Tyson's return could be in Thailand
Promoter claims he is in talks with his team
published : 20 May 2020 at 08:06
newspaper section: Sports
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson could make a comeback to the ring with a charity fight in Thailand, according to an Australian expat.
Promoter Dean Bourke, who has lived in Thailand for 14 years, said he had been in talks with Tyson's management team about his plan to bring 'Iron Mike' to the kingdom.
Tyson, 53, has begun training as reports claim he wants to make a return to raise money for charity.
The American last fought in 2005 with a loss to Ireland's Kevin McBride.
Former Muay Thai fighter Bourke said he had links to Tyson whom he first met 20 years ago.
Bourke said he met Tyson through his friend and compatriot, three-time world boxing champion Jeff Fenech, who later became Tyson's trainer.
"Jeff was a close friend of Mike and so I would tag along to the USA with him and was lucky enough to meet Mike," said Bourke, who is based in Bangkok and Pattaya.
"Jeff then in the latter part of Mike's career trained Mike and so this is how I got the contact."
Bourke said he had been in contact with Tyson's management team about a project called Fight For Family -- a Muay Thai reality TV show featuring Thai prisoners in which Tyson, a former inmate, was approached to be the host.
The project has received approval from the Corrections Department, Bourke said.
"I had been trying to promote some different boxing shows and had the idea to do a series of fights in the Thai jails that would help prisoners locked up for petty crimes and give them something to look forward to, plus help their families financially," he said.
"I came up with the idea of Fight For Family, a series where Thai prisoners fight foreigners [non-prisoners]."
Bourke said hopefully the winners get a reduced sentence and upon release have a chance of fighting for a Muay Thai world title. "We have got approval from the Corrections Department for this series and a shot at Netflix picking up the show but I wanted Mike Tyson as the host," he said.
"I contacted Mike's wife who asked me to liaise with his LA management company but it all got put on hold due to Covid-19."
When there were reports that Tyson could make a comeback to the ring, Bourke contacted the former champion's LA manager, Chris Smith, to discuss the possibility of hosting a Tyson fight in Thailand.
Bourke claimed Tyson's management team have shown their interest in the proposed fight in Thailand and said discussions were expected to continue once the coronavirus situation improves.
"I plan to submit our final proposal within the next few weeks," Bourke said.
"Thailand has a very good shot to get this fight at the end of this year."
He claimed Tyson was interested in the prison project and that it would be like killing two birds with one stone if he agrees to fight in Thailand.
A Tyson charity fight in Thailand "could assist the Thai economy with proceeds generated being donated back into the kingdom to those in need," Bourke said.
Bourke has eyed Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium as a potential venue. He said such an event could attract over one million pay-per-view viewers worldwide.
"Mike Tyson is a great guy and wants to make money for charity," Bourke said.
Tyson has posted videos showing he is training, and in one video, he declares: "I'm back".
His former rival Evander Holyfield, 57, reportedly plans to make a comeback for charity, and reports suggest that the two ex-heavyweight champions could meet in the ring for the third time.