Don’t Put Tyson On Level With Boxing Greats
He has played the softest schedule in heavyweight history. The best fighter he has been in with, Michael Spinks, was a blown-up light heavyweight who went into the ring in a daze of trepidation.
This perfect engine of fistic destruction, as he has been described by the Don King hype machine, has failed to knock out such round-heeled china-chins as James Tillis, Mitch Green and James Smith, and won that coveted IBF belt from the brilliantly untalented Tony Tucker.
That was two heavyweight title belts that a former Brownsville mugger and convicted rapist named Mike Tyson won where the frozen food he fought went 12 rounds.
With the pay-per-view market safely cornered, King tossed his prodigiously profligate piranha on another tank filled with minnows.
I covered the sham with Larry Holmes, who went to Atlantic City for a payday, and went four rounds.
Tyson put all his titles on the line in Tokyo against timorous Tony Tubbs, who said sayonara in two.
Next came Spinks, the man everybody said he had to fight. It was the night Michael fought like older brother Leon, who is where the phrase “Dumb and Dumber” got started. You knew it would be quick when Tyson’s first body shot dropped Michael on his derriere. After that, Spinks offered less resistance than the August Phillies and he was counted out with lots of time left in the first.
Frank Bruno … Carl Williams … The beat went on. The money poured in.
By then, Cus D’Amato was long dead, trainer Kevin Rooney was long gone and Tyson was at the end of a loose management tether gripped by King, totally out of control. He did not let a staggering - in a literal sense - social life interfere with his preparation for a Tokyo heist involving an unmotivated, one-armed fighter named James “Buster” Douglas.
Was the 10th-round knockout victory by Douglas the greatest upset in boxing history? Not unless you buy into the fiction that Tyson rates with Dempsey, Tunney, Louis, Marciano, Ali, Frazier, Foreman I and Holmes. I don’t.
I covered his next fight, which was against Henry Tillman, who made the mistake of beating Tyson twice in the amateurs. There was a ringside electrical fire before the fight, which was all the electricity we got. Tillman, terrified, should have been wearing a mattress on his back. But nobody got seriously hurt and everybody made a ton on money.
In 1991, Tyson was 2-1, getting all he could handle from Donovan “Razor” Ruddock in a seven-round TKO, then needing the entire 12 for a decision in the rematch.
Then he raped Desiree Washington and was counted out by the Indiana jurisprudence system. The strategy of his high-paid Washington defense team was to depict Tyson as a brutish degenerate. If Washington went to the room of a known womanizer with a penchant for rough sex, the lawyers argued, the teenager must have been “asking for it.” Now, Tyon has finished a three-year prison term, embraced Islam and is ready to resume life in the heavyweight division’s fast lane.
And as I write this, Don King, the worst sleazoid in the history of homo sap’s sleaziest sporting endeavor, is shambling through the media work room of the MGM Grand like a giant porcupine on LSD. He is shrilly extolling the fistic worth of Peter McNeeley.
King passes from one radio talk show table to another, babbling the same mindless “Only in America” drivel … There! King just bellowed the phrase again for maybe the 20th time in the last 90 minutes. The only thing more pathetic than his message are the messengers who put him on the air.
I will be rooting for Mike Tyson from now on …
Yes … I will root for him to suffer deep gashes around both eyes. A broken jaw or two. A nose of mushy cartilage that seeps blood when stuck by the first jab and is running like a faucet by the time the referee says he has had enough. I will root for one of those back-dive knockouts, like the one in Tokyo where his head hit the canvas like a shotput. Who can forget the image of him pawing for his mouthpiece after it came jarring out, then chomping on an end of it like a giant infant with a pacifier while he was counted out.
I will root for Tyson to be exposed as the over-hyped fraud of a prizefighter I now believe he is. But first, boxing fans and foes will have to endure the annihilation of Peter McNeeley and the zombies King will line up for him during the setup for the next Fight of the Century.
The next FOTC can only logically be with Riddick Bowe and the money will have to be unlike any in boxing history for King to make the match. As wretched and undesirable a human being as he is, the sharkupine is a solid enough boxing man to know that Bowe, with his elegant jab and ability to fight on the move, is not a good style matchup for a fireplug with an attitude.
And Tyson looks as if he just graduated summa cum leud from Gold’s Gym, cut and musclebound. It might enhance the sale of cutoff sweatshirts, but it is not a good look in a division where the truly great ones were elegant men with long-muscled torsos.
I make no protest of moral outrage over the enormous amount of money a convicted rapist will be permitted to earn for wiping out a hand-picked opponent.
They have been telling us since he was knee-high to a probation officer that Mike Tyson is the baddest dude on the planet. Maybe … but he is not the best heavyweight fighter by any stretch.