UB Director of Athletics Bob Arkeilpane knew he hit the jackpot when he attracted EPSN 2's "Friday Night Fights" to Alumni Arena for a Friday April 5 bout featuring Buffalo favorite son Joe Mesi challenging 31-year-old New Zealander Keith McKnight in the main event, an event that sold out in record time.
Well, that pot just got a whole lot sweeter.
The McKnight camp revealed last yesterday he broke his hand in a sparring session on Monday. The Mesi camp quickly scrambled for a replacement and after a series of phone calls, they decided upon another New Yorker to face Mesi - none other than Brooklyn's own former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson.
While this news comes as a startling revelation to the boxing world and the general public, talks have been taking place for months between the two camps. In fact, after Mesi's last first-round knockout against another overmatched opponent, his manager Chester Glynn decided it was time for a better gauge of Mesi's pugilistic talents.
He narrowed it down to two fighters: Tyson and McKnight. A victory against Tyson would surely lift Mesi into top contender status and would almost guarantee him a shot at one of the four belts awarded by professional boxing's four governing bodies.
Ultimately though, Team Mesi thought it in its best interest to first go through the journeyman McKnight, who, at 41-3, many experts believe to be past his prime. They would then move ahead to a big money fight.
McKnight's injury changed the equation.
Tyson, on the other hand, has nothing to lose in fighting Mesi, as he is already booked into a June 8 title unification bout against current champion, Lennox Lewis.
By fighting Mesi, he has a chance to fine tune his skills against one of the upcoming young heavyweights in the division, as well as pick up the $50,000 purse, which insiders in his camp say he desperately needs to pay child support, alimony and other court-mandated fees to an estimated 85 women across the United States and throughout the world.
Tyson comes hand-in-hand with controversy. Friday's fight is no exception. The man who once stated that he could sell out Madison Square Garden masturbating had a different, but no less offensive, entrepreneurial idea for the 9,500-capacity Alumni Arena.
When asked whether it might be intimidating to fight Mesi in his hometown, Tyson responded, "How big is this Arena? I could take a sh- that would cover this whole Arena if I had enough buffalo wings."
He then praised the culinary establishments in the Buffalo area, but then stated the university food was not fit for his pit bull. Considering his pit bull lives off a diet off rabid gerbils and rat feces, FSA Director Mitch Green took offense.
"As long as he doesn't eat any of our beloved students, I'll be happy," said Green.
Tyson then went on to say he would destroy the whole football team and then eat coach Jim Hofher's children after manhandling Mesi.
As for the administration, they are ecstatic about the prospects of hosting a boxing match of this magnitude, Tyson's derogatory comments notwithstanding.
It appears this is not a one trick pony; indeed Arkeilpane is in the process of setting up a series of high-profile fights scheduled to appear in Alumni Arena.
Arkeilpane is working with Fox Television to secure UB as the next host of "Celebrity Boxing," sometime in June. "We are quickly finding our niche as being one of the most scintillating boxing and entertainment havens on the East Coast," said Arkeilpane.
"Let's be serious: did any man between the ages of 15-45 not experience a slight tingling in their groin area when they watched the Paula Jones vs. Tonya Harding bout? That was a thing of beauty," he added.
Arkeilpane is in the preliminary stages of trying to set up a lucrative main event, featuring Paula Poundstone and Rosie O'Donnell. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm salivating just thinking about the two of them exchanging blows," said UB President William Greiner.