LAS VEGAS -- At what was supposed to be a closed workout, Mike Tyson opened the doors not only to one of his final sparring sessions before Friday night's rematch with Donovan "Razor" Ruddock, but to a man who seemed very much at odds with published reports that have described him as both out of control and lacking his old fire.
He looked and sounded very much like the old Mike Tyson, this man who won't be 25 until Sunday. In the ring, working three rounds with Nate Tubbs, the 26-year-old younger brother of former WBA heavyweight champion and 1988 Tyson two-round KO victim Tony Tubbs, he jabbed, moved his head, threw combinations, went to the body -- all the things he supposedly was not doing anymore. A fit, trim 217 pounds or so, he stunned Tubbs with a right uppercut in the second round, bloodied his nose in the third.
Then, after changing into shorts, T-shirt and baseball cap, he leaned back and gave reporters a relaxed 35-minute interview Monday night.
No, he never threw any toasters or anything at Don King. No, Panama Lewis "is not my trainer and he's not coming in." Yes, he said, playfully acknowledging the reports, "I'm a pervert, sex maniac and psychopath."
Then, after a raunchy discussion of the sexual habits of other fighters, he laughed and said, "Remember, you guys used to say I was gay."
But the sound and the fury were still there when he talked about Ruddock.
"He's an odd guy, I can't figure him out," said Tyson. "He's a bourgeoisie type of nigger. He says he's from the jungles of Jamaica and he says he's a gladiator, but he acts too proper."
Tyson acknowledged that he did not like fighters who showed up for news conferences in suits and ties. Jack Dempsey and Joe Louis wore suits and ties, he was reminded.
"It was a different time," said Tyson. "That was when elegance was in. Elegance is not in. This is the '90s. Casual is in."
He was reminded that his style, calling Ruddock a "transvestite" and telling his rival, "I'm going to make you my girlfriend," was not exactly in good taste.
"I'm a bad-taste guy," he said with a shrug. "I'm a real crass guy."
He said if Ruddock "was any kind of real person, he would have come back with, 'Look at the way you talk.' "
But yesterday, at the ritual final news conference, with a straight face he told Ruddock, "I'm sorry I called you bad names."
He said this time there would be no doubt when he knocked out Ruddock. Last time, referee Richard Steele halted the fight prematurely in the opinions of most. Tyson may have dominated that fight, but he said that while he wasn't "bored," he was "in so much control, I didn't elevate."
Tyson said it didn't bother him that trainers like Eddie Futch and Teddy Atlas suggested he was slipping.
"I know they know they don't know anything," he said. "They just want people to hear them."
He said he wanted his 13-month-old son, D'Amato, to have the fun he never did growing up.
"I was 12 years old, I was so serious," he said. "I'd go to the gym and I don't want him to be like me. I never had fun. When I was young, I never could go out and play with the kids."
"I do that now."
But he also said he has matured as a person and as a fighter.
"When I was first champion, back then I was just a boy, a little boy," he said. "I was still used to streets; I'd go out and hang out. It was my mentality."