Like just about all of Mike Tyson's fistfights, the one early last week was quick. Gunfighter quick. One punch, they say, a right uppercut to former contender Mitch Green's left eye, which swelled and closed beside a nose suddenly in need of five stitches. The novelty was that the fight took place at 4:30 a.m. on a Harlem street—not exactly the hour at which one would expect to find the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world scuffling—even if it was, as he claims, in self-defense.
Now that he has reached a truce with his manager. Bill Cayton, Tyson's punch-for-pay schedule calls for him to meet British heavyweight Frank Bruno, the Waterford Jaw, on Oct. 8 in London. But Tyson's impromptu bout with Green may have blown his $5 million appointment. The champion's right hand was placed in a cast after X-rays revealed a hairline fracture of the third metacarpal bone. "He ran away like a sissy," said Green, who ran like a sissy while losing a 10-round decision to Tyson on May 20, 1986. "He was shaking his little finger—oh, he hurt his little finger—and he ran."
Should another set of X-rays this week show that the hand is healing well, the Bruno fight will take place as planned. "If Tyson just sits and does nothing while waiting for the hand to heal, we're in trouble," said Mickey Duff, the British promoter. "But if he goes to the gym while the hand heals, he'll have three weeks of sparring and we can still hold the fight October 8."
Should Tyson need more time—and one has to wonder just how much time and how many hands, he needs to finish off Bruno—Duff and HBO, which will do a live telecast, have reserved Wembley Stadium for Oct. 22. Said Kevin Rooney, Tyson's trainer: "Broken hand or no broken hand, we start training next week. We talked about the Greer fight. We even kidded about it. He told me Green started it and he threw a punch because there was nothing else to do. All I asked him was. Did he move his head after he threw the punch? The hand won't be a problem. Lots of fighters train with broken hands."
Tyson told a press conference that he was in Harlem just before dawn to pick up a custom-made $850 jacket at Dapper Dan's Boutique, a shop on 125th Street that accommodates its famous customers' odd hours. Soon after Tyson pulled up to Dapper Dan's in his Rolls-Royce, accompanied by Walter Berry of the San Antonio Spurs and Berry's cousin. Thomas Smalls. Green arrived to discuss a rematch with Tyson—possible right there on the sidewalk. "He was ranting and raving about Don King robbing him," said Tyson. "And because of that he thought I owed him money."
Bystanders say the conversation went something like this:
"King [promoter of the Green-Tyson fight] robbed me," said Green.
"Don King robs me, too," Tyson replied. "That doesn't make you special."
After this brief exchange, the discussion turned physical. A few minutes later Tyson was back behind the wheel of his Rolls, en route to Mt. Sinai Hospital. Before he could drive off. Green snapped off one of the car's side mirrors.
"I broke his Jeep," said Green afterward, which may have been the unkindest cut of all. After a visit to North General Hospital to have his nose repaired, Green went to the 25th precinct station house to file assault charges. Two days later the charges were dropped after Tyson said that Green, who hasn't fought since he lost to Tyson, might get his rematch in January. The champ would agree to the fight—"If he gets into shape and then beats a Top 10 contender to show he deserves a fight."
The criminal justice system might have other plans for Green: He is awaiting trial on charges that he robbed a gas station last October. Police say the 31-year-old fighter had tied up the attendant and was pumping gas for customers when they arrived. Most likely he hadn't driven away because his license has been suspended 54 times.
Tyson, though, seems open to a rematch, but on unusual financial terms: "He isn't going to get any money," said Tyson. "We'll fight this one for charity."
For charity? That should start another fight real quick.