Mike Tyson: Twenty years of ‘Iron’ Mike – 1996-2000
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (March 21, 2005) Part 1 and Part 2  
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
Tyson mania, Tyson fever, Tyson fanatics Tyson bashers, Tyson Tyson Tyson! Love him or hate him, he is forever engraved in the boxing minds of the world forever, for good or bad for worse the name rings out like a wind chime in a windy day. The boxing world had already seen this boy become a man, the man become a champion, the champion become invincible, the invincibility dethroned, incarcerated, broken down, returned and now on the road to redemption.

Would he find it?

The former undisputed heavyweight champ was back on track, disposing of two highly overmatched opponents on his return to the ring. Tyson was ready to feast on WBC heavyweight champion Frank Bruno, who won the title via decision from Oliver McCall six months earlier. When Tyson was the undisputed king he made fast work of Bruno in 1989 and in the rematch he would produce a much faster victory stopping the Brit in three rounds in front of the MGM Grand crowd in Las Vegas to strap on the exact belt he hoisted almost ten years prior. Yes, Tyson found redemption, he was once again on top of the food chain… or was he? After manhandling another overmatched opponent in Bruce Seldon and quickly earning the WBA portion of the titles, he was stripped by the WBC for not facing the mandatory Lennox Lewis in the entire process and the showdown was about to begin.


This was it, the big showdown, the match-up all have talked about, Evander Holyfield versus Mike Tyson for Tyson’s WBA heavyweight title. One of the biggest pay-per-view mega bashes of its time with 1.6 million PPV buys; it was on! The two faced off in the ring and it was going down when Tyson landed a power shot in the opening seconds of round one. It would appear the blown up cruiserweight would be dismantled by Tyson’s destructive power but it was only the beginning of the end for Tyson. Holyfield outsmarted, overworked and destructed the ‘Iron’ one, at the surprise of his opponent and all who witnessed the bout. Tyson tasted the canvas in the sixth round and in the eleventh was done and dusted. Yet again the champion was dethroned, destructed and defeated. Tyson again was on the wrong side of Ring magazine’s ‘Upset of the Year’, also voted ‘Fight of the Year 1996’ by the same publication.

The walk of shame

After suffering defeat seven months earlier at the hands of the ‘Giant Killer’ Evander Holyfield, Tyson set out to get revenge. Tyson was sure that this time would be different and he would prove to be the victor and get the W he was previously denied. Well this is boxing and as they say, “the best laid plans of mice and men…” In one of the most shameful acts to ever take place in a prizefighting ring – and a moment that would be frozen in history forever – what was about to unfold in front of the boxing world sparked one of the biggest bites in history! A frustrated Tyson bit the ear of Holyfield not once but twice, causing his disqualification in the third round and a humungous riot by the crowd on hand. Not only giving a black eye to the boxing world as a whole, but Tyson was labeled a crazed lunatic and was later suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission along with suffering a financial blow to the tune of a three million dollar fine. The NSAC made no bones about it, calling Tyson “a discredit to boxing”.

Tyson returns again!

After his suspension was lifted a rejuvenated Tyson was set to return to the ring January 1999 against South African Frans Botha at the same place the shameful act occurred against Holyfield over a year and half earlier. The bell sounded and everyone at the venue were on the edge of their seats to see if the cannibalistic side of Tyson would protrude once more. Unfortunately for the bloodthirsty throng it didn’t eventuate, but at the end of the first round the crowd erupted when Tyson wouldn’t let go of Botha’s arm in what seemed to be an attempt to callously break it. Tyson showed signs of his ring rust with Botha landing at will at times but in the fifth the power of Tyson’s right hand floored Botha and Tyson again was victorious by KO. After a no-contest after Tyson hit Orlin Norris after the bell, a second round TKO of Julius Francis in England followed. Tyson was then set to face 6’5” Houston homeboy Lou Savarese, but it wasn’t the fight that was noteworthy unless you count knocking the ref down in an attempt to continue punishment to his defeated opposition after thirty-eight seconds of round one. No, it was his mouth that gained him recognition for that night calling out heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and spewing out the infamous words “My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I’m just furious! I want your heart I want to eat your children!”

Tyson finished up 2000 with a bout against the 6’4” Polish fighter Andrew Golota, known as the ‘Foul Pole’ for his in the ring discretions and for having trouble with his mental stability. This would be an all out mental breakdown and dirty war, at least from Golota’s perspective. Tyson’s power and intimidation ruled the night of October 2000. Golota wanted no more of the punishment Tyson had administrated and at the start of the third round Golota would call it quits giving Tyson and easy three round TKO victory. But after testing positive for marijuana in a post drug test the ruling was changed to a no- contest.

Tyson went 5-2 with two no contests in the ’96-’00 era, he won a title, forfeited and lost a belt, defined shame, faced suspension, fines, controversy and much more, but the one thing Tyson still had intact was his name and the fans. Tyson, notorious, destructible, unpredictable, but most of all entertaining!

Stay tuned for 2001-2005
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