People are still talking about the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones exhibition bout. The fight pulled in simply incredible P-P-V numbers, of well over 1.5 million buys in the US, and plenty of people were impressed with Tyson’s conditioning – George Foreman among them.
For certain, Tyson proved a few things: he is still a genuine star (and always will be), and he is in amazing shape for a 54-year-old. There is talk of further exhibitions, with old foe Evander Holyfield apparently the front-runner as far as the next one goes. But more than a few people want to see Tyson engage in a real fight, not another exhibition.
You can add the name of another former heavyweight champ to this list. Tim Witherspoon, a two-time ruler back in the 1980s, spoke with Sun Sport, and the 62-year-old (who looks a whole lot younger than that) went as far as Foreman went in stating his belief that, with time, “Iron Mike” could take on and be competitive with today’s big men.
Witherspoon said that if Tyson managed to hit a Deontay Wilder, a Tyson Fury, and Anthony Joshua, he would “knock them out in a real boxing fight.” Witherspoon believes neither of the three names he mentioned has a sound defense, that Tyson “has the heart to get in there and hurt one of these and knock them out.”
“I think if he were to come back and fight Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder, I think he would need a couple of warm-up fights,” Witherspoon said of Tyson. “He couldn’t do it in one fight. He will need a couple of fights and then take the fight. I think he would do really well against Fury or Wilder.
To me, he was sharp and strong (in the Jones bout) but needed to engage in a couple more fights before fighting these guys. All Mike has to do is get used to the sparring and boxing to get back to his old self.
I’m not saying they can’t take a punch, but if Mike hits them, they are definitely going down. They lack defense. Wilder is five percent defense out of 100 percent. Joshua 15 percent. Fury 25 percent because he moves a lot and does a lot of fakes.”
Can you believe what Witherspoon is saying? Do you agree, even to a degree, that Tyson would have the proverbial puncher’s chance against one of today’s elite heavyweights?
That Tyson-Jones exhibition certainly did something to a whole lot of people. It took people back in time to Tyson’s heyday. No matter, there would be next to zero chance of any sanctioning body giving a Tyson-Tyson Fury, Tyson-Deonta Wilder, or Tyson-Anthony Joshua fight the go-ahead.
The Tyson mystique is in full swing. People can dream. People can get carried away. Exhibitions are, of course, one thing; real fights are something else entirely. Tyson himself has expressed no interest in engaging in anything other than exhibitions. Let’s all hope it stays that way.
Witherspoon is an interesting person and a great guy, but does he himself really, truly believe what he’s been saying? Nostalgia is king, that’s for sure.