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By Simon Harrison
So after 19 years ‘Iron’ Mike finally has decided to hang up his gloves. We all know that he has pretty much been in semi-retirement for the last 3 years, but I think the death of his manager Bill Cayton was the final straw.
But what a career! Tyson leaves us with a 64 fight career record with 59 wins, 47 KO’s, just the 4 defeats and that controversial draw with Holyfield.
And like Ali and Frazier will be forever linked so will Tyson and Holyfield after their 4 epic battles.
Now we all know about Tyson’s career in the 80’s the glorious run he went on, as he built up a 37-0(33) record, but it is the 90s that I want to focus on.
And the events of February 1990 should not be forgotten; they arguable saved his career and maybe even his life. After getting knockdown while sparring with Greg Page as he prepared for a defence of his title against ‘Buster’ Douglas, Tyson pulled out of the fight, and checked into a clinic suffering from depression. Over the next couple of months it became known that Tyson had seen the light so to speak, patches it up with Cayton and rehired Kevin Rooney. And although he admits it himself that he sometimes struggles to keep control of things in his life, there haven’t ever been a repeat of the events that haunted his career in the late 80s.
So on June 16 1990, Tyson had his first fight of the decade the rescheduled defence against Douglas. And although it took him a couple of rounds to get going (he had not fought for 11 months), Douglas eventually started to get worked over, hitting the deck twice in the fourth and retiring in his corner at the end of the round.
Then came the first, and I believe best bout of the Holyfield series. Two unbeaten warriors; at or near their peaks. What people tend to forget is that Tyson was a massive favourite and people really did underestimate Holyfield. But what a bout, Holyfield rising from the deck in the first 30 seconds, to gradually get into the bout, putting Tyson down for the first time in his career in the 11th. But a great last round rally securing the close but unanimous decision in favour of Mike.
Next up was George Foreman in April 91, and to be fare big George did not let the over 40’s down as he braved the bombs of iron mike for 12 quite competitive rounds, before dropping the decision.
Tyson needed something a bit easier, it his hands were getting sore battering the rock hard chins of Foreman and Holyfield. So he met the big hitting, but soft chinned Jamaican/Canadian ‘Razor’ Ruddock. And although maybe not at his sharpest, Tyson wore down Ruddock eventually stopping Ruddock in the sixth.
He rounded the year off; with a mark time one round blow out of Alex Stewart.
Next up was the second bout with Holyfield in June 92. Tyson started slowly as Holyfield remembered the error he had made in the first Tyson bout, and the fact Tyson had, had only one round of action in 11 months may have hurt him. But gradually in a reverse of roles from the first bout Tyson got back into it. But the bout was not quite as explosive as the first bout, until the tenth, when an increasingly desperate Tyson, finally seemingly broke Holyfield’s will, knocking down with a sickening combination, reminisant of the Tyson/Thomas finish. But this is were Holyfield legend began, as he came out in the 11th seemingly stronger that a weary Tyson, and got the better of the last 2 rounds, to win a controversial Split decision that finished Tyson’s unbeaten record at 42.
Tyson came back in October 1992, against ‘The Duke’ Tommy Morrison. And what we saw, was a more focused dedicated Tyson, put in an excellent performance overwhelming Morrison in the 3rd. Tyson followed this up by winning every round against the granite jawed Olympic Champ Ray Mercer in February 93. And Tyson followed this up by destroying streaking contender Alex Garcia in around in May of that year.
And so Tyson got a shot at the title he had lost. He would fight Holyfield’s conqueror, and fellow New Yorker Ridddick Bowe. For the first time in his career Tyson came in a fight as the underdog. But what we got was a Tyson at his bobbing and weaving best. But although Tyson was firing on all cylinders, Bowe was not going to give his title up without a fight. But gradually Tyson’s awesome uppercuts got to Bowe, and he seemed to be wilting, until that lunatic ’Fanman’ hit the ring. After the interruption, Bowe seemed to get back his focus and at the final bell, it seemed it could go either way. But Tyson became only the third man behind Ali and Patterson to regain the title when he was rewarded a split decision win.
His first defence was against unbeaten #1 contender Michael Moorer. Moorer seemed intimidated and more concerned with surviving, But Tyson gradually got to him, and Teddy Atlas threw in the towel half way though the 8th.
