Back to business..
On February 22nd 2003, Mike Tyson was scheduled to fight rugged ex- convict, Louisiana native, Clifford Etienne in Memphis Tennessee, at the site of Mikes damaging defeat to Lennox Lewis, The Pyramid. The fight was tentatively scheduled, cancelled, then rescheduled for various reasons, in which time Tyson was to acquire a large tribal tattoo on his face, this would become an issue, money would become an issue and when Etienne himself threatened to pull out his wife literally ordered him to fight, telling Clifford not to bother coming home without the purse ($900.000.) There were so many sub plots surrounding this event, Mike had tried desperately to get Buddy Mcgirt to work with him in preparation for Etienne, but Buddy was morally obliged to decline the offer due to his agreement to work with Clifford in this fight.. Freddie Roach was hired. Etienne was a game fighter, he had only tasted defeat once, at the hands of Fres Oquendo a couple years earlier, but solid wins over Lawrence Clay Bey and The Tysonesque Clifford Couser got him a ranking and an NABF title. In his last fight Etienne would climb off the floor twice to salvage a draw against former IBF champion Francois Botha, a man Mike demolished after a slow start five years earlier. Mike was coming back to the site of the catastrophic Lewis fight to try and exorcise a few demons, his weight was right, and he looked physically rejuvenated, but Mikes mind is an enigma, anything can happen.. Mike had interestingly called Roach from his hotel room in the middle of the night and requested that freddie wrap his hands, so that it would "remind him of how it felt," in Mike Tyson's world, expect anything.
On fight night Clifford looked relaxed, pretty unmoved, unlike your Bruce Seldons who's ring walk would resemble an execution walk.. Etienne was focused. Mike and Roach knew that if they gave Cliff a foothold in the fight he would gather momentum from it.. he could fight, but wasn't the best boxer going backwards. Mike had to jump on him.. Clifford would crowd Mike from the bell, trying to trade but also suffocate Tyson's work, in doing so, Etienne would push Tyson back into the corner where both fighters would fall, Etienne on top, for which he would get a warning.. What followed was completely out of the text book, Etienne missed Tyson with a left jab–right hand combination, Tyson then missed with a left hook, but rebounded with a strong right hand that sent Etienne down, Clifford was paralyzed removed his mouthpiece but look unable to even move, 49 seconds into round 1.
Mike praised Clifford on his willingness to fight, the pair exchanged compliments of which Mike would reveal, "Cliff told me to stop bullshitting, " a reference to Mike not fulfilling his potential as a fighter.. Mike wasn't the force he once was, but was still a handful fir most of the heavyweights in the top ten. Mike did later reveal that he had in fact broke his back, or at least injured it weeks before the fight, but wanted to fulfill the obligation to Etienne to earn the payday. Clifford Etienne would box on for three more years, losing to Olympian Calvin Brock and future world champion, Nikolay Valuev..
In 2005 Clifford Etienne would be sentenced to 105 years in prison following an armed hold up of a check cashing business where he would take $2000 and attempt to shoot three people, two of which
were police officers, the gun jammed and Etienne would hijack the car of one of the men, driving away with two young children still inside the car.. It's a terrible ending to a man who looked to have turned his life around through boxing, in jail. Etienne will never see freedom.