"Pardon me," Tyson said.
The fan repeated his tribute.
"Thank you, sir," said Tyson, who happens to agree with that assessment even though he does not have a title and has lost his last two fights, both to Evander Holyfield.
"I'm the champion even when I'm not the champion," said Tyson, who begins his latest comeback Saturday night in a 10-round bout against Francois Botha in the MGM Grand Garden.
Tyson noted that Holyfield is getting $20 million and Lennox Lewis is getting $10 million for their heavyweight championship unification match March 13 at New York's Madison Square Garden.
"That can't make any money without me," said Tyson, who is expected to make more than $20 million Saturday night. "If I fought on the same night , they wouldn't make a living."
Ticket sales, however, have been slow for the match which falls midway between two big Las Vegas weekends -- New Year's and the Super Bowl. Jay Larkin, in charge of boxing for Showtime, thinks there will be about $1 million pay-per-view buys at either about $45 or about $50, depending on when you buy.
Boston signs ex-Royal Rapp
Boston -- Right-hander Pat Rapp agreed Monday to a one-year contract with Boston, giving the Red Sox a projected starting rotation of five former National Leaguers. Rapp, 31, spent 4 1/2 seasons with Florida and went 12-13 with Kansas City last season. He became a free agent after the Royals failed to offer him a contract by the Dec. 20 deadline.
Yanks' staff to stay intact
New York -- For the first time since George Steinbrenner's initial season as owner, the New York Yankees are bringing their entire coaching staff back for a fourth consecutive season. Don Zimmer (bench), Willie Randolph (third base), Chris Chambliss (batting), Mel Stottlemyre (pitching), Jose Cardenal (first base) and Tony Cloninger (bullpen) were rehired Monday.
In other Yankees' news, Ricardo Aramboles, the highly-touted Dominican right-hander signed last winter, began throwing last week following elbow surgery in October.
A's acquire reliever Jones
Oakland, Calif. -- Oakland, one of the major leagues' youngest teams, has signed one of baseball's oldest players. Right-handed reliever Doug Jones, 41, who has played for six other clubs during a 14-season major league career, signed a one-year free agent deal with the A's on Monday. Jones, who has 291 career saves to rank 11th on the career list, probably will be a middle reliever with the A's.
Marlins re-sign Mantei
Miami -- Matt Mantei, expected to be the Florida Marlins' closer this year, avoided arbitration when he agreed Monday to a $735,000, one-year contract.
Pirates sign three relievers
Pittsburgh -- Pittsburgh agreed to one-year contracts with left-handed reliever Jeff Tabaka and right-handed relievers Marc Wilkins and Mike Williams. All three were eligible for salary arbitration.
Reds land free-agent catcher
Cincinnati -- Catcher Brian Johnson, who became a free agent last month when San Francisco failed to offer him a 1999 contract, agreed Monday to a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds. Johnson, 31, has appeared in 385 games in five seasons with San Francisco, Detroit and San Diego. He has a .254 career average with 40 homers and 159 RBIs.
BU hires offensive coordinator
Waco, Texas -- Greg Meyer, who has been Northwestern's offensive coordinator for seven seasons, took the same job at Baylor on Monday. The hiring of Meyer, who also will be in charge of quarterbacks, completes the staff off newly-hired coach Kevin Steele.
Rainbows add to more to staff
Honolulu -- Greg McMackin, released by the Seattle Seahawks with the firing of Dennis Erickson, will join the University of Hawaii staff as defensive coordinator. Hawaii head coach Jun Jones, who is trying to resurrect a team that went 0-12 last year and is riding an 18-game losing streak dating back to the 1997 season, also named Ron Lee as wide receivers coach.
Penn State player shot
Monessen, Pa. -- Brad Jones, a freshman linebacker at Penn State, was in serious condition Monday after being shot in the neck from point-blank range. Police said Jones, 21, was shot Sunday around 2:30 a.m., following an argument Saturday night with Lanyere Rockamore, 25, and Albert Reid, 25, both of Pittsburgh. After walking away from the first exchange, Jones encountered the two men again. They were in one car and he was in another heading an opposite direction.
Idaho admits NCAA violation
Moscow, Idaho -- Idaho violated NCAA rules when an assistant coach -- who was later fired -- posted bail for two players arrested after the Vandals' Humanitarian Bowl win, athletics director Mike Bohn said.
Notre Dame's Williamson out
South Bend, Ind. -- Notre Dame forward Leviticus Williamson, who has played sparingly this season, will sit out the rest of the season for unspecified reasons, school officials said Monday.
Dickerson, Kausaite honored
Overland Park -- Randy Dickerson of Missouri Western and Jurgita Kausaite of Emporia State were named basketball players of the week Monday by the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
NBA subpoenaed in probe
Hartford, Conn. -- State attorney general Richard Blumenthal said Monday he has information that the NBA hastened the collapse of the American Basketball League by blocking the ABL's access to media and sponsors. Blumenthal issued a subpoena to the NBA, which oversees the Women's National Basketball Association, a rival to the former ABL. The subpoena was part of his investigation into whether the NBA conspired to monopolize women's basketball, he said.
Correjta advances in Sydney
Sydney, Australia -- Alex Correjta took a small step in his pursuit of the world's top ranking by winning his first-round match Monday in the Sydney International. Correjta, the Spanish standout ranked No. 3 in the world, defeated Germany's Hendrik Dreekman 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the Australian Open tune-up event.
- Compiled from J-W News Sources