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Mike Tyson needs boxing. Boxing needs Mike Tyson.

Boxing, however, has lost the Golden Goose before and survived.But it's not clear if Mike Tyson will survive the loss of boxing.

"Boxing will always survive," said 80-year-old trainer Eddie Futch, who has spent much of his life in the game.

"Boxing made Mike Tyson. Boxing isn't responsible for Mike Tyson."

Yet, boxing is the kind of world which allowed Tyson to exist on his terms and which cashed in on him at the same time.

On the other hand, boxing was not only Mike Tyson's world, but it seemed it also was his reason for existing.

Can Tyson survive without boxing? What will a prison term do to Iron Mike?

Tyson was sentenced to prison Thursday on a conviction of rape, which he is appealing. He apparently will serve from three to six years.

"After he goes to jail and does time, there's one thing I've wondered about - bitterness," said George Benton, who trains heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

"He can come out and be a different guy, with a chip on his shoulder, and he won't do nothing but brood."

That chip on the shoulder already was evident Thursday when Tyson said that his trial for rape had humiliated him all over the world.

"Even women are coming up to me and saying humiliating things," he said.

"I didn't rape anyone."

Even if he hadn't been convicted, three years might have been the last productive years for Tyson, who will be 26 June 30.

"If he loses that speed, that will take all the fight out of him," Benton said.

While power and intimidation were Tyson's trademarks, the keys to the former heavyweight champion's success - a title at age 20, a record of 41-1, with 36 knockouts - were blazing hand speed and quick feet.

Without these qualities, which only the very best fighters possess, Tyson is just a small heavyweight. His height was listed at 5-feet-11. He appears closer to 5-9.

Without them, "he'll be easy to beat," Benton said. "He's never had stamina."

"He had begun a type of decline before this," said Futch, who trained former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier and who now trains a leading contender in Riddick Bowe.

"He was throwing one punch at time. He was standing up and walking straight in."

He was winning, however, and in a division without much depth, he could keep on winning.

Also, he was, without doubt, the biggest draw in the sport.

Aficionados might criticize him, but they would not fail to watch him.

Non-boxing fans were attracted to his fights through his out-of-the-ring escapades.

The sense of menace he brought to a fight always has been a magnet. Will the bully dominate or will he get his comeuppance like he did against Buster Douglas at Tokyo in 1990?

Mike Tyson has been one of the most exciting fighters in the heavyweight division since the brawling Jack Dempsey in the 1920s.

Joe Louis was brilliant, but machine-like. Rocky Marciano was money-in-the bank and machine-like. Muhammad Ali was a personality, who not only fought well, often brilliantly, but talked a good game as well.

Tyson was simply mayhem - the essence of professional boxing to the general public.

One thing is for sure, no matter what kind of man or fighter Tyson is when he walks out of prison, whoever is heavyweight champion at the time will make a great deal of money fighting Iron Mike.