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Hall of Fame inductee Mike Tyson secures place in history

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Hall of Fame inductee Mike Tyson secures place in history

It is hard to believe the newest generation of boxing fans was not around to see a very prime “Iron” Mike Tyson’s reign of terror in the heavyweight back in the mid-to-late 1980s.  To say he was absolutely everything to the sport of boxing back then would not be saying nearly enough about the man and his accomplishments in the ring, so his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this past Tuesday says a great deal more than I or anyone else can ever put into words.

Nobody will ever be able to take this feat away from him, and he will forever live in spirit among the greatest fighters to ever live.  Like the name Ali, mentioning the name Tyson means not only a lot to just boxing fans.  He, like only a select few before him, completely transcended to sport to become a global pop icon so recognizable to common, everyday people, that his level of popularity could only be matched by the most elite of social, religious and political spheres.

He was all a heavyweight champion was supposed to be and then some.  Eraser-type power in both hands and tremendous upper body movement more than compensated for his short, 5ft. 10in. stature, and his fierce personality and projection of extreme confidence had most of his opponents psychologically defeated before the ink was even dry on the contract to fight.

It is hard to explain to anyone who didn’t live during the time of Mike Tyson in the sport of boxing, but he personified the dude you did not want to be locked in a room with or have to endure whatever this man would bring to bear in a dark alley somewhere; and for good reason, given he was known for robbing defenseless old ladies and drug houses as a pre-teen.  In other words, he was no joke from a very young age, learning he could use brute strength and intimidation to get whatever he wanted from a material standpoint.

But after it is all said and done, with all the knockouts and opponents crapping their trunks before and during fights with the man, a question worth asking is where does he stand among some of the better boxers of his own era?

Well, as good and entertaining as Mike Tyson was, not only during his prime but long afterwards, there were others worth mentioning.  Maybe they will never be as memorable as the dynamic kid we saw emerge about 25 years ago, but they were possibly better fighters when you look at the totality of their careers.

In particular, two men come to mind.  Number one and the most obvious is Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield who defeated Mike Tyson twice during the time span of 1996 to 1997.  Yes, Mike Tyson was past his prime by then, but so was Evander Holyfield.  Originally scheduled to face each other before Tyson was incarcerated on a rape conviction in 1991, we will never know what would have transpired during the respective fighters’ best years, so we have to live with what happened five-to-six years later.

Another man worth mentioning during the time Mike Tyson was still a major player in the sport was Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe.  From the same Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NY, as Mike Tyson, Bowe’s best years were while the youngest heavyweight champion in the history of the sport was still behind bars.

That being said, Bowe did fight Holyfield three times, winning two of the encounters and registering a knockout.  The one loss to Evander Holyfield was his only defeat in forty-five career bouts.  One is left to only imagine what would have happened if Bowe and Tyson ever did square off.

But that never did happen, and regardless, Mike Tyson accomplished enough during his career to be considered among the best ever without having ever defeated Evander Holyfield or having to face Riddick Bowe.  By contrast, he will not be remembered by what he didn’t accomplish because his conquests in the ring were too many to choose from, but for me it all came down to that memorable evening on June 27, 1988, when the man from Brownsville met Michael Spinks in Atlantic City, NJ, to finally determine who would claim the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.

It was Tyson answering the call at 1:31 of the first round via knockout, and that is how I like to remember him best.



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