Sunday, June 12, 2005

Porcelain Mike Tyson

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Once known as the Baddest Man on the Planet, Mike Tyson's bizarre boxing career apparently came to an end on Saturday night when he refused to answer the bell for the seventh round against Kevin McBride.

Coming into Saturday's bout, Tyson had lost 2 out of his last 3 fights. This included last summer's fourth-round knockout at the hands of Danny Williams. Nonetheless, Tyson was filled with his usual pre-fight bluster in the days leading up to the McBride fight. At the pre-fight press conference, Tyson promised that he would "gut him like a fish." As it turned out, Mike Tyson was the man with no guts.

According to written accounts, (no, the Banshee did not shell out $49 for PPV on this), the fight was fairly even through the first 5 rounds. Tyson landed some hard shots, but McBride did not waiver.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Then in the sixth round, spectators witnesses a Tyson meltdown reminiscent of the second Holyfield fight. Tyson had already been warned in the second round for throwing a low blow. In the sixth, Tyson was warned again for an illegal arm bar. Then Tyson was finally penalized 2 points for an intentional headbutt that opened a gash over McBride's left eye. After a brief consultation with doctors, McBride continued the fight. McBride fought well for the remainer of the sixth round. The gigantic Irishman utilized his 38-pound weight advantage by leaning on Tyson. Just before the end of the round, Tyson gave way to the leaning and fell to the canvas.

None of the written accounts indicated that Tyson was hurt by anything McBride threw in the sixth round. And yet, Tyson refused to rise from his stool when the bell sounded to start the seventh round. After the bout, Tyson indicated that he would not fight again. Tyson told ESPN, "I don't have the stomach for this no more. I most likely won't fight again. I'm not going to disrespect the sport by losing to this caliber of fighter. I'm sorry to disappoint. I wish there was some way the fans could get some of their money back."

Now that it's all over for Iron Mike, the Banshee has mixed feelings. Mike Tyson has been part of the sports landscape in America for twenty years. In the mid to late '80's, Mike Tyson was more than just a fighter. He was a force of nature. In a sport known for showbiz glitz, Iron Mike would step into the ring with black shoes, black trunks and no robe. Then he would destroy his foes with a ferocity so great that he struck fear into spectators and opponents alike. Never was this more apparent than when Michael Spinks stepped into the ring on June 27, 1988 in Atlantic City. When you watch the tape of that fight, there is no mistaking the fear in Spinks' eyes as he took the instructions at the center of the ring. That title fight lasted only 90 seconds.

But, all that was 17 years ago. The man who once ruled the boxing world with his iron fists spent his last moments inside the ring sitting on his stool. He had been beaten by the sort of plodding, heavy fighter that one normally only sees in the early phases of an EA video game. Although the Banshee had once despised Mike Tyson more than any other athlete on the planet, I actually did feel a little lump in my throat as I watched this broken man end his career in such disgrace.