Mike Tyson, The Myth - Flawed Boxer and Overrated Champion
Mike Tyson made some noise in his time, both in and out of the ring. In the ring much of it did not "ring true" (no pun intended) and this will be the focus of my commentary. I will not delve into the man's personal life, except to say that his legacy in this regard is grossly disdainful and far from the "sweet music" we heard delivered by other Champions, and I refer of course to Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali as incontrovertible American Icons. I will stick to the technical boxing facts, staying on course here to bear direct light on the man's professional skills and abilities along with his pugilistic reputation, often regarded, mistakenly so in my opinion, as among the "Best of All Time" and having the capacity to annihilate any Heavyweight in history on a given day.
I am the quintessential skeptic of Mr. Tyson's boxing efficiencies. I gravitated to sports at an early age and knew well the likes of Sandy Koufax, Bill Russell, Bobby Hull, Yury Vlasov (1960 Rome Olympics) and Cassius Clay (1960 Rome Olympics) before my contemporaries where even aware they were in possession of a penis bone. So, not bagging here, I know athletic genius when I see it. I was the only kid in my grade school who wanted Clay to win (and knew he would do so) vs. Liston in 1964. He has been my hero since the age of 7 when I saw him in the Rome Olympics. I draw inspiration from him on a daily basis still. I can say with a resounding certainty that "Kid Dynamite" a.k.a., "Iron Mike" Tyson is no genius.
Tyson's ferocious fighting style created an air of invincibility. He wore black...shoes, sox and trunks, and stared down those adversaries who felt he functioned without civility. He moved straight ahead with no resistance and KO'ed opponents with either hand by uppercut, cross or hook, often within one or two rounds. The public's fascination with him can be readily seen on You Tube (do a search on Tyson vs. Ali), or for that matter, look-up "Top Ten Greatest Boxers of All Time" (The Ultimate List) right here on Hub Pages (Tyson at #5 for Christ's sake, http://druhepkins.hubpages.com/hub/Top-Ten-Greatest-Boxers-of-All-Time#comment-8355730). Here you will find that his enamored supporters willing show their ignorance with statements pointing to Tyson's "invincibility" and possessing the "psychological persona" to defeat any man on the planet, past or present.
The Biggest Upset in the History of Boxing
In Tokyo on January 11th, 1990 Mr. Tyson was KNOCKED-OUT and lost his Championship at the ripe old age of 23 to an unknown by the name of "Buster" Douglas who was a 45-1 underdog. The fight is rightfully regarded as "The Biggest Upset in the History of Boxing." When queried about this inexplicable loss his supports rage that he was overweight (?only 2 lbs. heavier than when he won the Championship?), he didn't train for the fight (?a Champion?), that he was at a loss because he was fighting without his former "corner men" for the first time (? OMG, really ?) and that he was "past his prime" (??? at 23 yrs. old ???). It is unfounded excuse after unfounded excuse from his supporters, all totally uninformed and invented gibberish. He was never the same boxer after this fight; "invincibility" and "psychological persona" gone. Myth exposed.
Tyson was, by any measure of heavyweight standards, a diminutive slugger; barely 5'10" tall and with a reach of only 71 inches. Not helping matters any, he was a one dimensional fighter in style. He worked flat footed, and his only tactic was to move in on his opponent straight ahead with a lunge and use his best attempt to batter the foe into submission. Inadequate "tactics and strategies"...he walked directly into punches.
The Counter Strategies
"Buster" Douglas worked behind a stiff left jab and moderate amount of footwork. This led to combinations and right hand leads. When Tyson lunged in with his traditional "arsenal" the taller and stronger boxer simply tied him up, smothering the dwarfish boxer and thus limiting him to one punch retaliations. These counter strategies were used by Holyfield, Lewis and Danny Williams who all had KO's over Tyson.
The Question Marks
1.) His stamina and ability to deliver the "knock out punch" after the first few rounds is a major question mark. 2.) Physical strength as well was called into question when going into the "Championship Rounds" (those fights past 10 rounds). 3.) His jaw, the ability to take a punch, was regarded as "minimal." 4.) As a result of taking a left jab, his eyes would regularly grow in size to that of a large egg, resulting in him becoming a "one eyed boxer." 5.) Courage; take a look at Tyson vs. Holyfield II. 6.) The caliber of his competition; most all were regarded as true "tomato cans."
The Intangible Strengths
Foremost in the character traits of Champions is that they are in possession of "intangible strengths," i.e., "mental abilities" and having the capacity to deliver on "tactics and strategies"...and most noteworthy of all...HAVING THE ABILITY TO OVERCOME ADVERSITY!!! In this world Muhammad Ali was without an equal, bar none. These were his greatest weapons, they are the strongest competitive advantage possible. Opponents have no counter strategy to defend against them. Tyson was one dimensional, no strategy, lacking in mental ability and courage, and lastly, certainly without a trace of strength to overcoming adversity.
Tyson was not the only fighter capable of delivering a knock out blow. I submit the fight records of at least 3 superior Champions whose KO records (before they faced Ali) stand as proof and testament of my position.
Sonny Liston (35-0 with 27 by KO)
George Foreman (40-0 with 37 by KO)
Joe Frazier (30-1 with 26 by KO)
These men were a combined 105-1 with 90 by KO who fought one another, or Ali, and were all HW Champions during the "Golden Era of Boxing."
The Greatest of All Time
There can be only one...he is Muhammad ("Worthy of All Praises") Ali (Most High"). He defeated, by KO I might add, all of the above and was in charge of all men from start to finish. It is a "sports sacrilege" to have Tyson anywhere near Ali on a list of "Greatest Boxers." At his best, in his prime, Tyson would look like a single engine open cock-pit crop duster vs. an Ali who was a Northrup B-2 Stealth Jet Fighter.
In just sticking to the technical boxing facts, the Myth is exposed and I submit that against any of the following (there are tons more) four Champions, i.e., Ali, Liston, Frazier and Foreman that Tyson goes from "Kid Dynamite" to "Boy Craps His Pants."