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Mike Tyson, A Name that Still Matters
By KS Rangi (May 8, 2004) 
Mike Tyson
Mention Mike Tyson’s name to most hardcore boxing fans and they snicker. Yet mention Mike Tyson’s name to most mainstream sports fans and they ask “When, where, and how much?” Sadly for the former Tyson is still the biggest name in the game and as he himself eloquently and accurately pointed out before a match a few years back, he is the biggest thing in the history of the sport, maybe sport period.

It would stand to reason then that, even at his advanced age and, by his own standard of brilliance, dissipated skill level, his options are still endless. Here are three matches above all others that
(with the exception of De La Hoya/Hopkins) fans want to, if not need to for the mainstream relevance of the sport, see soon.

1. Tyson Vs Holyfield

Anyone who knows anything about Tyson/Holyfield II knows this was the biggest sporting event of the 90’s. It was Good versus Evil—and the best part of it was the public got to choose who was good and who was evil. It was that rare event that extends far beyond the realm of sport and into the way we choose to live of lives and what we believe in; a thought provoking place that only the ceilingless sport of boxing can take us. Plus the fact that it was a rematch of a fight that went totally off the Don King’s intended course made everyone totally and absolutely unsure of what to expect. Again the match delivered the unexpected when Tyson either defended himself against Holyfield’s headbutts that went back to the first fight, or he simply went wild after he realized he was overmatched. And again it was an opinion thing, but the point is that it had everyone talking and really that’s all that matters. Sure they’re both old now but memories die hard. Put this up for sale and it’s a guaranteed 2 million pay-per-views.

2. Tyson Vs Jones, JR.

Hands down it would be the greatest night in pay-per-view history. It would be the best natural middleweight ever showing the greatest courage in history, even though throughout his career he’s been accused of just the opposite. The fascination would be simple: speed Vs power. Of course this would never take place if Tyson still had his old speed, but the reality is that he doesn’t, not for more than a few rounds anyway. If Jones could stay clear of Tyson’s bombs early he would have a chance, and if he actually pulled it off then the only debate would be Jones or Ali. A far likelier scenario though would be a precise repeat of Tyson/Spinks, if for no other reason Jones’ strange penchance to go to the ropes. After his match with Antonio Tarver last fall Jones said it was either Tyson or retirement, but he obviously rethought things. Still, such a match would without question be the biggest sporting event since Tyson/Holyfield II seven years ago and could possibly net each $40 million when PPV sales are added up.

3. Tyson Vs Vitali Klitschko

Again interest would be massive enough for at least 2 million PPVs, especially because of the Holmes-Cooney-like racial dichotomy. As Corrie Sanders, exposed even in shameful defeat, all Klitschko really has going for him is his size. His chin is OK, but Sanders’s ignominious conditioning, and inability to throw more than one punch at a time, may have saved Vitali from meeting a fate similar to Wladimir’s a year earlier. Tyson won’t be so kind. His smell of fear is legendary, and like a shark, he has a taste for blood, something Klitschko would need to be careful of after his engagement with Lennox Lewis. It would be hard to imagine Tyson at some point not landing his combinations, and probably sooner rather than later. Plus the fact that Klitschko has the only belt that matters (not that any of them matter much at this point) would make for a special sight watching Tyson regain a title many never really remember him losing in the first place.

Those that feel special keeping boxing a niche sport, something that makes them feel bad in a “Fightclub” kind of way will continue to say Tyson is an embarrassment to the sport no matter what. The reality is that the embarrassment to the sport takes place every time today’s crop of crappy heavyweights step into the ring. Decisions like Byrd over Oquendo, and matches like Ruiz over Oquendo and Klitschko over Sanders make everyone wonder how long the sport’s glamour division can stay afloat.

Boxing’s beauty lies in its simplicity, the fact that everyone can see who is the best and who is the most aesthetically pleasing. His various distractions and problems aside, Tyson, for as long as he has been around, has fit that bill, especially in the public’s eye. The only thing better than Tyson returning stronger than ever could be Tyson returning stronger than ever to Las Vegas.
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