EX-CHAMP TYSON A HARD SELL FOR ENDORSEMENTS

By Published on .

Most Popular
Mike's back. Not number 45 but number 922335-Mike Tyson's Indiana Department of Corrections number.

Mr. Tyson, however, who was paroled Saturday after serving three years for rape, may be wearing a new number: No. 1 in boxing.

Although he's no longer the heavyweight champ, that's a technicality most boxing aficionados believe will be rectified in time.

As for 922335? It likely will represent the number of dollars Mr. Tyson earns per second in his first pro bout since incarceration, assuming his opponent doesn't stay on his feet longer than a minute.

Mr. Tyson could earn as much as $30 million for his next fight, entirely from a cut of the gate and pay-per-view TV receipts. No endorsement deals are included.

"I don't know of many convicted felons who make good spokespeople." said a marketing executive at a major sports-related marketer.

But most likely Madison Avenue isn't on Mr. Tyson's mind.

"Michael Jordan is probably the most successful athletic endorser ever and what does he make-$30 million, $40 million a year? Mike Tyson will make that with one fight," said a pay-per-view TV executive.

If advertisers do connect with Mr. Tyson, it won't at first be for endorsements but for sponsorship of pay-per-view bouts. Anheuser-Busch has a history of such sponsorships, but a deal would depend on who's handling Mr. Tyson.

The odds-on favorite is notorious boxing promoter Don King. But an association with Mr. King might dissuade A-B from associating with any Tyson fights, said an executive close to the brewery.

Mr. King is under federal indictment for insurance fraud and is scheduled for trial May 22. If convicted, he would lose his boxing promoter's license.

Even those with ringside seats to the current courtship of Mr. Tyson say they're unsure of his plans.

Mr. Tyson's new-found Muslim religion appears to be another factor, but it's unclear which Muslim group has direct influence over him and how that might influence his career decisions.

Meanwhile, big pay-per-view organizations such as Showtime Event TeleVision and HBO's TVKO unit hope to win the TV rights.

It's expected that even a warm-up bout-most likely by summer-would rival the pay-per-view record of 1.35 million orders generated by the George Foreman-Evander Holyfield 1991 fight.

While HBO is a contender, the pay TV channel will risk Mr. Tyson's ire April 29 when it airs "Tyson," a no-holds-barred portrait of the former champ based on Jose Torres' book "Fire & Fear."

Jeff Jensen contributed to this story.

In this article: