On The Mike Tyson Comeback
As a wave of 90’s nostalgia crashed over the American public with the release of “The Last Dance” on ESPN, a ten-part docuseries chronicling the legendary six-season championship run from Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls, a second wave of 90’s nostalgia would come crashing down as we were all glued to our screens- making for the perfect storm.
What was initially viewed as just a promotional post for the movie “Bad Boys For Life” starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence (as you can see by the caption)- may just have been the anthesis of a much larger thought- larger than trying to sell DVD’s of the hackiest movie to hit the cinemas this year.
In what would become the most talked-about six-punch combination in the history of combination punching (Three-Million views on Instagram, 9-Million on Twitter), fans were in hysterics speculating whether or not this was a hint that the now 53-Year-Old “Baddest Man on the Planet” would be returning to the pugilistic arts after 15-Year away from the squared circle.
Those speculations would be confirmed just one week later, in similar fashion to the first training clip:
A sweat drenched Mike Tyson exclaims after smashing legendary MMA-Coach Rafael Cordeiro’s pad-covered hands. “We began training three weeks ago,” Corderio would say in a series of quotes to the media, “He needs [to train] six months for a fight with anyone…” Later, speaking to British Tabloid TalkSport the two-time MMA trainer of the year would rave that “Mike Tyson has the speed and power of a 21-Year-Old,” and that, “He’s going to kill somebody”.
Still, even with such high praise from the MMA mastermind, this announcement that Tyson intends on coming out of retirement was accompanied with a heavy dosage of skepticism from the talking heads in the combat sports fraternity, “It’s amazing what a job editing can do” (referring to the second clip) Boxing Journalist Michael Montano wrote on Twitter. “Look, (shadow boxes to the camera) I still got speed and I’m 63-Years-Old” former cornerman and mentor of Mike Tyson, Teddy Atlas, would proclaim on SportsCenter, “The pads don’t hit back, it doesn’t tell us anything”.
It may seem like a harsh reaction- and you probably still have a lot of questions, that’s what this article is for. Now, I’ve gotten all the textbook journalism stuff out of the way- This is what I think about all of this. Based almost entirely on opinion (and conjecture).
Is Mike Tyson Returning To Boxing?
Yes, he is, well, no… sorta kinda?
I want to draw your attention to the two aforementioned videos that came from Tyson’s social media accounts- What do both of those videos have in common? besides Tyson? well, both of those videos are actually advertisements. They might not look like advertisements, but they are. In the first video, the caption indicates that he was payed to promote the previously mentioned “Bad Boys For Life” film. In the second clip, it is blatantly an advertisement based on the fact that brand “SmartCups” has their logo plastered on the end of the clip, and, their tagline is in the caption of the clip.
Do you remember that time that Floyd Mayweather Jr. set the internet ablaze by posting the clip of him in the middle of a MMA cage teasing a move to the UFC to face Conor McGregor in 2018 after beating McGregor in boxing in 2017?
Obviously, Floyd never jumped into MMA, that was an advertisement, in the 20-second video that Mayweather has since deleted he boisterously said “It’s your move, Paddy.” It would seem like Floyd was using “paddy” as a derogatory term for an Irishman (i.e.) Conor McGregor, but he was actually referring to a gambling company that he had shares in (paddypower.ie).
No, I don’t think Mike Tyson would prostitute himself and his fame out there like Floyd Mayweather (or any other celebrity) frequently does for any company that throws a couple of dollars at him, I just find it to be a tad bit peculiar that both of the videos teasing Tyson’s comeback have been sponsored. Especially the way one came right after the other. If nothing ever comes of this perceived comeback, you’ll know it was just a money grab. But, if a company was throwing a couple thousand around just to hit some mitts and talk tough, would any of us truthfully turn the money down?
Another reason I give credence to the idea that Mike Tyson is actually coming back to the sport and this isn’t a bizarre marketing/promotional tactic is an emotionally overwhelming conversation that he had with fellow boxing legend “Sugar” Ray Leonard on his podcast “Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson” that honestly almost brought me to tears myself.
““I know the art of fighting. I know the art of war. That’s all I’ve ever studied. That’s why I’m so feared,” Tyson said on his podcast. That’s why they feared me when I was in the ring. I was an annihilator. That’s all I was born for. Now those days are gone. It’s empty. I’m nothing. I’m working on being the art of humbleness. That’s the reason why I’m crying, ‘cause I’m not that person no more. And I miss him. ’Cause sometimes I feel like a b****,” Tyson added. ”Because I don’t want that person to come out, ‘cause if he comes out, hell is coming with him And it’s not funny at all. It’s not cool, like, I’m a tough guy. It’s just that I hate that guy. I’m scared of him.”
To make another comparison between Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather, do you remember the time that Floyd had that “exhibition bout” with Japanese MMA Fight Tenshin Nasaukawa on New Year’s Eve of 2018?
Well, if you don’t, here’s the fight in it’s entirety:
Take a nice long look at this glorified sparring session, watch as Mayweather bounces the boyish Nasukawa off the canvas like a basketball.
If Mike Tyson comes back to boxing, he’ll be in exhibition bouts, it will probably be 3-4 rounds rather the standard professional length of 10-12, it won’t be for a championship, there will not be any drug testing, and Tyson won’t be facing anyone remotely close to the top ten in any division.
By the time Mike Tyson had retired, I was only Five-Years-Old, as a student to the sport of boxing, and an avid historian, I would give up anything to have witnessed Mike Tyson fight live in the middle of his unprecedent destruction on any given heavyweight that stood across from him. But, We need to sober up, we have to realize that Tyson peaked somewhere between the two fights he had with Donovan “Razor” Ruddock all the way back in 1991! Yeah- almost three decades ago- 30-Years!
The reason Mike stepped away from the sport wasn’t because he was too dominate and having too much success. No, it was because he could compete with the middle-tier, mediocre, heavyweight. His last two losses, both of which Tyson was finished off in, were against career-long journeymen- Kevin Mcbride (35-10) and Danny Willams (54-28)- who never came close to winning or even fighting for a legitimate heavyweight title. Both of them wouldn’t of been able to last a single round with prime Tyson, let alone beat him, let alone knock him out.
So, Who Would Tyson Face?
Look, I know this going to come off to some like I’m trying to snipe at Mike Tyson and discredit him- but that isn’t what i’m trying to accomplish here at all.
I vehemently respect and adore Mike Tyson for everything he has done in the ring, and, the way he has rebuilt himself and his life after the prison sentence and his winning battle over the most difficult opponent of them all- addiction. He is a champion, a thoroughbred, a once-in-history type of athlete, a worldwide icon, and dare I say- a more beloved figure than any president in the history of the United States. I just want him to be remembered as such, and I want his legacy to be protected and in-tact for future generation.
Which is why, if he does comeback, the only truly logical choice is former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield.
Holyfield, Now 57, most recently fought in 2011, a winning effort over career-long loser Brian Nielsen. But, like “Iron” Mike, Evander peaked much earlier than his last fight. I would reckon Holyfield peaked in 1997 with his stoppage victory over over Michael Moore to unify the IBF and WBA Heavyweight Championships. (for reference, Moore was the fight immediately after Evander’s rematch with Tyson “The Bite Fight”.) I would understand why this selection might puzzle you, as Holyfield is every-last bit as old and washed up as Mike Tyson, but, the difference is, Holyfield’s legacy isn’t as revered as Tyson’s, for whatever reason, when you say “Evander Holyfield” to the vast majority of the population, they’ll say, “oh yeah, the guy that got his ear bitten off by Mike Tyson”. For whatever bizarre reason, Holyfield’s incredible career, arguably equal-if-not-better than Tyson’s, gets deduced down to being just the guy who got bit.
Perhaps, if Holyfield were to return to fight Mike Tyson, regardless of the result of the exhibition bout, the younger generation, my peers, would look a little deeper into the career of Evander Holyfield rather than doing him the injustice that society has done him in respect to how his boxing career is perceived.
There’s the legacy variable, and the fact that he’s yearning for the fight, he called Tyson out after Mike posted the videos- not the other way around. For whatever reason, Holyfield wants to fight Mike again, maybe it’s to beat him a third time- maybe it’s to increase his bank account by a couple of million, maybe he just misses the sport he was so damn great at. No matter the reason, Holyfield is the perfect opponent- the only opponent- the only reasonable option for Mike Tyson’s “comeback”.
As you can probably tell, I, myself, have mixed feelings about Tyson coming back to a sport known for it’s merciless brutality. At the end of the day though, it’s his legacy and his decision whether he returns to the ring or not, whether he puts on a couple of exhibition bouts , or, he does the unthinkable and tries to face a ranked heavyweight*1. No matter what happens, I just hope Mike Tyson stays safe, and I hope he’s remembered as one of the most incredible athlete’s to ever walk the face of the earth.
*1 [and, on that note, to briefly jump back to Tyson’s last two fights in ’04-’05, what makes people think Mike Tyson can magically waltz back into the ring and beat the likes of a Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, or Anthony Joshua? is it because he’s been inactive for 15 Years and we’ve forgot? or is it because he’s 53-Years-Old and being almost a senior citizen means he can compete with a fighter in their physical prime?]