by | Mar 21, 1995 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Yo, Mike Tyson. Hold up. Don’t sign anything. I got your first fight right here.

What do you mean “where?” I just said where. Right here.


Put ’em up, partner.

Stop looking at me like that.

I will be your first opponent. We will pull on the gloves and slide in the mouthpieces — different mouthpieces, of course — and the bell will ring and we’ll go mano a mano, Tyson and Albom, 12 rounds, 15 rounds, you pick the rounds. We can do rounds, squares, we can do triangles if you like.

Stop looking at me like that.

I’m your man. Your first fight.

Wanna see me growl?


Now, I admit, I haven’t given much of my life to boxing. Actually, I’ve only given it three, maybe four minutes in the last, oh, three, maybe four minutes.

But I’ve seen some of the guys who’ve been calling your prison cell recently, in anticipation of your release Saturday. They’ve been sniffing around. They want you first. Riddick Bowe? George Foreman? Tommy Morrison?

Hey. Mike. Some of these guys hit hard.

I do not.

I promise.

I’m your guy.

You can count on me.

Remember Buster Douglas? A big nobody? Didn’t have a chance? You went to Tokyo, believing all the hype, and he put you away in the 10th round.

I would never do that, Mike.

I can’t do that.

I’m a sure thing.

If you miss, I’ll swing and knock myself out.

That’s the kind of fighter I am.

Stop looking at me like that. This is not about money

You see, Mike, I believe you need a break. All these other promoters, the ones that will be waiting for you Saturday with their limos parked outside the prison door, they all want to milk you in the brightest spotlight possible. They want the biggest name opponent, the most expensive tickets, the glitziest crowd. They want pay-per-view around the planet, corporate sponsorships from your robe to your shoelaces.

They want to dip their shovels into your sudden gold mine and walk away with coins falling from their pockets.

Not me.

I want no money.

I kid you not.

I want no gate. You can keep the gate. I never had much use for a gate, once I got a garage door opener.

Wanna see me snarl?


This is not about money. This is about the perfect fight for your return to the ring — after three years away. You want to feel good, you want to break a sweat.

Mostly, you want to hear the thud of your punch, as your opponent crumbles to the floor.

I’ll send in a sub for that part.

The crumbling thing. Not my strong suit.

Stop looking at me like that.

I’m your guy. I promise. I can make it happen. I am in my mid-30s, which by today’s boxing standards is almost teenage. My height is somewhere in the middle, and my weight is somewhere in the middle, and my fighting ability is somewhere in the middle, as long as one side is Dom DeLuise and the other is Meryl Streep.

Let me arrange everything. My friends and I will pick you up Saturday. We’ll be right out front. We don’t have a limo. We do have a Ford Escort, and we’ll get it washed.

Do they have parking meters on that street?

We might need change.

Stop looking at me like that. Purse won’t be a heavyweight

Now, I know the others are promising big bucks, Mike. And I know it bothers you that Foreman, at 46, came up from a bag of potato chips and captured your heavyweight crown. I know it hurts that the only man to defeat you, Douglas, was, at last look, the size of a Winnebago.

I know it hurts to have a leech like Don King out here, doing talk shows and spending your money, while you are behind bars, paying legal fees.

(By the way, the purse for our fight? I think I can get — are you ready?
— $175. I’m not kidding. It was $150, but the newspaper kicked in $25. Hell of a deal, huh?)

Anyhow, those other guys, they may promise more. But they want something. Mark my words, Mike, they want something. Your fame, your wallet.

I want nothing.

Well . . .

All right. There is one thing. Not the pay-per-view receipts. Not the T-shirt profits. Not the rights to the cable contract, the new Nike deal, the new Rolls Royce, or the new movie scripts.

I want none of that. All I want is this.

I want to ask you two questions:

1) Did you learn anything in prison?

2) Will you vow to never commit a crime again?

If you can look me in the eye and answer yes, without a guilty feeling in the deepest part of your heart, then you don’t need a fist, you can knock me over with a feather.

If the answer is no, you lose.

And so does everyone who touches you.

Whatdya say, Mike?


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New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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