Amid a frenzy of public interest in Mike Tyson’s comeback fight last weekend, figures within the sport must understand that talk of a Tyson heavyweight title run is premature and that sometimes the past is best left in the past.
Last Saturday’s spectacle between Tyson and Roy Jones was one of the feel-good stories of a year which saw global sport ravaged by the impact of a global pandemic.
There he was, Tyson, one of the most transformative figures in boxing history, bobbing and weaving in the ring with his fellow fifty-something opponent Roy Jones – and he didn’t look half-bad.
It was measuredly a different version of Tyson compared to the listless iteration of the “Baddest Man on the Planet” who quit on his stool 15 years ago against Kevin McBride. In fact, everything about him was different.
To be clear, the 2020 version of Mike Tyson isn’t the same fighter we all saw recede into heavyweight obscurity all those years ago. If he was motivated by his finances and an overbearing fear of failure before, those sentiments have been successfully replaced with the joy of competition and a desire to raise charitable funds for worthy causes.
So, with Tyson’s character significantly rehabilitated from where it was throughout certain parts of his boxing heyday, some figures within the sport don’t want the 54-year-old to stop there.
George Foreman, who won a version of the heavyweight title from Michael Moorer at the age of 45 in 1994 – some two decades after he was defeated by Muhammad Ali in “The Rumble in the Jungle” – said in the aftermath of Tyson’s comeback that he can envision a scenario where “Iron Mike” becomes reacquainted with heavyweight gold.
“If he gets in shape like he’s in now, and then gets his timing back, and all the other things fall into place, he can have an opportunity to fight for the title,” the Hall of Fame fighter told USA Today.
“If he can be managed right, a champion, the right champion, will come to him. And if the right one comes, he can knock him out.
“Tyson looked great,” Foreman added. “He really did. And Roy Jones had to use every old skill out of the book to keep himself from being knocked out.
“I just couldn’t believe what I saw. And that was just an exhibition. Just think if (Tyson) had some activity the last two years. He’d be in line to be the champion of the world again at 54, 55.”
Let’s just get this straight: Mike Tyson will never win another heavyweight title and any talk of this even happening is insincere.
The reasons for this are innumerable. At 54, Tyson almost certainly won’t be granted a license to fight against a bonafide current heavyweight by even the most unscrupulous of athletic commissions.
Furthermore, Tyson hasn’t made any serious comments that he would even be interested in chasing gold once more – perhaps due to him being acutely aware of the gap in talent which separates him from today’s top fighters.
So, that’s where this talk must end. There is undeniably room for nostalgia – particularly in a year in which so many of us have been starved of high-level sport for so long. But the idea of rolling out retired icons into what would essentially be a one-sided beatdown would leave a bad taste in the mouth of all who witness it.
George Foreman defied Father Time all those years ago to reclaim the world heavyweight title two decades after he lost it to Ali, but for Tyson to do the same ten years senior to Foreman’s age at the time of the Moorer fight isn’t just unrealistic; it is dangerous.