Having known former Edmonton Oilers’ tough guy Georges Laraque going on 25 years, suffice to say the buzz I came across while surfing the internet on Monday grabbed my attention. Stuff like “Laraque wants to fight Mike Tyson” and “Laraque calls out Tyson.” I said, pardon?
Given that Iron Mike, who put together a 50-6 boxing record and is the former heavyweight champion of the world, is getting ready for a comeback fight against Roy Jones Jr. November 28 in a battle of has-beens, two thoughts crossed my mind.
First, maybe Georges had completely lost his marbles because even at 54 years old, Tyson is still a wrecking machine and would take him apart in short order in any kind of real fight inside the squared circle – as many people were quick to point out on social media. At 43, Laraque is several years removed from being the on-ice heavyweight champ of the NHL. Emphasis on the on-ice part, which isn’t the same as ropes and canvas. That’s Tyson’s domain.
That, or we’re talking about an exhibition match where there isn’t a punch thrown with any real ill will – much like the three-round pillow fight Dave Semenko and Muhammed Ali staged here for charity back in June of 1983. I thought finding out the answer was worth a phone to big Georges today, and it turns out it’s the latter. Georges remains in possession of his faculties.
WHAT HE SAID
“It’s not what people are thinking,” Laraque said from Montreal. “I’m not that dumb, but a lot of people who don’t know boxing, that’s what they’re thinking about. Online, you see people calling me crazy, saying I’m nuts, that what am I thinking that I could beat him? They don’t understand.
“I’m full of energy, but my head is all there. I know what’s a good and a bad situation. I’m not in a state of mind where I’m going to do something irrational that would hurt myself, you know? Imagine if I said, ‘Are you kidding me? I’m going to knock him out.’ I mean, come on.”
Laraque says his agent, David Ettedgui, has been in preliminary talks with Tyson’s people about the possibility of staging a three-round exhibition match for charity as part of a fight card at the Centre Bell in Montreal. We’re talking Semenko-Ali here, not a real bout where Laraque and Tyson slug it out for 10 rounds. Think headgear and over-sized gloves.
It’s an exhibition that’s likely a year away — if it comes off at all. That will depend, among other things, on negotiations with Tyson about an appearance fee, getting a fight card sanctioned and the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. This isn’t something, contrary to what’s out there, that is “75 per cent done.” It’s an idea about an exhibition to raise money for charity. Nothing more.
“My agent is going to be in contact with them after the (Jones) fight,” Laraque said. “One step at a time. It’s not going to happen fast. Let’s see how the first one goes first before you start planning all that stuff. Regardless of what happens in this fight, we’re still going to wait for after.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
“It’s just like what Ali did with Semenko,” Laraque said. “Nobody gets hurt. It’s for fun . . . it’s not as intense as some people made it sound. Oh, they’re going to mix it up. To do that, I would have to get my license. It’s safer. It’s not the same thing. I don’t have any background in boxing like he does. It would be stupid to do so.”
Having had Georges St. Pierre toss him around for fun a few years ago in the gym, Laraque has no delusions that he’d stand a chance against Tyson, even a 54-year-old Tyson, in a boxing ring – just like Tyson would have no chance against Laraque out on the ice in equipment and skates. An exhibition bout for charity is a different matter. Thank goodness for that.