Tyson deserves some respect

13.06.05 - By Geoffrey Ciani: I dont have the guts to stay in this sport anymore. I do not want to disrespect the sport I love. Mike Tyson. These were the words spoken by the former "Baddest Man on the Planet" after suffering the sixth loss of his professional career. The end of an era has arrived. Mike Tyson is making his departure from boxing after quitting on his stool in between rounds against the unheralded journeyman, Kevin McBride. This ends the Tyson era...well, sort of.

The truth of the matter is, the man who became the youngest heavyweight champion in the sport's history hasn't been around in over a decade. In that sense, the era ended with his stunning upset loss to Buster Douglas in Tokyo, Japan over 15 years ago. Tyson hasn't been the same fighter who once stormed through the best the division had to offer since the late 80s which makes it easy to overlook his extraordinary achievements from the past.

It seems these days, many boxing pundits (and fans alike) are keen on going out of their way to belittle "Iron" Mike. Dragging his name & legacy through the mud seems to be a trendy endeavor these days. Is this any way to treat the man who was once the most exciting star in the history of the sport?

I was never a fan of Tyson's, but I remember watching his fights growing up, and I remember the seemingly invincible aura which surrounded this egnimatic figure. Anyone who was old enough to remember watching Tyson in his prime must remember the excitement he brought forth and the interest he helped generate in the sport that caused casual fans to tune in and pay attention. His performances were awe-inspiring. The ferocious combination of speed, strength, and agility was simply breathtaking. The man seemed to have it all: the elusive bobbing & weaving...using the jab to get inside...the work to the body...the vicious combinations...the incredible uppercut...the impeccable power in two hands...the cat-like reflexes...the overwhelming speed and dexterity.

Much of this is now forgotten. The version of Tyson who has been parading around for the past decade is not the same Tyson who took the division by storm in the late 1980s. It's easy to forget this; it's easy to belittle the fighter who once was, but no longer is. Like many boxers before him, Tyson hung around in the sport too long. As a result of a series of poor decision Tyson made outside the ring, he was forced to stay in the sport past his expiration date as an elite fighter. Had this not been the case, perhaps we wouldn't have been forced to witness the demise of an incredible specimen who was once known as "The Baddest Man on the Planet".

Tyson deserves some respect from his fellow fans. He was a truly unique character whose contributions towards the sport of boxing are often forgotten by fans. Those who are apt to belittle him for attempting to make a living during the late stages of his career -- when he was clearly past his best -- ought to take these contributions into consideration when contemplating his overall legacy and the impact he's had in the sport. Tyson may very well have been the most exciting boxer of all time.

Oftentimes, Tyson's behavior outside the ring is something which should surely never be condoned. However, since I consider boxing to be somewhat of an artform, I think fans of the sport should keep an old saying in mind: "Trust the art, not the artist." For better or worse, I'm glad I had the chance to watch him in his prime while growing up.

Is he a top ten heavyweight of all time? Probably not. But he will surely be remembered with the very best this sport has had to offer.

Article posted on 13.06.2005

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