Mike Tyson, whose devastating punching and savage intensity have terrorized the heavyweight division, won't be content to merely beat Michael Spinks when they meet Monday night in boxing's richest fight ever.
Tyson would like to inflict some physical damage while picking up his $22 million payday."My objective is to knock him out, to win in spectacular fashion," the undisputed heavweight champion said. "Even if I'm ahead in the last round I'll try to knock him out. That's just my style."
Tyson weighed in at 2181/4 pounds Saturday and Spinks weighed 2121/4.
"I'm ready to roll," Tyson said in an interview on ABC, which televised the weigh-in. "I'm in great shape mentally."
Tyson's style will be put to perhaps his stiffest test yet against the unorthodox tactics of Spinks, the 31-year-old former light heavyweight champion who defeated Larry Holmes to win part of the heavyweight title and later gave it up for a lucrative fight against Gerry Cooney.
Spinks has never been knocked down, much less out, in a professional career that has spanned 11 years. He seldom looks spectacular, but has won all 31 of his fights, 21 by knockout, and two world titles.
"We're not here to say we went 12 rounds with Mike Tyson," vows Butch Lewis, Spinks' longtime manager and confidant. "We're here to kick some rear."
Tyson, meanwhile, faces the added burden of also blocking out the well-publicized martial and managerial problems that have turned the life of the youngest heavyweight champion ever into something resembling a soap opera.
The weeks before the fight were filled with turmoil, with charges and countercharges flying between Tyson, manager Bill Cayton, promoter Don King and wife Robin Givens.
"I'm not involved with what's scandalous or what's happening in my personal life," insists Tyson, 34-0 with 30 knockouts. "The closer it gets to fight time, the happier I am. I'm just ready to fight."
Spinks is also a completely different fighter, not only in the ring but in how he approaches the fight. A reluctant warrior at best, he fights for the competition, seemingly without the inner fire that burns within the heavyweight champion.
"I don't try to hurt anyone, I just want to win," said Spinks, who will earn $13.5 million. "I know what I'm in there to do."
The 21-year-old Tyson is a 4-1 favorite in the scheduled 12-round bout, which has turned into a promoters dream that may end up grossing a record $70 million, some $10 million more than last year's middleweight title fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Some 22,000 people will pay a record gate of nearly $13 million to watch the bout beginning about 9:10 p.m. MDT from the Atlantic City Convention Center. More than 1 million others will pay an average of $35 to watch it on closed-circuit or pay-per-view.
Many think Tyson will be the monster in this fight, despite the turmoil inside his camp caused by disputes with Cayton and reports his marriage of four months to Givens is on the ropes.
Givens has been at Tyson's side throughout the week, but Cayton has kept his distance amid reports that Tyson wants to break the three-year contract that gives the 70-year-old manager 33 percent of his earnings.
"The relationship (ith Cayton) could be saved, but we'll talk about it later," said Tyson, adding: "People I'm associated with should treat me special, don't treat me like a commodity."
Asked if Cayton should get a third of his purse, Tyson replied:
"He shouldn't get anything."
It is in the ring, however, where Tyson finds solace and his workouts in the week before the fight seemed to reflect that. He looked sharp in sparring sessions that left one sparring partner wearing a flak jacket and put another one out because of sore ribs.
"There's no one on this planet who can come near me," he vows.
Kevin Rooney, Tyson's trainer, said his fighter has no problems being able to separate his personal problems from his training for the fight.
"In the last week he's really started to focus on Spinks," said Rooney. "Come fight night, Spinks will have to pay for all the frustration Mike has.'
Tyson's past seems to reflect that. When Cus D'Amato, his mentor and the father Tyson never had, died in November 1985, Tyson knocked out Eddie Richardson in the first round a week later.
"I'm a professional," he said. "Whatever happens - your mother dies, someone you love dies - the show must go on."
Spinks, for the most part, isn't counting on Tyson being distracted in the ring.