DOWN TO CHINATOWN Tyson Fight Is D.C.’s Madness The madness has arrived in D.C., and it’s not just because the NCAA Tournament is at MCI Center. The D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission caved into the profitable possibilities of playing host to a Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson championship bout and granted the lunatic Tyson a boxing license.

An adviser of Tyson’s said that a prize fight featuring Lewis and Tyson “is very likely to happen in Washington,” and officials were meeting to finalize the details for the event to be held in June 8 at MCI Center. To hold a sporting event of this magnitude would be incredible and unprecedented in our nation’s capital. Washington, which hasn’t seen a fight like this since Henry Clay went fist-to-fist with Andrew Jackson over the Second National Bank, is a very unlikely site to have a heavyweight title fight. However, expected revenues for this fight are a record-breaking $150 million, and where there is political power, there is always a need for money.

Over the past year, Washington has prepared itself well for the arrival of Tyson. Washington sports have been thrust into the national spotlight like never before. There was Michael Jordan, who came and saved the Wizards franchise from possible relocation. Jordan’s arrival suddenly made Washington the fashionable place to watch, play and coach sports. Last year, the league’s best hockey player, Jaromir Jagr, dissed Mario Lemieux and Pittsburgh and put on a Capitals jersey. Yet another marquee name, former Florida football coach Steve Spurrier, decided to try out coaching in Washington, too – well, actually aryland.

Now, the city of Washington believes it has the star power to deliver the most anticipated fight since Tyson-Holyfield. It has ichael, Jaromir, Steve and now thinks it can handle Tyson’s dramatics along with his 40-person entourage.

All the best to Washington if it pulls off this fight. If the fight organizers are really mad, they can come up with a number of clever marketing schemes. By June, the Hoyas, Wizards and Capitals will be long gone from MCI Center, and the biggest tourist season will be under way in Washington. Why not offer special deals to the waves of families and tourists who will come to Washington. not for the Smithsonian but for Tyson-Lewis. Organizers can offer discounted family-pack tickets to the big fight complete with a pre-fight McDonald’s Happy Meal and a complimentary disposable camera. Even better, why not give congressmen whole sections of seats so that constituents can call up for free tickets, just like the presidential inauguration.

Instead of an undercard featuring flyweight and middleweight no-names, why not set one similar to Fox’s celebrity boxing show that debuted on Wednesday. Instead of Vanilla Ice against Willis from Diff’rent Strokes, you could have Tom Daschle against Trent Lott. Instead of Tonya Harding and Paula Jones, you could have the fight of the century in Monica Lewinsky and Hillary Clinton. Why not have Bush and Gore settle their differences in a boxing ring? The list of possible dream matchups could go on forever.

Whenever a big title fight comes around, a circus atmosphere will inevitably accompany it. And just because this is Washington does not mean that this environment should be tossed away. If the fight organizers want to do a good job with this, they should let all the people associated with this business do their usual thing. Let Don King and his hairpiece march around wherever they want. Get Judge Mills Lane to referee the fight. Get Michael Buffer to do the pre-fight introductions and his famous “Let’s get ready to rumble.” Let Ted Koppel interview Mike Tyson on “Nightline”. Let Lennox Lewis guest host NBC’s “Meet the Press”. Just don’t try to keep this a low-key, limited event.

A fight like Tyson-Lewis is something that has been talked about for years now. While the fight itself could last anywhere from 30 seconds to 12 rounds, the organizers should make sure the buzz is there. The madness is already in Washington; why not take advantage of it?

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