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Tyson: I'll be better next time // Fallen champ gives no excuses for loss

NEW YORK - Flashing a thumbs-up sign to airport crowds, Mike Tyson returned home Monday with no excuses for his heavyweight title loss to James "Buster" Douglas. With fans calling after him, "You're still the champ, Mike," Tyson and promoter Don King arrived at JFK Airport.

"I had a pretty bad performance but I'm not going to make excuses," Tyson said. "I'm just going to go on and make better results."

Tyson said he wanted to get back in the ring soon and hoped for a rematch in the wake of a long-count dispute.

"I've lost before," he said, referring to fights during his amateur career. "It's no big deal. I've always come back from a loss.

I feel great. I have a slight swelling in my eye and as soon as it goes down, I'm ready to go back to training."

King, who lodged a protest that Douglas had benefited from a long count when he was knocked down by Tyson in the eighth round, had no comment as he and the fighter hustled through the airport into a waiting limousine.

Tyson said, "The referee said he made a bad mistake. Regardless of that, I'd be happy to get a rematch. I'll be better prepared next time."

Meanwhile, Douglas got a hero's welcome in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

When he headed for Tokyo to fight Tyson, he left in obscurity.

Hardly anyone noticed or cared. But he was met by a cheering crowd of more than 1,000 new fans upon his arrival Monday at Port Columbus International Airport.

"Evander Holyfield's the No. 1 contender, and he would be the next opponent," Douglas said.

John Johnson, Douglas' manager, said he and Mayor Dana Rinehart discussed having the fight at Ohio Stadium, home of the Ohio State football team.

Rinehart said the controversy surrounding a long count in the title fight is ridiculous.

"If they take this championship away from him," Rinehart said, "Rocky Marciano will flip over in his grave."

Dr. Elias Ghanem, a World Boxing Council vice president who supervised the fight, says Douglas should be declared the champion.

Ghanem also said Monday that the presidents of both the WBC and World Boxing Association were told between the eighth and ninth rounds that the referee had made a mistake in the count, but took no action.

Ghanem said he would resist any efforts by the WBC executive committee, of which he is a member, to try to give the title back to Tyson or declare it vacant when it meets in Mexico City on Feb. 20.

Another committee member and the WBC's international secretary, Duane Ford, went even further, saying he would resign if the WBC did not recognize Douglas as its champion.

Aside from the controversy over the long count, there were an assortment of theories on why Tyson lost. Some of his old associates think they know the answer.

"Don King has destroyed Mike financially, he's certainly hurt his image, and now he's effectively damaged his career," said Bill Cayton, who still has a contract to manage Tyson but is not allowed to speak to him.

"I hope he has enough strength of character to admit his mistakes, to leave King, to go back to Kevin Rooney, and get himself in shape," Cayton said.

Rooney trained Tyson from 1981 to 1988, when Tyson fired him for criticizing his lifestyle. Now, Tyson is trained by Aaron Snowell and Jay Bright.

"They're go-fers," Rooney said. "Mike needed somebody who could look into his eyes and find out if he still had the fire to fight.

"He knows my number. He knows how to reach me."

Cayton said he was surprised at how bad Tyson looked even before the fight.

"As soon as I saw him, I realized he was in very bad shape," Cayton said. "He always trained so you could see the definition of his stomach muscles. This time, there was no definition."

What really astounded Cayton was how Tyson's corner handled the puffy eye.

"There is a metal piece that you put in an ice bucket called an End Swell, and that's used to control swelling," Cayton said. "All trainers use them. When his eye began to swell up in the second round, they didn't use it. Finally, they used some kind of an ice-bag abortion that looked like a water bag, but only after the swelling was pronounced.

"Their inexperience certainly showed up in this fight."

HBO to televise replay of fight on Friday night

NEW YORK - Home Box Office announced that its two-hour program on the Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson fight, which will include a complete replay of the bout, will be shown Friday night.

Seth Abraham, HBO senior vice president, said all three major networks inquired about purchasing the Tyson-Douglas replay. "They were interested in airing the fight in prime time," he said.

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