Attention Must Be Paid: The Downfall of Mike Tyson

13.06.05 - By Craig Parrish: The careening sound heard emanating from Washington, DC, on Saturday night was the final derailment of the train wreck that has been the career of Mike Tyson. Tyson refused to come out for the 7th round of the fight, retiring on his stool. It was reported that he later said that if he came out, that he would “take a beating”. This statement could be used as a summation for the man’s life.. By sitting in his corner and refusing to fight his ponderous opponent, Tyson has apparently made the decision that most fight fans have known for years. He is done. It was a stunning moment, even for Tyson’s detractors. Although he has never been the same fighter that he once was since losing to Buster Douglas in Japan in 1990, one always felt that Tyson could come back and rule the division again if he really, really tried.

It was easy to blame his disastrous personal life, his drug addictions, half-hearted training efforts, torn knee cartilage. Underneath, most felt, the wrecking machine that was the young Tyson still lurked and could be reborn if only Tyson would commit to the sport that made him “The Baddest Man on the Planet”. Seemingly, that title can now only be attached to Tyson if
you are discussing his credit report. Had it come against a greater opponent, the decision might not have been so surprising.

Not to belittle Kevin McBride, he seems like a fine young man, but this is the slowest fighter I have ever had the displeasure of watching. There have been, and are some great boxers coming out of Ireland (John Duddy springs to mind), but McBride is certainly not one of them. He moves as if his feet were encased in 5 gallon buckets of the “old sod”. He promised to hit Tyson with “all of Ireland” behind his punches, and it is believable as it seems he is carrying the weight of the entire emerald isle on his gargantuan frame. I hope for McBride’s sake the “Powers that be” don’t match him up with Vitali Klitschko as they did the last “Tyson slayer”, Danny Williams. The beating that Williams took would be nothing compared to the destruction that Klitschko would unleash on the leviathan-like McBride. It would be ugly.

Tyson said after the fight not to pity him. Although he is certainly not a sympathetic character, all one has to do is look in the past at some of the fates of former prizefighters and fear for Tyson’s future. Joe Louis, one of the greatest boxers of all time, was so broke at the time of his death that Frank Sinatra stepped forward and paid for his funeral. Louis had tried to survive, working as a greeter at a casino and occasionally refereeing fights, but in the end he was a broken down shadow of the impressive figure he once was. There are not many options out there for Tyson. Commentator? Very unlikely for a man who is as “creative” with the English language as he is. Actor? There was a rumor floating around that Tyson was being considered for the Mr. T role in the “A-Team” movie. How many other roles would be out there for Iron Mike? Somehow, I don’t see Othello in his future.

While Tyson was a great slugger, I don’t think he can be ranked in the top 5 heavyweights of all time. Maybe not even in the top ten. Every time Tyson faced top opponents, he crumbled either psychologically or physically. Once the mystique of invincibility was destroyed in Japan, the abject fear that Tyson struck in the hearts of his opponents was gone. However, in his prime he was a force of nature, thrilling and frightening to watch as he chopped down opponents with lethal combinations. This was a young man who came from absolutely nothing, pulled from mugging old women on the street and trained to become a lethal weapon in the ring.

He still has millions of fans around the world and has made many people very, very rich. While he has struggled for years with his personal demons, in the end he is just a street kid that rose to the top and came crashing down again, now that the entourage and money are gone. The future for Tyson? Unknown. Many people are probably reveling in his final downfall (minus his creditors) and are happy to see him jettisoned to “Palookaville”. He is a flawed, unhappy man but Attention Must Be Paid.

Hopefully, some of the individuals that Tyson has made millions for will ensure that the fates of previous champions does not befall him.

Article posted on 13.06.2005

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