It was the 29th January 2000 on a cold night in Manchester, England. My good friend SB and myself travelled across the country in a silver Mercedes estate he was able to use at the time to watch the fight. Nobody could believe that Tyson was finally going to fight in the UK. We booked our tickets as soon as they became available. We were like a pair of excited kids ! Everybody knew the fight would be over in a round or two, but it really didn’t matter. Francis famously had the soles of his boxing boots sponsored by the Daily Mirror Newspaper, so sure was everybody that he was going to get a real hammering. I still have my official program in pristine condition, I had it signed by Joe Calzaghe (Who fought on the undercard), nobody seemed to know who he was so when we asked him for his autograph, he accepted happily, something I’m quite proud of.
The hysteria Tyson’s arrival caused when he entered the country was likened to that when the Beatles were in their hay-day. Mike has always been very popular in the UK. After the fight everybody was desperately trying to catch a glimpse of Tyson as he left the arena, and hundreds stayed for hours after the fight outside the M.E.N. Arena, including us two excited kids ! We noticed that the motorcade used to transport Mike and his entourage was a fleet of Silver Mercedes’. Some quick thinking by SB amazingly got us tagged on to the end of this fleet of cars and we were allowed to follow them through the streets of Manchester with police waving us through every red light ! It was a military operation with traffic being stopped and roadblocks in place to allow for Mike Tyson and crew to have an easy passage to the Hotel. We incredibly made our way right to the doors of the hotel and tried to blend in, but we stuck out like a pair of excited kids wearing Mike Tyson t-shirts among a group of men in black suits, and were quickly turned away as we tried to follow Tyson and his entourage in the Hotel ! We did catch a final glimpse of Mike heading into the Hotel punching the air as he walked. It was extremely funny and exciting at the time. Anyway, enough of my rambling – here’s the full version of the fight, un-cut and enhanced on 29th Jan 2014.