And his close call with one of the toughest boxers in history was all because ‘Iron Mike’ lost his temper over a jewellery bill and the affections of a woman.
Warren sat down with Andy Coulson this week as a guest on the Crisis What Crisis? podcast show, to discuss his storied career in the world of boxing and muse over anecdotes from yesteryear.
And it was on the subject of the notorious Tyson that Warren gave a glimpse inside the ferocious temper of the former heavyweight world champion who was one of the most fearsome to ever step into a ring.
Frank Warren has opened up on the bizarre world of Mike Tyson, after he oversaw the heavyweight star’s British fights with Julius Francis (seen left) and Lou Savarese
After agreeing to produce Tyson’s blockbuster fights in the UK, Warren admits he should not have got involved with the notorious fighter, who set himself on course for disaster following a trip to a jewellery store.
This was a time in Tyson’s life when things were unravelling at a frantic pace, following shortly after he served a prison sentence and infamously biting Evander Holyfield’s ear.
‘It’s my fault what happened, in as much as I shouldn’t have got involved in the Mike Tyson business,’ Warren began.
A fresh-faced Warren took on the challenge but soon realised how unhinged Tyson could be
A hotel room fight left Warren with burst blood vessels after a Tyson ‘cheap shot’
‘The first time he came over [to England] no problems, he was great. And then he went into a jewelers I came out with an invoice for about two million. He never paid the bill and quite rightly the jewelers wanted to get paid.
‘They kept ringing me and I kept ringing the States and they’re telling me don’t worry we’ll sort it, let’s do another fight and we’ll pay it out of that, so I’m passing that information back on.
‘But when he came back the second time he was just awful, beyond awful. He was petulant, he was aggressive… a totally different scenario. The bill hadn’t been paid still and he’d gone into the jewellers.’
‘The reason he’d gone into the jewellers was a girl that he’d met and he was basically showing off to her. He’s gone back in to look for her and to cut a long story short he was p***** about it.’
Being the man responsible for Tyson’s stay in the UK, Warren took it upon himself to go and address the situation, but maintains he had not been given a full picture as to why the heavyweight was furious.
‘I got a call and someone said “Mike’s not happy” so I go up to the hotel and it’s all meetings. I stand there talking and the next thing he’s took a swing at me, well he actually caught me.
Warren and Tyson pictured outside Buckingham Palace in London, during the boxers’ first stint in England which went successfully before the ‘pandemonium’ which was to follow
‘So there was a big commotion in the room, there were a lot of people in there. I didn’t expect it to be honest I wasn’t prepared for it, it was a cheap shot.
‘I got up and it was all pandemonium, it was crazy. He was a lunatic but it all ended. I was absolutely fuming. The lawyer from Showtime wanted to call the police but I said no no.
‘He owed Showtime, Mike Tyson, around 20 million dollars allegedly. All the newspapers had said my jaw was broken, ribs were broken, but that was bulls***, I had a burst blood vessel in my eye that was it.
Frank and Fearless: My Life in Boxing is set to be released on November 11, and is available for pre-order from Amazon.
‘Anyway he had his fight, showtime got some of their money back and I made sure he paid for what he did, where it hurt him [financially]. And he went berserk after fight, the police run him out of town and straight to Gatwick airport.
‘He was a terrible bully, but a bully who got beat by bullies. Like Holyfield, he beat him because he [Tyson] couldn’t intimidate him.
‘I was annoyed that the person who called me didn’t mark my card, because I would have gone up there anyway. It wouldn’t have stopped me, but I wanted to know what I was going in to.’
In total Warren oversaw both of Tyson’s appearances in the UK in early 2000, when the American star did battle with Julius Francis in Manchester before returning five months later to meet Lou Savarese in Glasgow.
THE NIGHT WARREN WAS SHOT AT POINT-BLANK RANGE
Leaving no stone unturned, Warren recounted a terrifying ordeal of November 1989, when he was shout outside the Broadway theatre after arriving for the boxing…
‘I got outside the car and heard a bang. I thought it was a motorbike back-firing and then I heard a click.
I looked up and there’s someone staring at me with a mask on and I thought to myself, I thought it was a joke to start with.
I could see that he was shaking and I heard a click again and nothing happened. He was probably about eight foot away from me, just too far to close a gap or anything.
And so the next thing, bang!, I actually felt a pain in my chest, my ribs, but it had actually gone through my chest.
It was only the angle I was at that it didn’t go through my heart, but it went through my lungs and come out.
Then he ran. I didn’t see him run but I heard the kerfuffle. One of the partners, a solicitor John Buttress I can always remember his words, he went “what the f*** are you doing!?”
He jumped on him and wrestled him to the floor. Very brave.
And that was it. I was losing my breath and gurgling in my throat of the blood from my lungs.
As luck had it the ambulances were on strike, so I was huddled into the back of an old paddy wagon. An old police van.
So they chucked me in the back and we’re doing a 14-point turn up the curbs, every time we’re bumping over I’m going “eurghh”.