First of all, you may not love Mike Tyson, okay, but it would be hard to say you don’t love greatness. I think a part of all of us wants to see greatness in action, especially in sports. We are inspired by guys like Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Muhammad Ali, they move us to achieve more and be better. Ask any child who they have on the poster on their wall and why it is there. I have no doubt that Mike Tyson was in that league. There has never been a heavyweight that has wowed us and had us on the edge of our seats like Iron Mike. At his best we saw lightning speed, devastating power, skilled defense, and a guy who wanted to fight and win every second of every round. He was young, the youngest champion of all time, with endless promise to become the greatest heavyweight in history.
Yet we weren’t ready for that, no one was, to see Tyson fall from such heights and never get him back. It happened too fast and too soon, many people felt his pain, whether they admit it or not. Watching him lose to Douglas is a punishment for most boxing fans. You may be a Holyfield fan, a Lewis fan or just a Tyson hater, I even remember my coach saying with a smile that “Buster Douglas yelled his butt”. Some people hate Tyson, for whatever reason. As an analogy, take a look at Usain Bolt, do you really want to see him go to prison for three years and then come out and never again be able to run under 10 in the 100 meters? It seems a lot of people wanted something like that for Tyson.
Holyfield and Lewis were great fighters, but they weren’t Mike Tyson, they weren’t electric, they didn’t have the same trajectory destined for greatness. My question is, was Tyson’s best better than Douglas’s best, Holyfield’s best, or Lewis’s best? My answer to that is a definite YES! And if you’re a Tyson fan, it’s not just that he lost or how he lost that is the hardest part, it’s that what captured and inspired us is gone without replacement. We missed out on greatness and all boxing fans lost because of it, whether they were Tyson fans or not.
In my opinion, Tyson was in his prime for the Spinks fight, and after that he was never fully himself again. Was it his downfall due to the death of Cus D’amato years before? Or the death of his manager and close friend Jim Jacobs? Was it because of Robyn Givens, the crazy Don King, or because of leaving with his trainer Kevin Rooney? Was it because he went to jail? The answer to all of those is another definitive yes. Ultimately though, and I hate to say it, Mike Tyson’s downfall was due to Mike Tyson. He made his own decisions and took care of things the best way he knew how, and as far as becoming the best, those decisions were sadly not enough. We had expectations for Mike Tyson, he was supposed to meet them for us, he was supposed to become the greatest heavyweight of all time so we could be entertained and inspired. That is a heavy load for anyone to carry.
I read a lot of comments on YouTube and on the net about why Tyson lost, we can talk about Holyfield’s headbutts, or Tyson’s coaches and life at the time, etc., but we must get away from that debate, because it is almost a loss of breath. The best Tyson was gone and there was no glory for Holyfield or Lewis in beating the Tyson who appeared on those nights. We all know he wasn’t an excellent Tyson, the guy who wowed us. These other heavyweights weren’t the inspiration everyone was looking for, they could never replace the Tyson we all knew existed, even if it was gone.