Tyson: The flame has burned out
By Gary Pino (June 13, 2005) 
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Today is a very depressing day for me and my generation of friends who graduated together and enjoyed the sport of boxing on every Saturday night when an HBO telecast was on we would all call them ‘Tyson fight nights’. Even before HBO when ESPN was covering Tyson, we were mesmerized by this ‘kid’ Mike Tyson being so far ahead of his time. Mike made boxing fun for us, and I will miss the good ole days for sure. But a stark reality happened to all of us who once again gathered together to watch last night’s PPV event, a reality of father time hit all of us after last nights fight. I am 37 with 2 kids, and most of my once single friends from our graduating class of 1986 now have grey hair and kids. The year we graduated ‘Kid Dynamite’ Mike Tyson was crowned ‘the youngest ever’ heavyweight champion of the world.

Mike Tyson was way ahead of his time. He was the boy king of boxing at 20 years of age and had more money at the time than Bill Gates. There’s no doubt his abilities were so advanced for a fighter his age, that experts refused grant him a place in boxing history. I can go on record and say, I never seen anyone in his prime as masterful and precise at his craft than Tyson. After last nights ‘final chapter’ loss to Kevin McBride, today’s articles of “he was a better quitter than hitter” irked me. This is what the press wanted. They wanted to see Tyson go down years ago because they know that fight fans around the world always perceived Mike as one of the top fighters of all time. Even as the gracious Tyson spoke at the press conference after the fight, the press was prodding him and egging him on with the questions they asked. They wanted to see Tyson explode as they wanted one more train wreck to write about. It wasn’t in their script for Mike to be gracious and thank everyone who watched him and supported him over his career. But it’s what Tyson didn’t do that must have ticked off the press?

It’s been years now since Tyson was interested in boxing. It’s something that because of all of his pitfalls and nightlife that pushed Tyson back into the ring for just another payday. I have had the honor of seeing great fighters careers end in my era and I feel that Tyson’s exit from boxing was not a disgrace. But Jeff Fenech must have known it was time. I knew Tyson didn’t want to be there after the first round. There were times I saw openings and knowing Tyson the way I do, it seemed like Mike forgot how to fight or just couldn’t pull the trigger anymore? When he let his hands go, even the critics could see the crisp quick punches from the past. Mike Tyson was the best finisher in history and when he had Danny Williams hurt, he didn’t get it done and the same for McBride. He just wasn’t sure what to do.

Many forget Ali quit on his stool in his final two fights against Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick. Quitting because you just don’t have it anymore in this sport is difficult and admitting it publicly is even more difficult. Roberto Duran’s famous “no mas” fight is a prime example Mike did the right thing. Just as Sugar Ray Leonard after the Norris fight, Walcott after the Marciano fight, just called it a career. I am not going to remember the old Mike Tyson but the one who captivated the world with his skill. Tyson is not a quitter. People want to forget the Douglas fight, or the Ruddock wars, and the first Holyfield fight, which were wars that were fought until the very end. Even in his recent bouts, especially with Lennox Lewis, Tyson fought to the very end. I am not going to buy into the ghouls who were hoping to have more to write about and wanted an implosion of a former two-time champion at the press conference last night. It’s not fun for them anymore that maybe the guy has priorities now as a father and would like to be able to become a decent human being who wants to live in society without the writers from the NY Daily News (one especially) waiting for a Tyson bomb to go off. The only writers who have given Mike Tyson respect throughout his career are Jerry Izenberg and Jack Neufeld.

I am happy for the thrills Michael Gerald Tyson has given me as a boxing fan.

I am sad to see it end this way, but it’s now 2005 and it had to end sooner or later. The small flame that Cus D’Amato turned into a roaring blaze has gone out the door long ago with Robin Givens and Ruth Roper. Somehow there is something inside of me that thinks some promoter would try and get a Tyson vs. Holyfield III? Why not! Both are shot fighters at this stage, and I am pretty sure somehow PPV sales would skyrocket especially if it was promoted right.

If this is the end, I want to thank Mike for all the great fight nights, for rescuing the sport of boxing when it was stale and needed a colorful personality to carry it after the Larry Holmes era. No other fighter will come along anytime soon and create highlight reels the way Mike Tyson has. The last 15 years my fight nights always started with 2 hours of Tyson highlights and they will continue to be shown because if you’re a fan of boxing, love him or hate him, he was special.

With the way Mike graciously ended his career on Saturday night, I am sure Teddy Atlas will find something negative to say about Mike. He is never at a loss for words when it comes to Tyson so as a fan and historian I expect very little class from Teddy. The first trainer in camp Tyson who was fired by the legendary D’Amato in the mid 80’s refuses to let that go because in his mind he gets no credit, nor has he been able to cash in on the fame that he feels eluded him. He should be happy in that he wouldn’t be on TV today had it not been for Mike Tyson. It seems Atlas started appearing on TV after Tyson lost to Douglas in Tokyo in 1990… I wonder if he still carries that hand gun.
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