It was the end of an era on Saturday night when unheralded Irishman Kevin McBride vanquished the ghost of Mike Tyson when the former “Baddest Man on the Planet” refused to come out for the seventh round.
Photo © Tom Casino/SHOWTIME
Despite the usual pre-fight hullabaloo about Tyson being in his best shape for years, it was apparent from the second round on that the 38-year-old former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world was nothing more than a shadow of his former self.
McBride entered the ring wearing a hooded green and purple tartan robe to the sound of wailing bagpipes and a murmur of boos. By contrast Tyson made a quick entrance to the ring, trailed by fellow Brooklynite and undisputed welterweight champion Zab Judah.
McBride, who enjoyed a 38 pound weight advantage, set the tone early by boxing effectively from the outside in the opening round and tying up the 7 inch shorter Tyson on the inside. In the second Tyson came out firing, but it had little to no affect on ‘The Clones Colossus’, who worked well in the clinches with right hook and uppercuts that appeared to disturb Tyson.
Tyson tried to pick up the pace, assaulting McBride to the body with both hands. The digging body shots seemed to take a toll on McBride, who continued to engage the charging Tyson in clinches and worked him over on the inside. In the third Tyson tried to up the tempo, but McBride refused to be intimidated and kept Tyson either on the end of his jab or tied him up when he got in close.
At the bell to start the fourth Tyson landed a big right hand before returning to the body. But McBride remained composed and weathered the storm, landing some good shots of his own despite being in survival mode.
Tyson came out hard to start the fifth, but McBride refused to budge. By the middle of the round Tyson was only fighting in spurts, working his way inside but not throwing much leather. A big uppercut from McBride caught Tyson on the chin and by the end of the round he was hammering Tyson on the ropes with heavy-handed uppercuts and hooks.
By the time the bell rang to start the sixth Tyson knew that he only had one last chance. Brawling out of desperation, Tyson had some measure of success but the tougher than expected McBride gave it back in spades. Midway through the round McBride had Tyson trapped on the ropes when the former Cus D’Amato protégé lost a point for reckless use of his head. Tyson’s frustration was obvious, as was his fatigue, but McBride remained nonplussed by the trickle of blood that flowed from a busted left brow.
McBride continued to work well on the inside with short hooks and uppercuts while Tyson was pinned to the ropes. About ten seconds from the bell to end the sixth round, Tyson was pushed to the canvas. In what was clearly a portent of things to come, Tyson showed no desire to get up. When he wandered back to his stool it was obvious he had very little left.
Between rounds Tyson newest trainer Jeff Fenech called a halt to the action with Tyson slumped on his stool. After the fight Tyson indicated that he would be retiring from the fight game.
On the undercard Laila Ali dispatched Erin Toughill in the third round of a scheduled ten. Toughill dictated the action for the first minute and a half of the opening stanza, backing up Ali and landing some good right hands and left hooks. But the daughter of ‘The Greatest’ flurried late in the 2-minute round to score well and make it close.
Ali upped the ante in the second round, boxing when she wanted to and brawling at will. There was some good toe-to-toe action in this round, with Ali getting the better of the defensively challenged Toughill and bloodying her nose in the process.
In the third Ali went back to boxing form the outside, picking off Toughill with straight right hands every time she came forward. With twenty seconds to go Ali started to offload a barrage of punches on an injured Toughill, who backed up to the ropes with her gloves raised high. Unfortunately for Toughill her defensive was porous enough to allow Ali’s heavy punches to leak through and with just one second remaining in the round referee Joseph Cooper called a halt to the action.
The stoppage was a judicious one, with the blood-smeared Toughill turning her back to Ali and all but quitting. With the win Ali becomes the first ever WBC women’s champion.
Former WBA junior welterweight champion Sharmba Mitchell made a successful jump to the welterweight division with a technical decision over Chris Smith. The bout was stopped early after a clash of heads opened up a pair of cuts above and below Mitchell’s left eyes and rendered him unable to continue.
Mitchell controlled the action form the opening bell, using handspeed, footwork and angles to get the better of his opponent. At times Mitchell chose to mix it up with Smith and for the most part got the better of the exchanges.
In the fifth Smith threw a left hook, right cross combination and clashed heads with the southpaw Mitchell. The cut beneath his left eye was one of the more severe lacerations you are likely to see in a fight and the ringside physician erred on the side of caution by recommended to the referee that the fight be stopped.
Scorecards at the time of the stoppage were 48-47, 49-46 and 50-45, all in favour of Mitchell.
Also on the card Hussein Hussein scored a workman-like decision over Evaristo Primero by scores of 96-94 twice and 97-93.
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