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What if “Iron Mike” Faced Tyson?

John Gatling

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If you can’t accept losing, you can’t win. During the final press conference last Wednesday for Tyson Fury Vs Deontay Wilder II at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, I’d seen enough to know that a “Bomb Squad!” had been deactivated.

During a weigh-in on Friday that proceeded with caution, I’d seen enough to know that a British S.W.A.T. team was on the way. Sometimes the more things change the more they don’t stay the same. 

A little over 18 years ago, I watched Mike Tyson go absolute Norman Bates on acid for the official unveiling of Lewis/Tyson, an event almost left in the oven longer than Mayweather Vs Pacquiao. He savagely attacked the media with a sado-homophobic deluge of crotch-grabbing filth too repulsive for even the finest connoisseurs of word or visual porn. This, after he went pseudo-maniac on a completely unperturbed WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis (which in truth, was what really infuriated Tyson), who would go on to introduce “Ion Mike” into an iron right hand he would grow even more familiar with on June 8, 2002 inside of Pyramid Arena in Memphis, TN.

Having spent the better part of my teenage years worshiping and idolizing Tyson, what became the young man in me had renounced any faith in him at all, for I then fully understood what had been guiding him all along: Fear. 

Tyson knew on that cold January day, immediately after understanding that Lewis was not afraid of him at all, that he was cruising for a severe bruising. But he had 5 months to live with what he [could not do] to Lennox Lewis, remedied only by a last hurrah payday he so desperately needed. Deontay Wilder, by emotional and mental comparison, had only 2 days to process what Tyson Fury did do to him in shoving him across the stage, while forced to reconcile an arrogant assertion that it was he who’d been responsible for Fury’s resurrection with a promise of hallow destruction. Unbeaten and unaccustomed to polarity, Wilder failed to employ psychological warfare on Fury; who after reassessing himself from December 2018, decided to effectively possess the falsehood in Wilder at he weigh-in while hovering over him like some sort of fistic Unabomber.

I knew it was over. And beyond a debatable Mark Breland towel (I’ve heard all of the griping, but can’t see a situation where a crying out loud and slobbering Tony full of tears is screaming at Rocky to “Throw the damn towel!”), I’m not so sure if Wilder didn’t get Ivan Drago’d by Tyson Fury. 

My real problem with Wilder’s corner, is what they allowed him to do before the fight in the dressing room, which is take part in a completely out of bounds ringwalk that looked to include a very sauna hot outfit that weighed an extra 10 lbs of bravado on top of his career heaviest 231 lbs of muscle. And it was Fury who made too many corner changes? The late Emanuel Stewart never forgave himself for allowing Thomas Hearns to have a massage in the dressing room that relaxed the legs of the Kronk legend. In retrospect, I don’t know that Deontay ever truly comes to terms with what happened to him. 

I was a child inside of Madison Square Garden to witness a vengefully redemptive Roberto Duran celebrate his 32nd birthday by literally beating the soul out of a Davey Moore rich in hubris.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZev0ucgyIY

It says here that the very best “Bronze Bomber”, one we now know was a product of “Brown Bomber” era competition, still gets KO’d by a data rich Fury this past Saturday night. We now see him. He’s as limited a heavyweight champion we’ve ever seen in terms of pure technique and technical ability, while in possession of a World War II era Atomic Bomb. Fury, however, has modern interceptor capability, and rightfully pulled up his trunks as far as they could go while pulling into Wilder’s driveway, refusing to allow him to reverse course. In the process, he exposed an alarming vulnerability to the overhand right and a savage body attack. For those of you who may feel left out wondering how Deontay Wilder would fare in front of a vintage “Iron” Mike Tyson, their bully personas would cancel each other out, and I can’t see Tyson — an extremely fast starter to Wilder’s slow grind on average — not avoiding Wilder’s shocking right hand for the most part or just absorbing it on occasion with his stout dimensions. He would. Lewis, I believe an equally murderous puncher with the right hand (Side note: Please tell me Lewis doesn’t have ALL KOs with much more ease if given Wilder’s competition. If you think you can do that, then we’ll coin Roger Mayweather’s “You don’t know shit about boxing”), damn near killed himself striking Tyson repeatedly with it over nearly 8 full rounds. 

What’s more, is Tyson would close distance with much more of a fury than Fury did, while hammering the male model midsection of a very game Wilder with lethal hooks, throughout a fight that would look a lot like Mike Tyson vs Jose Ribalta.

In short, he’d bludgeon and beat the hell out of Wilder until both corners threw in the damn towel.

But what struck me about watching Fury the other night, was how difficult it was for me to envision Tyson beating him (who I observed cheering wildly for Fury in the aftermath from ringside), any version of Tyson, something I found fascinating to consider because no prior version of myself would’ve been so honest. We attach a certain sacrilege to legend rendered untouchable, especially when paired against those considered unworthy. Go back if you can to the Sammy Scaffs of the world and take a tour all the way up to the Peter McNeeleys, and you’ll do more than imagine a prime Tyson having problems with really big heavyweights of limited ability who really used their size on him. He was a 220lb heavyweight more cult villainous than brave hero. 

Fury would’ve taken a seat among the journalists that infamously crude January 2002 in boxing history with a bag of popcorn, thoroughly entertained watching a depraved Tyson put on a display that just might’ve frightened someone named Desiree Washington. By the time Tyson was met by a Lewis who greeted his antics with “Meh”, he’d been nearly 15 years removed from one of the biggest events in boxing history in “Tyson vs Spinks: Once and For All”. 

Nothing about a big stage awed him, for he carried a very real God complex that Floyd Mayweather would later adopt. By comparison, he faced a manufactured version of what Tyson was in Wilder, and would very much recycle “Iron Mike” into an aluminum can. The one unbeaten and unaccustomed to polarity at 35-0 with 31KO’s in front of Michael Spinks. 

Easily. 

It’d be something like “Back To The Future” in real time; where Frans Botha becomes Tyson Fury and doesn’t get his arm twisted while making us all go ‘Buster who’?                 

               

Senior correspondent for NY Fights and author of upcoming book, "The Fist Club." Conscious indie recording artist "T@z" and humanist advocate for the Green Party.

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