Mike Tyson's defense of his world heavyweight title against Britain's Frank Bruno is in jeopardy because the champion sustained a broken right hand during an early-morning street fight with former opponent Mitch Green.
Tyson claimed at a news conference that he punched the 31-year-old Green early Tuesday morning after Green ripped his shirt and shoved into him, "ranting and raving" that Tyson and promoter Don King owed him money."You both owe me. I want my money," Tyson recalled Green telling him.
"I pushed him off. He came back at me. He threw a punch at me," Tyson recalled. "I was nervous. I hadn't had a fight like a street fight in seven years. I was getting paranoid because he was close to me so I defended myself.
"I had no other choice but to defend myself. He hit me in the chest. I wasn't planning to punch him. I was fighting because I was scared."
Tyson said he punched Green above the eye but damaged his own right hand in the process, causing a hairline fracture to the third metacarpal.
The break "was not of a serious nature," said the boxer's manager, Bill Cayton.
Whether Tyson's Oct. 8 fight against Bruno in Wembley, England will have to be rescheduled will be left to Dr. David Chiu, a hand surgeon. Chiu ordered that a cast be put on "really just to make sure that there is no further injury of any kind," Cayton said.
After three weeks, when the cast that covers most of Tyson's forearm is removed, Chiu will decide whether "the fight can take place with no further risk of any kind to Mike," he said.
Tyson said the fight occurred around 4:30 a.m. outside a 24-hour clothing store, Dapper Dan's Boutique at 43 E. 125th St., where he had gone to pick up an $800 jacket.
But Green, who filed an assault complaint against Tyson, told police the fight occurred outside an after-hours club at 41 E. 125th St., where Tyson and two other men had been, according to a police spokesman, Sgt. John Clifford.
Green of Jamaica, Queens, said in interviews that Tyson punched him first after he told the unbeaten champion that he did not think he (Tyson) won their May 1986 fight. Tyson won the non-title bout on a decision.
Tyson brought two witnesses - San Antonio Spurs' basketball player Walter Berry and Berry's cousin, Tom Smalls - to the news conference to support his version of the facts.
Both Berry and Smalls described Green as the aggressor.
"Just leave me alone," Berry quoted Tyson as telling Green.
But Berry said Green ignored the plea, grabbed Tyson's shirt and ripped it. He said that later Green knocked the rear view mirror of Tyson's car to the ground.