Monday, June 13, 2005


I hope this weekend’s disgraceful loss to Kevin McBride will take Mike Tyson’s name out of the running of all-time greatest heavyweight champions. He should make the top ten (barely) because of his ferocious knockouts in the mid and late 80s but in the last two decades he’s been nothing more than a decent fighter.

Tyson has lost three of his last four fights, two of them to nobody’s, and is a very unimpressive 5-5 with two No Contests in his last twelve fights. Tyson himself called McBride a “tomato can” and said he would “gut him like a fish” at the pre-fight press conference. Iron Mike did neither. He quit after six rounds when he realized that he couldn’t punch, head-butt, arm lock or bite his way past the big, slow Irishman.

I’ll admit I wanted the old Iron Mike to come back. When he lost last July to Danny Williams I thought it was a fluke. When he said he would put McBride on his back I believed he would. My thought was...2nd round KO. I like many have believed this character for far too long.

I like the storyline of the Iron Mike Tyson tale…kid from the ghetto gets into lots of trouble, bad family life, and destructive attitude towards everybody. But he’s rescued by an old man who also happens to be a boxing trainer. Cus D’Amato showed him the ropes, so to speak, gave him love and a stable home and groomed him into one of the finest knockout powers in boxing history. But Tyson was never the same after Cus died and shortly thereafter he had falling outs with trainers Teddy Atlas and Kevin Rooney. The story that was so great reverted back to madness again as Tyson dealt with a divorce and multiple run-ins with the law.

Once Buster Douglas, a fighter who never beat a top heavyweight before or after he knocked Tyson out, knocked him out in Tokyo, Japan way back in 1990 the stigma of him being unbeatable was gone. The feeling that he would and could just bully the entire sport started to go up in smoke that night.

But Mike came back strong in his fights after the Douglas loss and was primed to win back his heavyweight title from the then champion Evander Holyfield. In a blink of an eye his career was put on hold when he was charged with raping a beauty pageant contestant. Mike swore up and down and sideways that he had consensual sex with the girl but was convicted and sent to jail. He could’ve left sooner than he did had he admitted to the rape, but he continuously denied it stayed in prison longer.

When he came back after the layoff he was obviously rusty and had a few easy fights to gradually bring him back. But with his comeback hanging in the balance he was TKO’d in the 11th round (on my birthday) by Holyfield. None of us will forget the rematch when Tyson bit off a chunk of Evander’s ear and swallowed another big loss.

Remember he ducked Lennox Lewis back in the mid-90s and then was pummeled by Lennox in 2002. He didn’t want to fight George Foreman although big George was in his early forties. His career is very similar to his big fights - he came out hard and fast and tired even faster.

When he fought Holyfield the second time he gave up then too. Biting his way out of another beating that was bound to happen. He quit against Danny Williams, a guy who is known for having panic attacks before fights, and he quit Saturday night against Kevin McBride when he realized he wasn’t going to win by intimidating and his early hard punches were taken.

I hope that Iron Mike does what he says and retires. I rooted for him as a kid and as an adult – many times making family and friends wonder why? Why – because he was a show and has been the underdog since he was a kid flying pigeons in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Even when he was the champ people were waiting and watching for him to slip up…and even when he did, I wanted him to get back up and fight on. Now that Tyson refuses to fight on – it’s time for him to hang up the gloves and move on with his life.


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