Jeff Fenech Told Mike Tyson He Couldn’t Fight After Getting Face Tattoo, Tyson Proved Him Wrong
Jeff Fenech has revealed that he was mortified when boxing legend Mike Tyson went under the needle for his notorious tribal tattoo.
The 55-year-old retired boxer was helping Tyson to train ahead of his bout with Clifford Etienne in 2003.
But Fenech, who would eventually become the 53-year-old's trainer in 2005, was stunned when he saw the enormous tattoo on the side of his face.
The Hall of Famer admitted that he told Tyson that he couldn't fight against Etienne.
"One day, I was waiting for him at the gym and he doesn't turn up," the boxing trainer told the Spinning a Yarn podcast.
"So, I went back to the house and all of a sudden it's five or six o'clock in the afternoon and he walks in.
"I look at him and he has a massive tattoo on his face. I looked at him and said, 'Mike, you can't fight.'
"My understanding of tattoos is that if they're new or fresh or they get messed up or punched, you could get an infection, so I didn't think he could fight."
Fenech was working with 'Iron' Mike for eight weeks in preparation for the fight and revealed that he was "in tears" when he left.
Tyson, who was battling his inner demons outside of the squared circle, was coming off a devastating defeat to Lennox Lewis going into the Etienne clash.
Legendary trainer Freddie Roach filled in for Fenech, but even he felt that the former undisputed world heavyweight champ wasn't in the right conditioning for the fight.
When the fight almost fell through, Fenech said that Showtime threatened to sue the 'Baddest Man on the Planet.'
"Mike told me he wasn't going to fight, but then, apparently, Showtime said they were going to sue him, so of course he fought and he knocked the guy out in a round," he explained.
"I trained him, but Freddie Roach got the credit for it because I went home days before the fight because Mike got that tattoo on his face.
"I trained him for that whole fight. I didn't think it was going to happen, but the next thing you know, he fights and knocks the guy out in a round."
Tyson defeated Etienne in the first minute of round one by knockout, which notched up his 50th professional victory.
But the boxing legend would suffer back-to-back defeats to Danny Williams and Kevin McBride before calling it time on his illustrious career.
When he was asked if he regretted the face tattoo, Tyson told Sports Illustrated in 2016: "No. A lot of stuff happened out of this tattoo, a lot of good stuff.
"Other young athletes come to me and said, It's because of you they call it the Mike Tyson.
"People have to register their tattoos. You have to have the likeness of your tattoo."
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