by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Back in August, Pride announced a partnership with former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. Dream Stage Entertainment Nobuyuki Sakakibara stated at the time, “We have formed an alliance with Mike Tyson and we are planning projects replete with MMA appeal. He’s not merely a guest, but a partner who will help us create an MMA revolution.”
As part of these plans, Tyson was supposed to fight for Pride on New Year’s Eve in an exhibition boxing match against a Pride fighter. Tyson is not allowed to enter Japan due to his criminal history, so the match was to take place in the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. DSE announced its intentions to air Tyson’s boxing match on pay-per-view live on the big screens of Japan’s Saitama Super Arena in Japan on New Year’s Eve.
Now, with less than two weeks to go until Pride Shockwave, DSE has yet to officially announce Mike Tyson’s role in the organization’s biggest show of the year, nor has Tyson been publicly mentioned by DSE in over a month.
Despite the notoriety he gained in the U.S., the former champ remained very popular, especially in Japan. After the cancellation of its television contract with Fuji TV, it was important for DSE to secure another contract with one of the remaining television networks. Utilizing Tyson’s name recognition and popularity, DSE courted the remaining television networks in hopes of securing a broadcast deal for Shockwave. The gamble did not pay off, as the major television networks in Japan have released their New Year’s Eve schedules and none of them have Pride’s Otoko Matsuri (Shockwave in the United States) listed.
DSE is notorious for not finalizing fight cards until just weeks before the events. While there still may be time for an announcement, it seems unlikely that Pride will utilize Tyson, especially given the fact that DSE has not even mentioned his name in recent weeks.
Is Pride’s silence a way of acknowledging that Tyson won’t be fighting at Shockwave? We’ll find out soon as New Year’s Eve draws near.