NEW YORK – Tyson, a convicted rapist infamous for his sometimes uncontrollable temper, said at a Tunica, Miss., news conference that he will be fighting Clifford Etienne, of Baton Rouge, La., on Feb. 22. All this takes place several months after Lennox Lewis defeated Tyson on June 8.
After saying he was glad to be back in the ring again he added a bizarre note:
"I'm just tired of being stupid," he said.
But strangeness became surreal when former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding declared that she would lace up the boxing gloves to fight as Tyson's undercard, although her opponent hasn't yet been decided. She said her "competitive nature" would help her win the bantamweight fight.
"This is a very serious event," she said. "I will be training seriously. I am a sports person and it's about time I can see what I can do."
Tyson first gained notoriety for raping a Miss Black America contestant in 1991 and biting off part of Evander Holyfield's ear during a 1997 fight. For the last year, the former Don King protégé has had his license to box denied in various states and countries, forcing him to shuttle from place to place in search of a place to box.
"Controversy is part of life today," Harding said of her new pugilistic colleague. "He's a great fighter."
The pint-sized tough girl knows all about a life of controversy. Harding became known as the villainess of figure skating in 1994, when her ex-husband and a friend clubbed rival skater Nancy Kerrigan in the knee during the Olympic trials in Detroit.
In a plea bargain, Harding confessed to hindering the investigation but served no time. The U.S. Figure Skating Association, however, stripped her of her titles and banned her from the organization.
Harding's later brushes with celebrity with fame were just as seamy: a pornographic home video of her wedding night went into circulation; she was arrested for drunken driving; and, earlier this year, she pummeled Clinton accuser Paula Jones on Celebrity Boxing.
"I enjoyed doing celebrity boxing, had my skating and I'm a well-rounded woman who has power," Harding told Fox News in an interview after Tuesday’s announcement.
Harding later added that the celebrity-boxing experience was only a lead-in to her new professional athletic career.
"Celebrity Boxing was not a real boxing match — I had one hour of training," she said. "But I went out there to win and I did. I'm so used to being in that kind of training regiment."