Many boxing experts and fans alike will agree that there were three stages in Mike Tyson's career. The first from 1985-1991, his prime years, before he was imprisoned, in which until 1990 he was considered unbeatable. The next piece of the Tyson career puzzle covers his first fight since his return from prison, against 36-1-0 heavyweight contender Peter McNeeley and the undefeated Buster Mathis Jnr, to his last shot at a world heavyweight championship in 2002 in which he was dismantled by ring legend Lennox Lewis.
This period is considered as the time in which Tyson was still a major force within the boxing world, however past his peak years and gradually on the decline. The last period covers Tyson's last three fights, and retirement in 2005 after losing to journeyman Kevin McBride. This is known as his lowest years in which he claimed he did not want to embarrass the sport of boxing anymore.
Despite his entire career being highly publicized, since his retirement it is Tyson's highest and lowest moments, and with the exception of the Holyfield bouts, the middle part of his career is seemingly less analyzed than the other two periods.
Compiling Tyson's record from his comeback against McNeeley to the fight against Lewis, it stands at 8 wins, 3 losses (all in championship bouts) and 2 no contests. His record in title bouts during that span was 2-3-0.
When Tyson came back from prison his first two fights were highly, but perhaps unfairly, criticized. It was thought that "Iron Mike", as he was still known, should be fighting more creditable opponents. Many enthusiasts took the view that McNeeley was an unproven fighter with a very padded record, while Buster Mathis Jnr. was made for Mike's style, being a light hitter who wasn't particularly graceful within the ring. However, these were his first bouts in almost four years and it is easy to find faults with the complaints.
A rematch against Frank Bruno, who had been probably the only other man, along with Tony Tucker. to stand his ground and fight against a prime Mike was now on the cards. It was to be for the WBC title. This was not to be anything like the first fight which really gained Bruno status as a top class fighter, most noticeably in a fantastic first round when Bruno was put onto the canvas within fifteen seconds only to come back and rock Tyson.
Big Frank seemed almost scared, with multiple warnings from referee Mills Lane before Tyson stopped and finished the fight with a barrage of punches in the third round. After the capture of his WBC title he then easily beat a scared to death Bruce Seldon in the first. It was now time for Tyson's post-prison invincibility bubble to burst.
Evander Holyfield came into his fight with Tyson given no chance after losing twice to Riddick Bowe and also the undefeated Michael Moorer. The fight was a war, with the early rounds being fairly close and lot of clinching taking place. It was clear this was not going to be an easy win for Tyson. However, he did rock Holyfield in his best flurry of the night in the fifth with his famous left hook to the body and then sweeping up the middle with an uppercut, in which "The Real Deal" was visibly staggered.
At the start of the sixth, it seemed the view of the fight, through commentator's eyes at least, was that Tyson would now go on beat Holyfield with the body shots really starting to take effect, as it was Evander who was known to have stamina issues and not Mike. The curse of the commentator was once again triggered as Tyson was floored whilst off balance. From this point it was all Evander, and after the bout was nearly being stopped in the tenth, referee Lane stepped in to end things a minute into the first of the championship rounds.
The rematch, dubbed beforehand as "The Sound and The Fury" and afterward as "The Bite Fight" was even bigger than the first, with Tyson's purse thought to be around $30 million and the champion's at $35 million.
Once more, very much in Iron Mike fashion, the rematch was anything but what was expected. The first two rounds were very similar to their first meeting, but unfortunately, that's about as far as it got, and we all know what happened from there.
After "biting an ear, banned for a year" , Iron Mike came back to put together an unbeaten run of 6 fights, 4 wins and 2 no contests. The calibre of opponents, while not bad, were not champion level by any means, however Tyson, with the fear he may never get another shot still signed to fight Lennox Lewis for the heavyweight championship in 2002.
Billed basically as the fight that came years too late, many boxing experts were divided as to who would be the victor, however the general assumption was that this was a good time for Lewis to take the fight, as Danny Williams remarked, "Tyson would have wiped the floor with Lewis had it been 12 years earlier."
Despite being the older of the two men, Lewis, after a very cautious first round, really took over the fight and dominated until knocking Tyson out in the eighth round.
We all know where the career of Mike Tyson went from there.