Why Cant We Let Go Of Mike Tyson?

03.06.04 - By Daniel Baguley: Tyson, you could almost add the word to the dictionary but I defy any man to come up with a suitable definition for it. It seems these days there is no end of fighters calling out Mike Tyson. Joe Mesi, James Toney, Roy Jones and now Antonio Tarver. To me I find it puzzling as Mike Tyson hasnít looked good for a very long time and I believe the only reason people want to get him in the ring these days are for financial reasons. Surely after the shellacking he took at the hands of Lennox Lewis he can no longer be considered a scalp can he? Well maybe he can because Tyson has only really lost three fights and with his power he still always has a chance although I believe the fact people still give him a chance speaks more about the current state of the heavyweight division than anything else.

But Iím not here to criticise the heavyweight division or criticise fighters for calling him out. Iím here to talk about the magnetic energy that still surrounds Tyson nearly sixteen years on from when he KOíd Michael Spinks in one round in what was probably the peak of his career. That night it would seem that Tyson was unstoppable, he had the world at his feet and people were talking about him smashing Marcianoís record. Three fights later that was all gone and never would we see Tyson perform at his best again. We all know the story so well but I believe had Cus DíAmato made it at least as far as the Spinks fight we could have seen a completely different story for Mike. The story that should have happened, the story that people dreamed about happening.

Last time I saw Mike speaking he looked old, tired but more content than I have seen him in a long time. He had been working with boxing contenders as part of his community service and even admitted it would take him an age and a year to get back in to shape. Still, it appears as if he will fight again. I believe the best thing for Mike as a person is to not fight again and involve himself with wholesome activities such as coaching, as I believe he has a lot to offer the game. Unfortunately whatís best for Mike always seems to come second. All his career there have been people around him with ill intentions, trying to get him to do things for their own selfish needs. Iím not suggesting Mike is entirely free of blame for the way his life has turned out but these people have taken advantage of him and helped lead him astray.

If he fights again and earns himself another eight figure sum all that would do is bring back these hangers on and it will just get him back in that old cycle again. Trouble is Tyson is magical. Adding that name to a card is like getting a wizard to wave a magic wand. The trouble is thatís all he is now, a name. People still hold on to the image of him sparking Berbick and delude themselves into believing that the Tyson they saw then will step back in the ring. He wonít. Eighteen years is a long time and I think its time the public let go of Mike Tyson. He doesnít owe us anything and if he wants to fight again it should be on his terms. Not Shelly Finkelís or any other of his associates.

Tyson has his place in history but discussing his all time rating is about as difficult as trying to define him. What I will say is that he creates an aura and brings excitement like no other man ever has or probably ever will. All this might make me sound like a big Iron Mike fan. Whilst I am a fan my favourite out of the big three (Tyson, Holyfield and Lewis) is Lennox. I found him intriguing in a different way and believe him to be one of the most gifted athletes to ever enter the ring. But weíll save that debate for another time. I think when we remember Mike in years to come there will always be a sense of something missing and potential unfulfilled. Whilst his achievements are still enviable I feel that vicious being, the force of nature that scared men and reduced them to bunnies caught in the proverbial headlights was never given his true chance to shine. Had he not lost to Buster Douglas I believe history could have been completely different. He and Holyfield would have met at the right time and, whilst their first meeting was a classic, it would have given a better indication of Tysonís ďGreatnessĒ.

Itís hard to see when he can go from here. I believe his only reasons for fighting again are financial ones. Heís well aware of his drawing power and the temptation to earn those afore mentioned eight figure sums remains a strong one. I think he will pick his opponents carefully and the opponent being touted for his next fight, Kevin McBride, seems to go with that trend. Mike himself has spoken out about fighting Antonio Tarver. This would suit him as it would be a huge money spinner, with minimum risk in the sense that if he was to lose the loss wouldnít come in the form of a heavy handed beating like the one he took at the hands of Lennox Lewis which will almost certainly still play on his mind.

So whilst the die hard fans will dream of Iron Mike rolling back the years and sparking Vitali Klitschko to regain the title, I hope he finds some stability in his life and can look back on his career in a perspective manner and feel some kind of contentment. After all is said and done, for a short time Michael Gerard Tyson had the whole world in the palm of his hand.

Article posted on 03.06.2004

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