Published: March 14, 2005
By Jason Liimatta
Last summer as I sat down with friends to watch “Iron” Mike Tyson fight
for the first time in 17 months, I couldn’t help, but feel things were
finally looking up for the former undisputed heavyweight champion. His
financial advisors had put together a plan to get him out of bankruptcy
and a (4) four-fight deal from a major cable network worth over 100
million dollars was out on the table. Trainer Freddie Roach would
definitely have him ready to go, as his future both in and out of the
ring, hinged upon this fight. But then something totally unexpected
happened. Mike Tyson had to face an opponent that even he could not
overcome, his own body.
Tyson’s opponent in this fight was lightly regarded British heavyweight
Danny Williams, 31-3, 26 KO’s. Williams hadn’t fought anyone nearly the
caliber of “Iron Mike”, and 16 months earlier he was TKO’d in the sixth
round by Sinan Samil Sam. In the opinion of boxing experts everywhere,
he had two chances of defeating Tyson, slim and none. And slim was only
if “Iron Mike” didn’t show up for the fight.
From the opening bell, Tyson was his usual aggressive self and he
landed several times with both left hooks and body punches. He had the
good head movement that we’ve become accustomed to seeing for over the
last 20 years, and his jab was working beautifully. Williams was
clearly in trouble, and the round was barely half over. But near the
end of the round with Roach’s game plan working to perfection, Tyson’s
knee appeared to give out. He managed to finish the round, but
something clearly was wrong. He had done severe damage to his knee and
this hampered his performance for the rest of the fight. He still
managed to win the next two rounds, but Williams kept the pressure on
and managed to knock Tyson out in the fourth round with a barrage of
unanswered punches. Danny Williams had shocked the world.
By the next morning Tyson couldn’t walk, and shortly
thereafter, underwent surgery to repair the damage. Now that his body
is fixed, the question that needs to be answered is whether Mike
Tyson’s career can be also? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding
YES, and here is why.
Tyson is obviously never going to work a 9 to 5 job like you
or I. He has to utilize his skills as a fighter to pay off the enormous
debts that he has incurred, and after listening to him talk at recent
fights, he seems to be in the right mindset. He is still fundamentally
sound and in great shape even at his advanced age for a fighter. Had he
not hurt himself in the fight, Danny Williams may not have survived the
first round, and he surely would not have gotten through the second. He
is a C+ or B- level fighter who was badly exposed in his last fight
against Vitali Klitschko. And finally, Mike Tyson is still the most
marketable heavyweight in boxing regardless of the fact that he has
lost two of his last three fights.
Whether fans love him or hate him, they want to watch him and no other
heavyweight gets the boxing world buzzing like Tyson, certainly not
John Ruiz, Chris Byrd or Vitali Klitschko. Just take a close look at
the current state of the heavyweight division, and you’ll see there is
no reason why he could not come back and inflict some damage.
On June 20, 2005, “Iron” Mike Tyson is set to return to the ring
against the always dangerous TBA opponent. This fight is scheduled to
take place in our nations capital, Washington, D.C. A very fitting
place for him to begin a comeback of epic proportions, a comeback he
badly needs. He will almost certainly never return to being the
dominant fighter he was back in his heyday, but anything remotely close
is still awfully good.