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Tyson And Tonya Headline Fight Card

An uncharacteristically playful Mike Tyson, proclaiming at a press conference that he's a changed man, will return to the ring early next year as the headliner on a fight card that will include the professional boxing debut of former Olympic skater Tonya Harding.

Tyson plans to keep all of his fighting in the ring from now on.

"I don't have to be a cold-blooded ... mean individual on the streets just to be a great fighter," Tyson said Tuesday.

That observation was but one example of Tyson's new attitude displayed at a news conference announcing his Feb. 22 fight with Clifford Etienne in Memphis, Tenn.

"I feel good. I'm just very happy. I'm tired of being stupid," Tyson said.

The fight will be at The Pyramid, where Tyson suffered a beating June 8 from heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

Smiling and laughing after playfully patting Etienne on the shoulder, Tyson said he has matured since the Lewis fight.

"Things basically have come together as far as my personal life," he said.

Tyson was unclear about what caused Tyson's emotional transition.

"I just feel so much good about my transformation and just forming to be a decent human being," he said.

The undercard will have eight fights, including Harding's bout. An opponent has not yet been lined up for Harding, who has appeared on Fox TV's "Celebrity Boxing."

"It is my goal to be the future undisputed bantam weight champion," Harding said. "My proven athletic ability, as you all know, and competitive nature will help this dream become reality."

Tyson, who spent three years in prison for raping a beauty queen, has a long history of violence outside the ring as well as in it.

He fought Lewis in Memphis because he was turned away elsewhere, including Nevada, due to his reputation for rowdiness.

That rowdiness included a fight between the Tyson and Lewis camps at a news conference in New York held to announce their upcoming fight, then expected to take place in Las Vegas.

But everything was smiles at the Grand Casino in Tunica County, about 30 miles south of Memphis.

Tunica has the largest complex of casinos between Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Wearing a black suit with a modest brown and black striped tie and matching pocket scarf, Tyson said his rough past is behind him and that he just wants to fight and make a living.

He said he was glad to return to Memphis because he was well received by the city before, particular in its poorer neighborhoods.

"That's where I come from ... I went downtown to the hood and everybody's got a gold tooth in their mouth and look like me," he said, drawing a hearty laugh from his audience.

Tyson, 35, was the youngest heavyweight champion ever at the age of 20. He has relied throughout his career on intimidation and his strength as a slugger.

Despite his new gentler view of life, Tyson said he has no plans for changing his fighting style.

The fight with Etienne will be the beginning of Tyson's attempt at a comeback and a rematch with Lewis.

Etienne (24-1-1) was knocked down twice but managed a draw July 27 in his last fight against Francois Botha.

"Mike Tyson can still beat 99 percent of the heavyweights out there," Etienne said. "I just feel like I'm in that 1 percent that he can't beat and I'm going to show it."

The 10-round fight, to be televised on Showtime, is being promoted by the Grand Casino and Prize Fight, a co-promoter of the Lewis fight.

The Lewis-Tyson fight drew 15,327 to The Pyramid and is generally considered the biggest sporting event in Memphis history.

The fight was one of boxing's most lucrative ever, with ringside ticket prices of $2,400 and pay-per-view sales trailing only the second fight between Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

Tickets for the Tyson-Etienne fight will start at $25. Top prices have not been announced.

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