Published: August 12, 2004
THE “Iron” in Mike Tyson may have been clunked, chinked, turned brittle and malleable by life’s sad twists but still, no amount of punches could send this former undisputed heavyweight champion packing.
He may have lost terribly and miserably in a bizarre manner against a mere mortal who did what others should have done when they faced an ageing 38-year-old former legend but “Iron” Mike Tyson says he is not yet hanging any glove.
Moreover, he promises to come back later this year and finish a career on a high note, one that spans for almost two decades.
A win is a win is a win for Danny Williams who survived a whirlwind of an opening round last July 30. Luckily for Williams, Tyson may have beaten Tyson, himself, that fateful night after a powerful left hook delivered erratically created a fulcrum that injured his own left knee. With the injury, it was incredible enough that Tyson continued to fight gallantly in the next three rounds.
Like the ways of great warriors who have dodged punches all their lives, Tyson’s fight with Williams, a former British champion, could go down as one of Tyson’s horrors. Losses to Buster Douglas, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis have happened in different times and circumstances. Bankruptcy, many other court cases and jail time have also hardened Tyson in more ways than one.
For the next seven weeks, Tyson will be tied to a wheelchair, gather himself up and recuperate. Manager Shelly Finkel and trainer Freddie Roach believe Tyson can still make a great comeback and they have decided to support him all the way as soon as goes back to the ring and probably step into the sunset a winner.
A rematch with Williams is one possible fight waiting for Tyson, who unified the heavyweight division on August 1, 1987 as a 21-year-old, blasting the erstwhile unbeaten Tony Tucker.
“I believe Mike will beat Williams in a rematch,” said Roach, now back in his Wild Card gym home base in California. Roach commended Tyson for his fighting heart as he continued to fight despite the four cartilage tears that required arthroscopic surgery. “We need to get right back (in the gym) to improve on his conditioning,” said Roach. “His pace was just too fast, too early.” Roach believes sending Tyson back on top of the ring will not endanger him when ranged against younger fighters nor would he star in a freak show, with him receiving the shorter end of the stick. “He still has a lot of ability. I think there’s still a few good years left in Mike,” added Roach.
Tyson easily sparred six to eight rounds while on training at Finkel’s gym in Arizona and has put on more muscle and weight, tipping the scales at 233 pounds when he faced Williams, who weighed in at 255.
Roach would have wanted to see a more agile and mobile Tyson, sculpt him down to 225 in his next fight and create a more consistent attitude during training.
“There’s a huge difference between the old Tyson than the one who fought last month,” said Roach, aware that Tyson has to work harder in order to bring back some of the dangerous form and instincts in the man who once sowed fear and terror in the heavyweight division.
Tyson’s record fell to 50-5-2 and the loss was his first in a non-title fight. In his prime, Tyson would finish off a fighter of Williams’ caliber in less than two rounds.
In fact, when Tyson turned professional in 1985, he blitzed past 19 opponents in one year, averaging 1.95 rounds by knockout. Before losing to heavy underdog Douglas in 1990, Tyson was 37-0 and was already a myth.
Tyson earned about $8 million for the 57th fight of a pro career that began 19 years ago. He could only keep $2 million of it, with the rest going to pay off some of the $38 million he owes to creditors, under a bankruptcy reorganization plan.
Despite being inactive for quite a spell, Tyson has proven that he still draws the crowds, that he still possesses enough charisma, mystery and power and carry a pay-per-view fight. Or just in case he falters again in another comeback, he could start writing a book about his colorful life, from boxing god to mere mortal, which also promises to be a blockbuster!
By Winchell Campos