LAS VEGAS -- In their first major decision as Mike Tyson's new co-managers, John Horne and Rory Holloway named little-known Philadelphia trainer Willie Rush to oversee the former heavyweight champion's comeback.
Rush, 56, was a journeyman heavyweight who helped develop Meldrick Taylor into a gold-medal winner in the 1984 Olympics. He rejoined Taylor last year for his unsuccessful title challenge against super-lightweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez.
"Mike worked with Rush in two or three of his amateur fights in the '80s, and he remembered it as a good experience," said Horne. "He's confident that Rush can help him get back to championship form."
Horne and Holloway, closely tied to promoter Don King, visited Tyson repeatedly during his three-year imprisonment in Indiana for raping a beauty pageant contestant. They have been with Tyson since he returned to his home in Southington, Ohio, and began working out at a personal gym in nearby Orwell.
"The first time Mike worked out on the speed bag, he didn't tell us," said Horne. "But the next time he called us and said, 'I want you to see this.' I was surprised by how sharp he looked."
But Holloway said that, despite the millions of dollars in the offing, there will be no attempt to rush Tyson into a fight.
"Everything is looking positive, and Mike is ahead of where he thought he'd be," said Holloway. "But we're not putting any date when he'll fight. It will be strictly up to Mike. We'll see where he is after two or three months of training and go from there.
"Mike is anxious to fight again, but he knows it will be a long process to get back to championship form. We don't want him coming back at 90 percent."
Horne also said no decision has been made about Tyson's first opponent, although Boston's Peter McNeeley has been mentioned.
King has alienated Caesars Palace executives by signing a reported deal with casino rival MGM Grand to promote six fights involving Tyson over the next 30 months.
Although King is promoting tonight's Caesars Palace card that features five championship bouts headed by the Oliver McCall-Larry Holmes World Boxing Council heavyweight match, he has been staying at the MGM. And, sources said, Caesars Palace reduced his request for 140 complimentary rooms to 60.
King has declined to discuss the deal he struck with MGM, but a Caesars Palace executive said he had initiated contact with hotel president Henry Gluck on March 10 concerning Tyson's boxing future.
"We put all the numbers together, but King never got back to us before signing with the MGM," the executive said. "I think the fact that he's facing trial [for insurance fraud] this year and could go to jail, King wanted the money up front, and MGM was willing to almost let him name his price."
The champ as underdog
Luis Santana is the WBC junior middleweight titleholder, but the sports books list him as a 12-1 underdog in his rematch with former champion Terry Norris, from whom he won the title last November in Mexico City. Norris was disqualified for knocking out Santana in the fifth round on what was ruled an illegal blow behind the head. Santana left the ring on a stretcher.
"It wasn't bad enough to cost me my title," said Norris. "It bounced off his shoulder and wasn't hard enough to knock him unconscious.
"I heard his corner yell at the referee, 'Illegal blow!' Then they told Santana to stay down. He tricked me to get the title. He had a smile on his face when he got on the stretcher."