Mike Tyson is back in action on Friday night and as usual, there is an air of lunacy surrounding the event. Word from presspersons trying to cover the event is that the man formerly known as the baddest man on the planet is acting up while he should be hyping up the fight.

We hear that Mike is due to earn a considerable chunk of change for fighting Corey Sanders in an exhibition in Youngstown, Ohio on Friday night in a bout that will be offered on Pay-Per-View, but he hasn’t been exceedingly cooperative in talking to the media. This has to bum out the organizers of this affair, who have to be chewing down their nails to the quick, as they hope people fork over dough to see an exhibition.

If you were Ohio native Sterling McPherson, the former Don King associate who’s the mastermind of this Tyson “World Tour,” would you be psyched to hear Tyson say, “It's all fun. I'm not Mike Tyson. I'm not 20 years old. I'm not going to smash anybody. I'm not going to talk about smashing anybody's brains. You're not going to see that guy no more.”

Yikes.

If you’re McPherson, you had to hope that the 40-year-old Tyson would talk a good game heading in to Friday, so potential buyers of the $30 PPV might be enticed into ponying up. I mean, he’s been around this block a few times, he’s trying to pay down his IRS bill, so one would think that he’d do the right thing. Right? But Tyson is like a used car salesman who tells a potential buyer that the vehicle was in a wreck five years ago, the engine was rebuilt, and oh yeah, the mechanic rolled back the odometer.

It can’t be said that Tyson, who said he was getting too fat and smoking too many butts after stepping away from the game in 2005, has completely, utterly dropped the ball on garnering press attention.

At a news conference to hype the PPV, Tyson said that on future legs of his exhibition tour, he may fight women. Ann Wolfe, the 21-1 super middleweight, would be one lady he would consider fighting, said Tyson, who served jail time from 1992 to 1995 on a rape charge.

Double yikes.

Not the sort of promotion that McPherson wants.

When queried about the intergender scrap, Wolfe’s manager said he knew nothing about it and that his fighter wouldn’t be down with that sideshow in the least.

Also, in case you missed it, Tyson gave his stamp of approval to Republican Michael S. Steele, who is campaigning for a U.S. Senate seat. Tyson said he would return to the ring, for real, if Steele thought it might help him.

“I would do anything to help Michael,” Tyson said in a phone interview Monday night. “I would box an exhibition for him. I would even fight again to help Mike. I would do anything.”

Tyson’s love for Steele, it turns out, doesn’t stem from some newfound interest in grassroots politics. Actually, the Washington Post reports, Tyson is pro-Steele because he was married to Steele's half-sister, Monica Turner.

Tyson and Turner married in 1998, and the boxer and Steele remained tight even after the couple's divorce, in 2003.

“I always considered him a brother,” Tyson said. “He's a remarkable human being.”

Tyson could well be the difference-maker in the race between Steele and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D), though not in the way Steele might like.

Steele spokesman Doug Heye responded by e-mail to the WaPo, “Mike Tyson is the father of the Lt. Gov's niece and nephew and therefore a member of his family.”

Readingin between the lines: this guy is loco, but he’s family loco, so I can’t say what I really think of him because my boss’s half-sister would be pissed.

Steele himself said he would “welcome in a heartbeat” the boxer's help, to the NY Times.

“He may be divorced from my sister, but I can't cast him aside,” Steele told the Times. “You embrace. You love. . . . I've never sat in judgment of him, and I never would.”

Lest some of you out there think less of Steele because of Tyson’s endorsement, hold on to your hat, because an even more vilified character has sung out his praises publicly for Steele—one Karl Rove, the slimy character assassin/GOP operative, has given the candidate the thumbs up.

In his last in-ring effort, Tyson was lustily booed for his losing effort against Kevin McBride. He responded by using his middle finger to express an obscenity.

After going out on such a high note, it’s surprising that we’ll be seeing Tyson climb through he ropes once more.

Yes, that was a drip of sarcasm you felt on your forehead.

Sigh.

I often want to believe that the seemingly recalcitrant can see the light, and find redemption and peace of mind. Because in certain ways, all of us are recalcitrants. We all stubbornly hold on to certain character defects. So if Tyson can change, we hope, maybe we can to. I was hopeful, as Tyson was retiring, when he said he’d set out on missionary work, and find himself. Instead, he finds himself in the same old jackpots. There hasn’t been a violent outburst in a spell, but no doubt many of the people who do pay up to watch his Friday exhibition will be tuning in to see if he snaps and goes earlobe hunting.

But I will hold out hope for Tyson, that he will eventually curb his self destructive tendencies and walk the straight and narrow path. In the meantime, though, a warning to Sanders: guard those earlobes.