Mike Tyson rumbling on the reef against a new opponent: a shark

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Mike Tyson will kick off Discovery Channel's shark week by taking on a new opponent: a shark. (Photo: Discovery/Sharkweek via CNN Newsource)

WASHINGTON (SBG) — Mike Tyson will kick off Discovery Channel's popular "Shark Week" by taking on a new opponent in the ring ... maybe tank?

The network says the former heavyweight boxing champion will square off underwater against a shark, but it's all in the name of research.

"I took on this challenger to overcome fears I still deal with in life," Tyson said in a statement obtained by CNN. "I equate this with overcoming my fear of getting back into the ring at 54 years old. I learned from this experience doing 'Shark Week' that whatever intimidates me, I am still able to step up to the challenge of overcoming anything that would prevent me from accomplishing my life's mission of reaching my highest potential in life and bringing me closer to God."

A promo for the special, "Tyson Vs. Jaws: Rumble on the Reef," shows Tyson lifting weights, breaking a surfboard, trying to blow up an inflatable raft and knocking down a shark cage.

Details are murky. There's no word on exactly how Tyson and one of the ocean's top predators will interact or what this faceoff entails. However, the network said "no sharks were harmed (or bitten) in the making of this episode."

The special airs Sunday, Aug. 9, which is the first day of "Shark Week." The pop culture phenomenon includes more than 20 hours of programming and will run until August 16.

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