It has been discussed, debated and fiercely argued about for years: who would win a Muhammad Ali Vs. Mike Tyson fight? Tyson fans insist their hero would have got the win, while Ali supporters not only insist Ali would have beaten Tyson, they also say a peak Ali would have beaten ANY heavyweight in history.
Tyson himself is a hugely knowledgeable fight historian and he is different to his passionate fans in that he gives Ali full respect and is not so quick to say he would beat “The Greatest.” Just recently, with lockdown still in place and live boxing action scarce, Tyson spoke once again about a mythical fight between he and Ali.
Once again, Tyson paid Ali full respect:
“I would know one thing – I would have to be ready to go 15 rounds,” Tyson said on social media. “I would be prepared to go 15 rounds with him because listen, I’m just keeping it real, ain’t nobody knocking him out. In his prime, they ain’t knocking him out. Even [Larry] Holmes, Ali’s one strange guy, you’ve gotta kill him to beat him, he won’t quit. Isn’t that weird, in his prime he looks like a model, he doesn’t even look like a fighter. It ain’t pretty, he’s not pretty either, he’s a junkyard dog with a pretty face. He’s pretty, but he ain’t pretty. Inside he’s as nasty as me. He’s a vicious animal.”
Interesting stuff from Tyson. Ali did have incredible mental strength as we know, far greater than Tyson had. Would this have been the difference in a fight between the two? Then again, the peak Tyson would have matched Ali for hand speed, maybe even had a slight edge. And we know how hard Tyson could hit.
Ali, earlier on in his career, was on occasion vulnerable, to a left hook especially; see his fights with Henry Cooper and Sonny Banks. And Tyson had a whistling and lethal left hook. On the other hand, Ali had a truly great chin as well as awesome recuperative powers; and even a peak Tyson faded a touch and grew frustrated if he didn’t get the quick stoppage; see his fights with James Tillis and Tony Tucker.
Would a Tyson-Ali fight have gone 15 rounds? Or would one of them have fallen? Tyson never went 15 rounds in his career, yet there is nothing to suggest he wouldn’t have been able to do so. But against Ali, would Tyson have made it that far? Maybe, in a Dream Fight scenario, Ali and Tyson would have needed to have boxed a trilogy to find out who was the superior fighter.