Doghouse Doodles: Random Observations on Boxing
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Doghouse Doodles: Random Observations on Boxing
By Sean Newman, Doghouse Boxing (June 14, 2013)

The Bite Fight - George Willis - Mike Tyson - Evander Holyfield
(The Bite Fight - George Willis)
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I’m trying, folks. Really, I am. As I attempt to rekindle the flame that used to burn within me for the fight game, I have found that it is a slow process. It takes time to learn who the fighters are again after such a long respite. With a few notable exceptions (the obvious ones such as Klitschko(s), Mayweather, Pacquiao, Hopkins, etc. and whoever they happen to be fighting), I have largely ignored boxing over the past six years or so. In that span, quite a bit has happened. Boxing has lost even more ground in the mainstream United States, likely due to the fact that our domestic talent pool is shrinking. The game is now dominated either by fighters from outside the U.S. or those who immigrated here. Yeah, yeah, I know, at some point almost ALL of us immigrated here. STFU. That’s not what this is about. My point is, it’s a long row to hoe when many of the fighters’ names at the top of the rankings are unpronounceable. Meanwhile, I do have a few thoughts I’d like to share, and would love to hear from you all if you find any of this interesting or have a few facts to pass along yourselves. What to talk about first?

First let me say that I have not in any way been solicited to endorse the product I am about to advertise. I recently purchased a Mike Tyson career DVD set at It is truly amazing. Given that many of Tyson’s fights occurred before the HD age, the quality is outstanding. All of Tyson’s professional fights are present with one exception, and there are a lot of extras. The best part? If you live in the U.S. you’ll pay only about $45.00 with shipping for this set, which comes in a very nice case and has some pretty neat menus and artwork. My only complaints are that there is next to nothing in the way of pre-fight buildup (each fight basically begins with the ringwalk), and the Danny Williams fight did not play properly (skipped forward frequently, but no scratches on disc). In fact that whole disc seemed to have issues as you could not return to the menu screen from the fight you were watching…it could have been a glitch with that particular disc, though. All in all, this is probably the best deal I have ever seen for such a high quality boxing entertainment product, and I can’t recommend it highly enough for any fan of boxing.

I felt inclined to order that set after reading George Willis’s outstanding book “The Bite Fight,” which I reviewed on As I watched Tyson’s career unfold, I was left with wildly varying states of esteem for Tyson, all of them predictable. Up until the fight with Buster Douglas, I wondered how such a strong, skillful, fast, elusive, and powerful fighter such as Tyson could ever be defeated. At his best, Tyson was a beast, an absolute fighting machine. Defeated Tyson was though, and after that, guys stopped being scared of him (mostly) and fought him back with much greater success. At the same time, though, one could argue that Tyson’s skills had eroded so badly by the time he fought Ruddock and spent three years in prison that there was no way he could ever come close to being the same fighter he was before.

What I think is this: Tyson was an all-time great WHEN HE WANTED TO BE. In other words, he allowed those skills to erode. I don’t think he really cared about fighting anymore after all the shit he went through with Cus D’Amato and Jim Jacobs dying, being fleeced and humiliated by Robin Givens and her mother, railroaded in a rape trial, and being a puppet of Don King. You could see it in his demeanor in the ring before and after fights. Remember how energetic and happy and respectful he seemed early in his career and even initially after winning the title? That was gone around the time Kevin Rooney was, replaced by wannabe gangstas, yes-men in black hats, cheerleaders for hire. If you’ve ever seen the film “The Great White Hype” with champion James Roper’s (played by Damon Wayans) entourage, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It was sickening. And Tyson’s a smart guy. He knew what those guys were, and why they were there.

By this point though, Tyson himself was only in it for the paycheck. He was volatile, yes. The frustration growing out of his failures, both in the ring and out of it, led to unacceptable, abhorrent behavior. That said, I’ll repeat that Tyson is a smart guy. Being in it for the money, he knew that the more outrageous his behavior, the more money in his pocket at the end of the day (unless you’re biting off a chunk of someone’s ear; that’ll cost you about $3 million). By the end of his career and my journey through the DVD collection, I was depressed right along with Mike. Seeing him struggle against guys like Botha, Nielsen, Williams, and McBride, you just knew his heart wasn’t in it. Bert Sugar said it best: “he WANTED to self-destruct.” I am so happy that Mike seems to be doing well now with the Broadway show and the upcoming animated series “Mike Tyson Mysteries.” He just seems happier when you see him publicly now, and it’s almost as though he is having his own George Foreman-like reincarnation, sans the historic boxing comeback. I think he deserves it. Never has a person been more aptly described as a tortured soul than Mike Tyson.

Speaking of Bert Sugar, if anyone is interested, I see that his estate is selling some items from his boxing memorabilia collection. Pretty reasonable too, I might add.

The curse of Floyd Mayweather? I’ll admit, I haven’t gone through Floyd’s entire record to see if there are more, but at least THREE of his opponents have met untimely deaths. Those, of course, are Diego Corrales, Arturo Gatti, and Genaro Hernandez. Does this strike anyone else as odd? Coincidental, sure, but certainly unusual as well, I would imagine.

Say what you will about Wladimir Klitschko, but as pointed out in Ring Magazine, his reign of over seven years will be second only to that of Joe Louis upon his next defense, and his fourteen successful defenses trail just Louis and Larry Holmes. Everyone agrees that he has benefitted from a lackluster field of contenders, but no one can argue that he does to them what a great fighter should: DOMINATES.

The Lost Rematches: I’ll bet many of you didn’t know that since 1999, Larry Holmes had rematches with Mike Weaver and James “Bonecrusher” Smith, that Frankie Randall and Julio Cesar Chavez fought a third time, as did Jeff Fenech and Azumah Nelson, or that Virgil Hill and Henry Maske fought a rematch. Whether you knew these things or not, another bet is that, due to the looooooong wait between fights, you probably didn’t care.
Sean Newman can be reached at
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