Then in December 94 he met old nemesis Holyfield, with the winner scheduled to fight for the unified title against Lennox Lewis conqueror Oliver McCall. We would later find out that Holyfield had some kind of heart condition going into this bout. So how he made it into the eighth against Tyson I will never know.
So in April 95 Tyson regains full control of the Heavyweight title as he bashes lumps out of McCall for 12 rounds.
Next came two mandatory defences. Bruno fell in 3 and a petrified Seldon in 1.
Then we got what we wanted Tyson/BoweII. Bowe had won and defended the WBOgue title while waiting for Tyson; he too had stopped Holyfield, but had to get of the floor to do it, in November 95. Bowe seemed to lack the fire he had in their first bout, and seemed content to go the distance, in what turned out t be a bit of a dud of a fight. Maybe with hindsight Bowe was finished after the first Tyson bout.
And so to the finale of The Tyson/Holyfield epic trilogy. In November 1996, Holyfield rolled back the years, giving one of his finest performances as he gave just as much as he took, as these to fine warriors let it all hang out for 12 epic rounds. The only thing that stunk was the decision, Holyfield undoubtly had the better of it, but the judges, scored it a draw.
There was only really one fight left for Tyson; a bout with Lennox Lewis. Lewis had rebounded well from the shock defeat to McCall, but had never met anyone like Tyson. But Lewis gave a career best performance as he executed the Steward plan to perfection, staying out of the way using his ram rod jab, but still firing the right when it was necessary. Tyson bob and weaved all night, he would not give up, but with the exception of the odd booming right, Lewis controlled the bout winning a comfortable decision.
But if you thought Tyson was finished you would have been wrong. Over the next two years Tyson became the ‘0’ destroyer, First up after the defeat to Lewis, Tyson met ‘Mr President’ Mad Ike Ikebechi. And although Ikebechi stood up to every Tyson punch, Tyson’s greater variety and work rate gave him the decision. Ditto in his next bout against unbeaten Soaman slugger David Tua. Then Tyson scored his first stoppage win for 2 and half years against the then unbeaten Hasim Rahman. Before blowing out the then #1 contender Michael Grant in 2.
Mike had a fight in South Africa against Frans Botha (KO4), while he waited for his tile shot, which came in April 2000 against Lewis. Age had seemingly caught up with Mike as Kevin Rooney refused to let Tyson out for the 12th and final round.
Tyson seemed to be flirting with retirement, but his name was mentioned as a possible Rahman opponent after his massive upset of Lewis. But instead Tyson went to Germany and dropped a 12 round decision to Vlad Klitischko in August 2001. Then came the one round blow out of Etienne in March 2002 and the second round win of Lamar Brewster in February of this year hopefully the last time we will, see him in the ring.
I will put him in history up there with Ali and Louis he truly was one of the great ones, he had it all. But just imagine if he had continued his path of self destruction that he had started in the late 80s. Maybe he would of bit someone’s ear off! Maybe he would have lost to Douglas!!! I know; now I am being stupid.
16/6/90 Douglas TKO4 (World Title Defence)
25/10/90 Holyfield WU12 (World Title Defence)
19/4/91 Foreman WU12 (World Title Defence)
26/7/91 Ruddock TKO6 (World Title Defence)
23/11/91 Stewart KO1 (World Title Defence)
19/6/92 Holyfield LS12 (Lost World Title)
31/10/92 Morrison KO3
6/2/93 Mercer WU10
22/5/93 Garcia KO1
6/11/93 Bowe WS12 (Won WBA/IBF Titles)
22/4/94 Moorer TKO8 (Defence of WBA/IBF Titles)
3/12/94 Holyfield TKO8 (Defence of WBA/IBF Titles)
8/4/95 McCall WU12 (Defence of WBA/IBF Titles; Wins WBC Title)
2/9/95 Bruno TKO3 (World Title Defence)
16/3/96 Seldon KO1 (World Title Defence)
11/7/96 Bowe WU12 (World Title Defence)
9/11/96 Holyfield DM12 (World Title Defence)
28/6/97 Lewis LU12 (Loses World Title)
8/11/97 Ikebechi WU10
9/7/98 Tua WU10
19/12/98 Rahman KO5
19/6/99 Grant KO2
19/11/99 Botha KO4
29/4/00 Lewis LTKO12 (For World Title)
4/8/01 Klitischko LU12
16/3/02 Etienne KO1
22/2/03 Brewster KO2
14/10/03 Announces retirement with a 59-4-1 (47) Record.
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