WASHINGTON Mike Tyson hunched in his chair and tapped his 9-year-old daughter's hand while she rested her head on Daddy's ample shoulder. Later, the heavyweight once called ''the baddest man on the planet'' cuddled his napping son.
''I feel like Mr. Mom,'' Tyson said, then stomped his foot and smiled at his own joke. Wearing a pinstriped suit, he could have been any family man, albeit one with a tattoo on his face.
Silent and expressionless for the first 15 minutes of Tuesday's news conference to announce his return to the ring, a scheduled June 11 bout at the MCI Center against journeyman Kevin McBride of Ireland, Tyson lit up and laughed when his foe's manager promised an upset.
And from that point forth, Tyson came close to being the Tyson everyone has come to expect: the curiosity that promoters hope can still sell tickets and pay-per-view buys even though he's 38 and lost two of his past three fights.
He talked about sinking into depression, called McBride ''real cute,'' labeled himself ''probably the worst husband in the world,'' and told a PR person running the show to ''chill out'' when she pointed out it was time for more posed photos.
Yes, The Mike Tyson Show is headed to the nation's capital.
''I just hope these people of Washington, D.C., are prepared to handle this,'' Tyson said. ''It's going to be a train wreck.''
It will be the former champion's first fight in nearly a year, and just his second in 28 months. In his most recent outing, at Louisville on July 30, he was stopped in the fourth round by Danny Williams after tearing cartilage in his left knee. Tyson had surgery the knee is fine, he said Tuesday and he's been training in Phoenix for three weeks.
He's been more than $30 million in debt, and when asked how much longer he thinks he'll keep fighting, Tyson answered: ''Long enough to take care of my children a long time.''
The 6-foot-6 McBride, who's 32-4-1 with 27 knockouts, was originally supposed to be Tyson's opponent for that July bout. Make no mistake, this fight is entirely about Tyson. McBride's name wasn't even uttered by master of ceremonies Rock Newman until nearly 20 minutes into Tuesday's event.
''It's a no-win situation for me,'' said Tyson, 50-5 with two no contests and 44 knockouts. ''If I knock him out in two seconds, he's a bum. If he gives me a shellacking, I'm a bum.''
For his part, McBride vowed at least three times: ''I'm going to shock the world.''
His manager, Rich Cappiello, was more specific.
''If people are thinking we're coming to lay down ... we are coming out to knock Mike Tyson out. He had his day. His day's gone. I think Mike Tyson gets knocked out within five rounds,'' Cappiello said.
That's when the first crease crossed Tyson's face as he laughed.
''We are going to stop Mike Tyson and hopefully end his career,'' Cappiello added.
Later, in a classic Freudian slip, Cappiello wrapped up his speech by proclaiming, ''We're going to go out there and knock Kevin uh, Mike Tyson out.''
That drew loud snickers from the crowd and Tyson's entourage. But Tyson didn't get drawn into a battle of words. And after the fighters stood toe-to-toe for photographers, Tyson shook McBride's hand, patted him on the back and winked.
''I don't get into the staredowns and the talking trash. I'm older, so I'm not really too much into that,'' he said later. ''I don't want to punch a guy in the face before the fight starts.''
This from the man who brawled with Lennox Lewis at a 2002 news conference announcing a bout. Who vowed to eat Lewis' children. Who bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear. Who was convicted of rape in 1992.
He sounded downright introspective Tuesday discussing how down he was after knee surgery.
''I was in that little square-box room, and I was on crutches, and it was a very depressing atmosphere. I just fell into a deep depression,'' Tyson said. ''Once those painkillers wore off, it was horrific. I didn't know what to do. I was just like a little spoiled brat. I was at my worst self.''
He paused, before adding: ''I'm just so happy that I'm happy again.''
And then he cackled, a high-pitched squeak that reverberated off the walls of the Lincoln Theater.
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