Mike Tyson Cancels Tour: Boxer Displayed Candor and Wit in 'Undisputed Truth'


Update: As of February 20, this tour has not been cancelled, though a few markets have been removed from the tour route.

Mike Tyson released a statement: "Due to circumstances beyond my control, certain cities on my Undisputed Truth tour have been cancelled.  I am so appreciative of my fans and all of my supporters.  I sincerely apologize to anyone that was inconvenienced by these cancellations.  I was looking forward to doing a great show for you and hope at a later date that I am still able to do so."

Thank God nobody lost an ear.

Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson met again in a smaller arena on February 17 filled with shelves of fresh produce: the grocery store. The two schmoozed it up for photos, hugging and loving each other during Holyfield's barbecue-promoting appearance.

Tyson was in town starring in his new play, Undisputed Truth, directed by Spike Lee which played at the Cadillac Theater Friday and Saturday night.

His arrival at the Cadillac Palace in Chicago was heralded by a loop of the line from Jay-Z's "Ni**as In Paris,": "Psycho, I'm liable to go Michael/Take your pick/ Jackson, Tyson, Jordan (Game 6)." The youngest ever heavyweight champion of the world entered the stage armed with nothing but his version of the "truth."

After Jay-Z’s reverberations died out, Tyson appeared on stage, sitting, waiting for the swoony, jazz number in the background to swell before the spotlight hit him squarely on the nose and he lifted his head in what appeared to be a velvet black suit, pocket square and signature face tattoo. It was just him and a large screen put in the middle of the stage to show short video clips and stills from his heyday as well as his present. Unlike Beyoncé’s “documentary,” Life Is But A Dream, where critics complained that there wasn’t too much new information or intimacy, Tyson laid it all out on the table. He touched on the bumpy, Robin Givens marriage, to a very tough upbringing, his sex offender registration, death, and eventually his rebirth.

Now over four years into his sobriety, Tyson recalled an altercation with a very handsome, then-nobody he suspected of dating his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Givens: Brad Pitt. Due to Pitt’s delicate good looks, “I didn’t know whether to fight him or f*ck him,” Tyson exclaims and demonstrates through a series of punches thrown in the air, followed by pelvic-pumps that drove the crowd into hysterics.

Watching Tyson exude wit and charm was the equivalent of watching famed people-munching Jeffrey Dahmer eat a Happy Meal. It seems Tyson is either a naturally funny guy or a well-coached guy by director Spike Lee. Not only did we catch a glimpse of humor from the ear-biter, there were hints of gravity and seriousness that balanced this weird concoction out.

Tyson took time to proclaim his innocence from a felony rape conviction in the early 90s, which was one gigantic rift in an otherwise filthily, fun ode to the truth. The declaration and implication of a possible exoneration had the court been able to bring his accuser, Desiree Washington's alleged previous cases of rape accusation into play was reaching, even for Tyson. Tyson’s lone attempt to make excuses for actions that cannot be undone was a low for the evening.

Despite this glaring over-emission, the stageplay ebbed and flowed, much like real life. There were funny moments, from the shtick on Pitt to Tyson explaining away his street-fight with Jheri-curl wearing, former professional boxer, Mitch “Blood” Green, playing the taunting clips of Green deeming Mike a “homo” while flexing his bicep on command. 

There were serious moments too, from Tyson explaining how he doesn’t really know who his father is and how having 30 arrests on under his belt before he became a teen eventually led him to his boxing mentor and savior, Cus D'Amato. At times, the somber moments were thwarted by missed or jumbled lines, like when giving the gravest introspection of all on losing his daughter in 2009.

The most daunting of all tasks for Tyson was explaining who he is today. He admitted to using cocaine throughout most of adulthood and that his more than 100 pound weight-drop was due to maintaining a Vegan diet. We see a clip of him caring for his flock of dozens of birds and I suppose we’re supposed to juxtapose how delicately he must care for the birds versus his reputation for cruel and unusual behavior but it's more than a little difficult to buy into that assertion. Gentle Mike Tyson? Even as I watched Tyson recount his history with a slight charm, there were always underlying malignancies that seemed to reside just beneath the surface.

At one point towards the end of the evening, Tyson shows a picture of the famed bout with Holyfield which is juxtaposed with a more recent photo of the 100 pounds heavier Tyson smiling, in a man embrace, next to Holyfield. Interestingly enough, it’s not the clip of Tyson removing a piece out of Holyfield’s ear, it’s the one with Tyson receiving an alleged intentional head-butt. It kind of makes you wonder if he is attempting to subtly justify the unjustifiable.

This conundrum Tyson faces with his children is eerily similar to the one Tyson now faces with the public: Will they accept the "new Tyson," the man he so desperately claims t be and needs to be today, or will he always fall flat on his face overtaken by the shady past that follows wherever he goes?

Nobody will accuse Tyson of being the best orator of our time. His attempt to pronounce words such as "colostomy bag" bring uninvited chuckles from the audience but he holds his own via charisma and accessibility on stage.

While he doesn’t go so far as to ask for forgiveness of the past, he hopes to explain the shenanigans and disgrace away with a grand amount of candor, retrospection and humor. Pop culture has a short memory when it comes to some things but it'll be a while before "Old Tyson" is washed away by the new one.