Mike Tyson returns to boxing, but not as he was in the 80's and 90's. During that time, the champ was a fierce warrior, beloved by most, loathed by some yet known by all. Hip-Hop in particular took a special affinity for the Brooklyn-bred pugilist and he was decidedly of the culture unlike other champs of the period. Everybody from LL Cool J to Will Smith to Kool G Rap name dropped Mike Tyson and he continues to ring bells in the annals of history. But, Tyson is still creating history these days. Recently he wrapped a one-man play that toured the nation and he's started his own promotions company, Iron Mike Productions.
Iron Mike Productions (or IMP) is a new company that will host its first fight this Friday on ESPN's Friday Night Fights and it has the champ expanding his brand deep into the business side of boxing. Azim Spicer, Director of Operations for Iron Mike Productions, talked to AllHipHop about the inner workings of the Las Vegas-based company, Iron Mike's real role and how they will be different from the other companies the champ has dealt with in the past.
AllHipHop.com: Tell me about Iron Mike Productions and how its different from other companies?
Azim Spicer: Iron Mike Productions was created when Craig "Boogie" Jones introduced me to Steve Marcano and Gary Jonas of Acquinity Sports. Acquinity had been operating for over 2 years and had already developed a Super Featherweight Champion in Argenis Mendez. So me and Boogie flew out to Miami, where Acquinity is located, to check everything out. We were very impressed by the fighters on the roster and the organization so we were able to give Mike a good report. From there we went back to Miami to introduce everyone to Mike and signed the deal. Only time will tell how different we may be from other boxing promotion companies, but our starting principles are total transparency business with our fighters and to create competitive fights.
How will he be involved?
Mike Tyson is the President and a 50/50 partner of Iron Mike Productions. He is hands on every decision made day by day. Everything from what fighters we sign, how we should fight them, to the hiring of our office staff.
What's it like working with him?
I enjoy working with him. I feel honored to be in this position. We got an opportunity to help a lot of young boxers learn about the business and protect their money. But you got to have "thick skin" working with Mike. He doesn't hold back if things aren't running as they should. Its not like he yells or anything like that, but you can feel his intensity and know you better step it up. He takes this business very serious and expects his team to as well. He wants to win!
Do you think "Iron" Mike will be able to bring people back to boxing, because a lot of fans have left since he was in the ring.
Boxing is hurting a bit but its not all that bad. The biggest UFC or MMA fight still hasn't reached the level of a Boxing Championship PPV fight. But boxing fans need to be entertained. It can't be protected prospects fighting against bums under the same promotion company. People are on to that. So IMP (Iron Mike Productions) is dedicated to putting on competitive fights and challenging our fighters while giving the fans what they deserve. We believe that we got some future PPV stars on our roster and we can't wait to share them with the fans. Plus we got some exciting entertainment ideas to incorporate with the fights. I think the fans will come out to see what Iron Mike has up his sleeves.
Mike is an iconic figure. What are you thoughts on how he'll leverage this with his core base in Hip-Hop that stayed fans in good and bad time.
We plan on reaching out to the hip-hop community. Mike obviously is a hip-hop icon so we feel confident that the base will continue to support his efforts.
Does he expect to pull any rappers to help push his fights.
Check out some of Mike Tyson's greatest knockouts. The story continues below.
Tell me about this upcoming fight and some of the expectations.
This is a big fight for us as a company. ESPN actually extended their Friday Night Fights schedule an extra week to accommodate us. Argenis Mendez is defending his IBF super featherweight title, while Claudio Marrero is fighting for the Vacant WBA Featherweight title. We expect them both to win. Plus undefeated Bantamweight, Alexei Collado and our undefeated Super Featherweight, Albert Bell, is also on the card. We are very excited for them as well.
Mike recently tweeted he'll "work with anybody." What's on deck for the company.
Right now we are looking for straight killers in the ring to add to our already talented roster. Mike is personally looking for the next great heavyweight. So if you out there get at us.
Tune in on August 23rd on ESPN Friday Night Fights for Iron Mike Productions first fight.