The Return of Mike Tyson

29.05.04 - By Luke Dodemaide: In 1985 after the recent loss of heavyweight great Larry Holmes, the world was looking for a new power to reign supreme over the heavyweight division. Looking for a young destructive machine ready to step up, and lead his dictatorship over the heavyweight division. In Catskill, New York a young nineteen year old was training and knocking out all before him. Never had such a destructive tank been unveiled on the heavyweight division in the history of the sport. ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson was nineteen then, he was world champion at twenty, and was defending his heavyweight championship by knocking out the best fighters in the world before he could legally even knock down a cold beer.

Eighteen years later we find ourselves in a position similar to that of 1986. We have just lost our heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis to retirement, and right now the heavyweight division is looking very ordinary, to say the least.

Vitali Klitschko, through sheer size and strength alone, is a world class heavyweight. These attributes, and some considerable boxing skills, have lead Klitschko to his capture of the WBC and linear world heavyweight championship. So we got a champion, right? But what’s a champion without any real threats?

There’s WBA champion John Ruiz looking to unify? But watching his best bear hug impression for twelve rounds, is about as exciting as watching IBF champion Chris Byrd’s pursuit into making the Athens 2004 fencing team.
James Toney? The guy’s a former middleweight. And who’s he really beaten? Evander Holyfield’s motionless corpse? Juan Carlos Gomez is a very talented heavyweight, I’ll give you that, but politics are punishing the boxing world by keeping this guy out of the ring.

At the moment looking through that heavyweight division, it doesn’t look as though we have one fighter capable of getting that average Joe to pick up his phone and order a pay per view.

But on the 31st of June we see a fighter coming back from seventeen months of inactivity, guaranteed to get at least a few average Joe’s reaching for their credit cards, and that man is none other than ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. Mike Tyson, now thirty seven, may not have the lighting fast speed, the great movement or the dedication he had eighteen years ago, but that doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to Mike. This walking controversy machine still carries unbelievable power in both hands, and has the ability to sell pay per views no matter who he fights, there is no question about that.

Where the questions lie, is how much does a boxing purist look into Mike Tyson’s fight with Irish Kevin McBride ( 31-4 )? Is Tyson merely a circus act, travelling the country collecting easy money that will pay off his expensive lifestyle? Or does this old man still truly have a chance at once more regaining the world heavyweight championship? Call me crazy, but I still think Mike is a threat in the heavyweight division, and no, I’m not a blind Tyson fan or anything like that.

The way I look at it, there’s no Lennox Lewis around to give him a brutal clinical boxing lesson anymore. Tyson may be getting older, but he’s still got the power. There is no real, new, heavyweight super power on the scene right now. You could argue Vitali Klitschko, but to be honest I believe Tyson is capable of penetrating Vitali’s stiff defence, and once inside, who knows what havoc Tyson could conjure up on the Ukrainian.

WBA champion John Ruiz’ hit and hug style is liable to cost Ruiz his ears, but if Tyson can avoid being frustrated by all those affectionate embraces, then yes, Tyson can definitely really hurt Ruiz, and take home a world championship belt.

The only fighter I think Tyson should stay away from is IBF champion Chris Byrd. I can see this guy keeping out of the way of Tyson’s bombs all night, and winning a lopsided decision that could really be embarrassing for ‘Iron’ Mike.

If ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson were to regain a world heavyweight championship, there’s is no doubt it will be entertaining, to have Tyson back champion would be like a second hand breath of fresh air. But it would certainly would reflect he poor state of the alphabet soup heavyweight division.

Eighteen years ago Mike Tyson tore through the heavyweight ranks en route to the world heavyweight championship. Is he capable of returning back down those old roads once more?

Stranger things have happened. With proper training, and dedication, Mike can definitely make some noise. But the really big question here, revolves around Mike’s propensity to have personal and financial problems. Not since Cus D’amato died almost two decades ago, Tyson has never replaced the good offices of a life mentor who might have, or may still, help him plan ahead effectively and avoid self destruction. A guy like Tyson needs a mentor who he respects that can again install previously lacking motivation into this talented fighter, that would go a long way towards helping Mike to concentrate on boxing, and avoid personal distractions which can be so debilitating to a boxer’s career.

When Tyson steps out of the ring against McBride it is certain he will step out a winner. But this performance will unveil how much dedication and desire Mike has, not to mention if, at 37, if the deadly claws of age have sunk deeper into his flesh. What If ‘Iron’ Mike goes in there turns back the clock and shows us some vintage Tyson? Is that out of the question? Could Mike possibly head into a heavyweight championship fight later this year? Am I out of my mind to say Tyson could again reign supreme in 2004?

Stranger things have happened.

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Article posted on 29.05.2004

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