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Lewis Will KO Tyson Early and Easily1 May 2002
Those of you preparing to watch the Lennox Lewis - Mike Tyson Heavyweight Championship fight are in for a shock. Here it is: Mike Tyson is not Mike Tyson; he never was Mike Tyson, so calling him a "has been" at this point in his career would be a compliment. Here's the other shock for those of you expecting a good fight: Lewis is going to dominate Tyson easily and knock him out early, between rounds three and five. (The only way Tyson won't go down and out is if he manages to contrive some way to get himself arrested before the fight, or disqualified during the fight, or if he lands a lucky punch to Lennox's china chin.)
Here's the truth: the Tyson of popular legend, that fierce, powerful, fearless juggernaut, never existed against fighters who stood up to him. Witness Buster Douglas, a marginal heavyweight at best, thoroughly dominating him and finally knocking him out -- in Tyson's prime!
The Tyson of popular imagination never ducked a bum (they used to call them "tomato cans") he could intimidate or knock out; never fought a heavyweight of limited skills whom he could not dominate; and never once gave a real top contender a shot for his title. You will never see names such as Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer, David Tua, Michael Moorer, the young Evander Holyfield, or the old George Foreman on his dance card. Why? Because any one of those men would have come into the ring intending to -- and probably able to -- beat the living you-know-what out of him.
Instead, during a pitiful boxing but highly successful public relations career that made him appear invincible, "Iron" Mike Tyson made his "mark" on opponents whose skills were limited, to be generous, or nonexistent, to be factual, such as James "Quick" Tillis, James "Bonecrusher" Smith, Mitch "Blood" Green, and Carl "the Truth" Williams. (What is it about boxers with self-created nicknames and minimal fighting ability?) His two most impressive wins were over a comebacking but out-of-condition, and thoroughly disgruntled, former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, whom he knocked out in four rounds, and a terrified, deer-caught-in-the-headlights Michael Spinks who went out on the exhaust of the first serious punch Tyson threw in the fight. His two fights with Razor Ruddock, a decent heavyweight, were unimpressive, a sixth round TKO on a controversial stoppage, and a dull 12 round decision.
That's it for his "prime" career. Then came a three-year prison sojourn for rape, and a comeback against the most pathetic assemblage of "boxers" one could, well, assemble. Recall that when Muhammad Ali made his comeback, his first two fights were against #3 contender, Jerry Quarry, and #1 contender, the formidable Oscar Bonavena. Then Ali went after Smokin' Joe Frazier, an all-time great. Not so "Iron" Mike. He fought Peter McNeely, who subsequently lost to just about everyone he fought (he was knocked out by a slice of pizza in a commercial), the hapless Buster Mathis, Jr., a petrified Frank Bruno, and finally Bruce Seldon, who was "knocked out" (wink, wink) by a punch that missed him by almost a foot.
At this point in his comeback Tyson was ready to fight a "name" opponent, Evander Holyfield. However, the Holyfield that Tyson thought he was going to fight, a washed-up, spent fighter who had fought miserably, tired abominably, and was mercifully knocked out in his most recent championship match against Riddick Bowe and one who had struggled against a blown-up middleweight, Bobby Czyz (after that fight people believed Holyfield actually had a heart condition and he had to undergo a thorough battery of tests to get relicensed) was not the Holyfield who showed up for the fight. Tyson thought he was going to fight a man who was overripe for the plucking. Unfortunately, the Holyfield who entered the ring with a song and a prayer on Nov. 9, 1996 for the fight had enough juice left to dominate "Iron" Mike and finally knock out the self-styled "baddest man on the planet" in the 11th round.
In the return against Holyfield in 1997, Tyson, probably realizing he was going to get iced again, decided to snack on Holyfield's ears and was disqualified.
Then followed a series of bizarre incidents in 1998 culminating in Tyson again beating up "fighters" who couldn't compete with him -- this time, two middle-aged Maryland motorists who happened to have had a fender bender with him. He went to prison for a year for that.
There followed another comeback in 2000, against such unformidable, forgettable opponents as Julius Francis, Lou Savarese, and the now-bizarre Andrew Golota. In 2001, the Tyson odyssey saw him pounding on a guy, Brian Nielsen, who resembled the Pillsbury Dough Boy. He yeasted the dough-boy in seven rounds.
And that is, as they say, that. So who has he fought? Nobody. Who has he beaten in his prime and in his recent bouts? Motorists and the mediocre. Take this to the bank: Tyson has never been in a real fight that he hasn't lost. Douglas fought him and won. Holyfield fought him and won. The others on his hit parade either didn't fight him or didn't have the tools to fight him. His body looks impressive, chiseled, and scary -- especially when you realize that his tattoos honor the mass murderer Mao Zedong and the equally awful non-freedom fighter, Che Guevera. Looks are deceiving, to put it in a well-worn, completely accurate cliche.
I'll repeat: Tyson never was and still isn't the Tyson the media has hyped.
Now, flip to Lewis. Nobody would ever call Lewis an all-time great as all-time greats in their prime don't get knocked out by marginal, though decent, fighters such as Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman. Yet, like Holyfield, Lewis has fought and beaten many of the best fighters of his era -- those who would fight him, that is. For years Tyson avoided Lewis; so did Riddick Bowe; so did old George Foreman and, yes, so did Holyfield for that matter. Still, the list of fighters of decent to good skills that Lewis has beaten is impressive (some of these wins have been spectacular while others have been dull): former heavyweight champ Mike Weaver, Tommy Morrison, the tough-as-nails Ray Mercer, #1 ranked contender Henry Akinwande, Razor Ruddock, Andrew Golota (prior to his becoming a strange case), Shannon Briggs, Evander Holyfield, Michael Grant, and David Tua. He destroyed both McCall and Rahman in return matches with them, as true champions should.
Compared to Tyson who has fought and destroyed only nonentities in the last two years, Lewis has been quite active in the ring against credible opponents, and he should be in great physical condition for the fight -- fighting condition, not posing condition.
There is only one thing that makes this fight the least bit intriguing and that is Lewis' lack of a solid chin and the fact that he seems to have some Hamlet in him (he lacks the will to do the deed at times). When he gets hit, he goes, and quickly at that. Or, if he's thinking too much, he fights as if he's a light-hitting heavyweight as opposed to a 6'5" mastodon who can hit like a, well, mastodon.
Tyson, on the other hand, while not invincible, has shown himself capable of enduring some punishment before calling it a night. And Tyson has a big punch. If he lands it early and if Lewis is not warmed up, Lewis could go. In a fight the fact that Tyson is not a thinker (as his life and career clearly show) could help him if Lewis/Hamlet shows up, instead of Lewis/Macbeth.
But in the sum and total of their parts and personalities, abilities and boxing acumen, Lewis has much the better of it. If he comes to fight, he will make Tyson look foolish and land a big one right on "iron" Mike's scowling face, or in his belly (right in the face of Che Guevera). Tyson will go down and stay down. Then the world will realize that Tyson never was Tyson and still isn't.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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