Tarver vs Tyson makes sense
By Gary Pino (November 21, 2005) 
Antonio Tarver
Historically this fight or the potential for one between two high profile fighters at different stages of their career would make for an awesome night at the fights. Not too mention us fans would all buy and make one heck of a Saturday night. Something the heavyweight division desperately needs at this point. I am going to try and break this down without adding a political black eye to this stunning development.

First off Mike Tyson is way past what he was at his best in the late 80’s. Unlike older heavyweight fighters who become fat and out of shape, Tyson looks great at 38. And if he fought Tarver he probably would need to come in smaller than he has in his last two comeback attempts because a smaller Tyson is more effective. One thing Tyson hasn’t lost is his chin and hand speed. Not too mention tremendous knockout power, which is usually the last thing a puncher loses!

In fact I think a fight like this may actually motivate Mike. I am 100% positive Tyson went through the motions against Williams and McBride. Financially, he needed those fights, and given the quality of opponent, he probably felt he could win just by showing up. Basically you had a guy who really wasn’t interested in becoming champ again, just a fighter wanting a quick payday.

Sure this fight would gross a ton of revenue, but Tyson has caught a lot of flack from his last two showings. And I wasn’t sure that a guy like Tyson, who maybe knows more about the history of this sport, would want to go out the way he did, so fighting Tarver makes sense. He is the smallest fighter Tyson has faced since Clifford ‘The Black Rhino’ Etienne (whom was knocked out in 90 seconds of round 1 a few years ago). Historically Tyson has had trouble with big heavyweights with height and reach advantages.

I kind of know why the Tarver camp is entertaining this fight. This whole Tyson thing was started by Roy Jones two years ago, when he and Tyson were close to signing a deal. But Jones started making insurance demands and purse promises in case he was permanently injured. Hence, both camps started to break away from talks and ultimately ended the Tyson vs. Jones match.

Now Tarver and Tyson really have nothing to lose in this fight if it takes place. Tyson is way past his prime but he has a puncher’s chance. Tarver is at the top of his game and say he gets caught with a shot, he will walk away still champion after his biggest payday ever! That’s right, projected numbers on this fight would surpass both his fights with Jones.

If Tyson was to win, it could change everything? The heavyweight division is so horrible; it would flip Tyson back into the mix in a hurry and thus ruin the Don King heavyweight party. It may also inspire the former two-time champ to get into the best shape he can and see what he can do back in the spotlight. As far as a trainer, some experts say they will not touch Tyson. But with the kind of money and rock star status involved – as Freddie Roach said in my interview with him for DHB, “It was cool, everywhere we went we had mobs of people” – there should be no shortage of people lining up for the job, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tyson went back to Roach, because Mike actually looked good while under Roach. He was disciplined and paced himself. He should have finished off Williams, but that’s water under the bridge.

To fall back on a tried and true cliché, styles make fights. Tarver is a lanky southpaw who probably is a better fighter than he shows. Antonio fights way too cautiously and appears afraid to get hit. In his fights with Jones he showed Roy way too much respect, and probably could have gone right through the former pound-for-pound kingpin. But Tarver is not a risk taker and he certainly will not take a chance swapping punches with Tyson. Actually I would pick Tyson only if he is in shape and motivated. I could see maybe even a boring fight, with Tyson walking around the ring trying to catch Tarver. Tarver will want to survive, but he will also want do something that would take him out of the shadow of Roy Jones!

Remember this, for those may think Tyson will have no chance because he is old and a shell of his former self. I remember a 38-year-old Larry Holmes surviving four rounds with the then boy king of boxing Mike Tyson. Considering that Holmes didn’t really train, he did pretty well and before he was knocked into tomorrow, he was landing on Tyson. Remember, the great Cus D’Amato once said “On any night a shot old fighter can put it all together for one last time”. So let’s try and embrace this and get it to happen. The sport needs it, as much as the Tyson haters perish the thought. Yes, “Once again, the sport of boxing needs Mike Tyson”.
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