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Twenty years have passed since Mike Tyson created an unforgettable storm when he came to the UK amid objections from the media, the government and never-before-seen adulation from fans. Julius Francis was the proverbial sacrificial lamb served up to the monster and here, alongside trainer Mark Roe and promoter Frank Warren, he talks to Declan Warrington about the whole event
SUPERSTAR: Tyson addresses the crowds that gather to catch a glimpse of their hero [right, bottom right]

HOW did you feel when the fight was confirmed?

JULIUS FRANCIS: I was very happy to have even been considered. He was and is intimidating, but I can’t say I was frightened, ‘cause I wasn’t. I wasn’t frightened; I was more bothered about my daughter being born, even though I had to be selfish in going away to train.

MARK ROE: To reach them sort of heights was as good as any world title fight.

I wasn’t nervous at all. The only concerns I had were if the fight would really happen, and to make sure that Julius wasn’t entirely beyond his capabilities with such a formidable opponent. Even though he’d been beat, Tyson was still thought of as the invincible foe.

FRANK WARREN: Panos Eliades was also trying to get him over to the UK. Tyson was tied in with Showtime, who I believed he owed money, for advances. They suggested bringing him here, and it wasn’t easy, but we got it over the line. I wanted to put it on at the Millennium Stadium [in Cardiff], but Tyson’s mob were terrified it wouldn’t sell, which was really annoying. We then sold out the M.E.N Arena [as it was then known] without even announcing an opponent.

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About Boxing News

TYSON vs FRANCIS – The 20th anniversary of ‘Iron’ Mike’s memorable UK visit ANDRADE & FARMER – The world champs speak ahead of defending in Miami TERRY YOUNG – Carlos Acevedo tells the tragic tale of the 1940s lightweight MUCH, MUCH MORE – Including Danny Garcia, Jarrett Hurd and Jason Quigley