First off, you might not love Mike Tyson, that’s fine, but it would be hard to say that you don’t love greatness. I think a part of all of us wants to see greatness in action, particularly 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 become better. Just ask any kid who they have on the poster on their wall and why he’s there. There is no question in my mind that Mike Tyson was in that league. There has never been a heavyweight that captivated us and had us on the edge of our seats like Iron Mike. In his prime we saw lightning speed, devastating power, slick defense, and a guy who wanted to fight and win every second of every round. He was young, the youngest champion ever, with endless promise to become the greatest heavyweight in history.
We weren’t ready for it though, nobody was, to see Tyson fall from such heights and never really get it back. It happened too fast and too early, a lot of 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 whooped his ass”. Some people are Tyson haters, 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 run a sub 10s in the 100m!? It seems like 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’ best, Holyfield’s best, or Lewis’ best? My answer to that is a definite YES! And if you are 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 was gone without replacement. We missed out on greatness and every boxing fan lost because of it, whether they were Tyson fans or not.
In my opinion, Tyson was at his peak for the Spinks fight, and after that he was never totally himself again. Was his downfall because of Cus D’amato dying years before? Or the death of his manager and close friend Jim Jacobs? Was it because of Robyn Givens, crazy ass Don King, or departing with his trainer Kevin Rooney? Was it because he went to prison? The answer to all those is another definite yes. Yet ultimately, and I hate to say it, the downfall of Mike Tyson was because of Mike Tyson. He made his own decisions and dealt with things the best way he knew how, and as far as becoming the greatest those decisions sadly didn’t amount to enough. We had expectations for Mike Tyson, he was supposed to fulfill them for us, he was supposed to become the greatest heavyweight ever so that we could be entertained and inspired. That’s a heavy burden for anyone to carry.
I read a ton of comments on YouTube and on the net about why Tyson lost, we can talk about the headbutts by Holyfield, or Tyson’s trainers and life at the time etc, but we need to step away from that debate, because it’s almost a waste of breath. The best Tyson was gone and there was no glory for Holyfield or Lewis in beating the Tyson that showed up on those nights. We all know it wasn’t a prime Tyson, the guy who captivated us. These other heavyweights weren’t the inspiration that everyone was looking for, they could never replace the Tyson that we all knew existed, even if he was gone.