18 years ago, Mike Tyson was an unpredictable fighter, capable of scoring a devastating KO on one night, of acting like a maniac on another. By 2000, the world had witnessed the “Bite Fight,” that shocking night in Vegas when the former heavyweight king really lost it. Fans had also seen Tyson, by his own admission, do his level best to break opponent Frans Botha’s arm – this in Tyson’s first fight back after the suspension he was hit with for his cannibalistic actions in the second Holyfield fight.
However, the man the 34 year old faced in October of 2000 was even more unpredictable than was the past his best but still dangerously intimidating “Iron Mike.” Enter Andrew Golota, AKA “The Foul Pole.” Golota was a good fighter, a tough big man with power, a chin and skill. The problem was, Golota was, well, basically nuts. We’d all seen this in graphic fashion back in 1996, when Riddick Bowe was the unfortunate ex-champ sharing the ring with Golota. Not once but twice did the man from Warsaw get thrown out for deliberately and repeatedly belting Bowe with hard, nasty low blows.
Since those two crazy nights/fights, Golota had been smashed to quick defeat by Lennox Lewis and he had flat-out quit against “next big thing” Michael Grant, in another fight Golota was winning. What could we expect, just what should we brace ourselves for, when Tyson and Golota locked horns in the ring? On the night of October 20,th 2000 we found out.
Tyson, came out smoking as usual (no pun intended) and he put Golota under fierce pressure in the opening three-minutes, putting him down near the end of the round. Golota, already bleeding and looking bewildered, made it out of the round but he wanted no more. Twice 32 year old Golota informed his corner-man Al Certo he wanted out. Certo forced him out for round-two. In this session, though hurt some more, Golota actually began to fight back. For all his faults, Golota was not short on guts and courage.
But then, shockingly, bafflingly even (to those fans who had either never seen Golota fight before or to those who, for whatever reason, had faith he would fight hard and clean this time round) Golota quit ahead of round-three. With Certo chasing him around the ring in an attempt at putting Golota’s mouth-piece back in (“I should have stuffed it up his ass!” Certo would later say), the unhinged fighter refused to go back on his decision.
Claiming head-butts from Tyson had done the damage, Golota was a pitiful sight in the post-fight dressing room interview. Afflicted with a bad stammer, Golota was unable to put his actual thoughts into words. Never mind, his career was over this time. No more would his quitting on the biggest stage be permitted (astonishingly, Golota would in fact fight again, some 11 times, even fighting in three world title bouts!) As for Tyson, his win was soon demoted to a no-contest on account of how the former champ had tested positive for marijuana. This was the icing on the cake of craziness attached to this fight.
Still, what did we really expect when these two disturbed, troubled and desperate punchers collided? It sure was one wild night in Detroit 18 years ago.