Maybe Boxing Needs Mike Tyson

BY Rick Folstad ON June 21, 2004
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Maybe boxing’s next messiah is the crazy guy out in the Arizona desert who’s been quietly getting into shape these past few weeks, hoping to redefine himself one more time.

As of right now, former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson is scheduled to fight British heavyweight Danny Williams on July 30. The fight might be held in Louisville, Ky.

But it might not. Nothing about Tyson is certain.

He was originally scheduled to fight journeyman fighter Kevin McBride on July 30, but, apparently, Williams comes with a better resume and at a cheaper price. And money talks.

Either way - whether it’s McBride, Williams, Jones or Smith; whether it’s in Louisville, Trenton, Las Vegas or Poughkeepsie - Tyson is just looking for a fight to kind of ease his way back into the game after a 16-month layoff.

That’s because he knows the heavyweight title is there for him to take. All he needs to do is find a little of the past that used to make him the most feared fighter on the planet. He doesn’t need much, just a touch of the old hook that rattled buildings, stalled cars and ended things early.

If he finds the hook and the mental toughness and some of the fire he had 15 years ago, he could again move to the top of boxing’s leaderboard. That’s because the fight game goes as the heavyweight division goes, and for too long, the weight class has been more of a comedy skit than a Broadway hit, more Jerry Lewis than John Wayne.

No heavyweight contender or champion has stood up, grabbed the division and claimed it for his own. Instead, it’s as though the crown has been farmed out to the highest bidders, titles by committee, a round-robin tournament still waiting to name a true champion.

Think the guy who changes your oil can name all four heavyweight champs? Think he can name one?

But he sure knows who Mike Tyson is. So does your wife’s hairdresser, the teller at your bank, the grocery-store clerk and your 84-year-old grandmother.

They still remember him, even though Tyson hasn’t held a heavyweight title in almost eight years, and hasn’t beaten anyone we might still remember in 13 years. In his last 10 fights, he’s won five, lost three and was involved in two fights that were ruled no-contests.

In his title fight with then-champion Lennox Lewis back in June 2002, he was stopped in the eighth round and later admitted he never wanted to share a ring with Lewis again.

But hey, it’s Mike Tyson we’re talking about, the king of tragedy and surprise. If he’s willing to try again, we’ll pay to watch, especially with Lewis retired and none of the present champions showing us anything worth writing down.

While the division has slipped into a deep sleep, Tyson has been tinkering in the background, hoping to show off a few more times before he becomes another Evander Holyfield.

It’s sad, but if Tyson really wants to fight again, we’ll pack the joint to welcome him back, even with his fading skills and his ugly table manners. That’s just part of our nature. We’re fascinated with evil beasts, even old ones.

Tyson could be the guy to bring the fight game back to life, a, moody, brutal, unlikely savior dressed in black with a history of bad times.

Still, it’d be nice to have him back.

And maybe that’s the scariest thing of all.

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