Lennox Lewis’ proposed summer rematch with Mike Tyson has been put in doubt with the news that the latter’s warm-up bout with Clifford Etienne, scheduled to take place in Memphis on Saturday, has been called off.
The 36-year-old former world heavyweight champion was due to have his first fight since being comprehensively beaten by Lewis in the same city last June.
However, Tyson has had to pull out due to flu and stomach illness and no alternative date has been put forward for the clash with Etienne.
Tyson said in a statement: “I’m sorry to let down all my fans in Memphis and around the world, but I am not 100 per cent and I do not want to perform at less than that.
“I’ve been in bed with the flu the last five days and I’m hopeful the fight can be rescheduled soon.”
Reports had been circulating over the last couple of days that all was not well in the Tyson camp and fears heightened after he missed a scheduled flight from Las Vegas to Memphis on Sunday night.
Iron Mike’s close friend and fitness trainer Jeff Fenech had already flown home to Australia after stating his charge had missed several days’ work in the last week.
New trainer Freddie Roach also claimed Tyson was not ready for the fight and admitted he was resigned to missing out on his expected pay-day after leaving his other boxers to concentrate on getting Tyson back into shape.
“That’s part of the business and I knew that going in,” Roach told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“That’s why I never spend money before I have it.
“Fights fall out all the time and the trainers don’t get paid if the fighters don’t get paid, and fighters don’t get paid if they don’t fight. I have no problem about that because that’s one of the risks of this job, whether I was with Mike or any other fighter.”
Roach also expressed some reservations about playing a part in Tyson’s future in the ring.
He added: “I’m not sure what I’ll do. I like Mike and I want to help him, but we’d have to have some things cleared up.
“I can’t just throw my life aside for a couple of months at a time and then have this happen. That’s not fair to me and it’s sure not fair to my guys.
“It was better than I ever thought possible at first. But then it turned out to be more than I ever expected, no question.
“Mike has different personalities. His good side is great, but his bad side is bad. I don’t like that bad side, but you know what? I still like Mike and think he’s a good guy.
“I wouldn’t want to be him, but if I could help him while not throwing my other guys aside, I really would like to do that.
“I could never have guessed what this would be like when I took this job, but if I don’t work with Mike again, well, I can say that I like him and have nothing but good feelings about him.”