Boxing


Someone Who's Pulling For Tyson

30.07.04 - By Frank Lotierzo - GlovedFist@Juno.com - Tonight former Heavyweight Champ Mike Tyson will fight for only the second time in the last 25 months. Last month Tyson turned 38 and filed for Bankruptcy reorganization. Since turning pro in 1985 Tyson has gone through what has been estimated at almost 400 Million dollars. In that time he became the youngest Heavyweight Champ in history, and a few short years later became the youngest ex-Champ in history. In the process of all that, Tyson became the most well known fighter since Muhammad Ali and was a major box office PPV attraction.

It seems almost as if Tyson has come full circle. Since losing his WBA/WBC title to Evander Holyfield in November of 1996, Tyson has fought 9 times going 5-2 with 2 NC. When Tyson steps into the ring to fight British Heavyweight Danny Williams on July 30th, it will no doubt mark the beginning of what is surely his last chance to redeem himself.

It's hard to believe that Tyson hasn't held a piece of the title for over eight years. No doubt if Tyson is to have a chance to possibly regain the title and straighten out his finances, he will have to dedicate himself more so than he ever has in his life both mentally and physically. Somehow I think the real challenge for him won't really begin until after the Williams fight.

As a 19 year old coming up Mike Tyson was the Boxing darling of both the fans and the media. He was popular and respected and was someone who was easy to root for. Then suddenly in March of 1988 it started to come apart. That's when his mentor and big brother figure Jimmy Jacobs succumbed to leukemia. After Jacobs passing, Tyson was pulled in every direction possible. Sometimes he was guided down the right path and other times he was taken down the wrong path. The net result is at 38, Tyson is a reported 30 plus million dollars in debt, and has to fight for money and to restore some of the respect and dignity his career once had.

I'll bet if you were asked on the way out of the Atlantic City Convention Center on the night of June 27th 1988, the night he stopped Michael Spinks in the first round, where do you see the then 21 year old Tyson when he is 38? I haven't a doubt in my mind that an overwhelming majority would've said something on the line of, Tyson will be retired having earned more money than any other fighter in history, with a solid legacy intact that will endure the test of time. Sadly, that is not the way it turned out.

Throughout the Boxing career of Mike Tyson, I Frank Lotierzo have been one of the toughest and most consistent critics of Tyson the fighter. During that time I never took the personal and non Boxing related issues into account, I evaluated him strictly as a fighter. The fact that I've said since 1986 that Tyson was overrated in his prime and not one of the top ten greatest Heavyweight Champs in history, many concluded that I didn't like him. That certainly was not the case, it's just my opinion. Believe me, I recognized Tyson's skill and ability as a fighter. If talent alone determined greatness, than Tyson was among the all-time greats. However, talent is only part of what makes a great fighter. My problem with Tyson is that he lacks in the character and mental toughness department, and when push comes to shove, he lacks the confidence that a great fighter needs to go to that next level where only the truly greats ascend too.

That being said, I must confess that I am really pulling hard for Tyson to achieve his goal this time. I'm assuming his goal is to capture the Heavyweight title for the third time. At least I hope it is, more so than him making money. Tyson must know that with the title comes big money, and Tyson with a title belt around his waist makes it worth more than it is around any other fighters waist.

The way I see it, Tyson was too great of a fighter for him to go out broke with a legacy that may be remembered more for it's recent setbacks than for it's triumphs. For a majority of his career, Tyson carried Boxing for better or worse. He set many attendance records and entertained us in many of his fights. On top of that he is an astute Boxing aficionado and respects the great Champions who came before him. Maybe it's me, but I have a soft spot for any athlete who knows and cares about the history of the sport that he is a part of and competes.

Maybe success came too fast and easy for Tyson when he first turned pro. It could be that he didn't fully appreciate what he had achieved or the talent he was blessed with. Hopefully if he is successful in his final drive to the title, he'll relish and respect it more. Tyson was Boxings Flagship fighter for such a long time, I don't want to see him broke and beaten up when his time is over. However, if that's the way it turns out, he has no one else to blame but himself. Tyson is a person who has had more chances and excuses made for him than anyone I can recall off the top of my head.

On July 30th 2004, Tyson starts on the long road back to possible career and fiscal redemption. Regaining the Heavyweight title for Tyson brings him full circle. Until he fights a couple times, no one will know for sure how far he can go or who he can or cannot beat. Many have their opinions on whether or not he'll make it. Going by his history over the last eight years, it doesn't look promising. Getting a shot at the title is not hard to envision. Winning it and becoming the best fighter in the division is another story. Personally, I don't think the latter is realistic, but I'm pulling for him.

Article posted on 30.07.2004



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