Mike Tyson’s Life
It has been no secret that Mike Tyson’s upbringing was rough. With his father leaving him when he was just 2 years old which lead to a financial crisis in the family, he hasn’t been shy in sharing how tough it was for him growing up. By the time Mike had reached the age of 13, it was known that he had been arrested around 38 times, whereby he took to street fighting after he was a victim of persistent bullying.
At the age of 10 Tyson spent $100 on a flock of pigeons, and since then his love for birds has never faded. In 2011 he hosted an Animal Planet show named “Taking On Tyson” where he spoke about his passion for these birds. There is also a story about him fighting and knocking unconscious a garbage man after he had dumped a crate with his favourite pigeon who had just died in the trash. He went on to say:
“I rushed him and caught him flush on the temple with a titanic right hand! He was out cold, convulsing on the floor like an infantile retard.”
Throughout his life Tyson has been widely known for having some eye-catching pets. One of the more famous purchases was the 3 pet Royal Bengal Tigers he reared from cubs, which turned out to be fatal when a trespasser jumped the fence to play with one of the tigers, which resulted in their arm being ripped off.
On Tyson’s road to success he met a lot of influential people along the way. Perhaps one of the most inspiring people in his formative years was Cus D’Amato, the renowned American Boxing manager and trainer. D’ Amato is credited with launching the career of Mike Tyson. In his earlier years he used to be a boxer himself, fighting amateur bouts, however his own career was cut short due to an eye injury that was suffered in a street brawl. From here he then made a career out of teaching people how to box. Former champions such as Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres were affiliated with D’amato, showing he held a skill for training. He opened his first gym at the age of 22, which he worked lived and slept in. The Coach took Tyson into his home in Catskill (New York), trained him, and eventually adopted him after Tyson’s mother died of cancer when he was just 16. Cus D’Amato was the man responsible for “The Baddest Man On The Planet” mantra, and often used to tell Tyson how important he was to him – famously during an earlier interview where he turned to his young prodigy, saying, “You know, I owe you a lot (…) What I mean, if he weren’t here, I probably wouldn’t be alive today.” Tyson’s incredible amount of progress in such a short space of time was emphasised at the very beginning when they first started training – D’Amato said,
“The boy can do everything a champion is required to do, and If he does everything he’s capable of doing, I tell you he may go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time.”
Tyson was undeniably successful, with being the former heavyweight champion of the world, and still holds the record to this day as the youngest to unify the WBC, WBA and IBF titles at the tender age of just 20. He won his first 19 bouts by KO, 12 of which being in the first round. He won his WBC title in 1986, after a victory over Trevor Berbick by way of TKO in the second round. In 1987 he then added the WBA and IBF titles respectively, when he defeated James Smith and Tony Tucker. This made him the first heavyweight boxer to hold all these titles and successfully unify them (at the same time). He then became the lineal champion in 1988 when he knocked out Michael Spinks in just 91 seconds. Mike later defended the world heavyweight championship 9 times, including victories over former Champion Larry Holmes and British favourite, Frank Bruno. Being a frequent winner, Tyson was rarely on the face of defeat.
He has 6 official losses on his professional record, the majority of which came on the back end of his career. One being the famous defeat by Buster Douglas in Tokyo (1990) which, it is widely agreed, was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport. After a close fought contest – where Douglas was actually floored in the final seconds of the 8th round, he got up to finish “Iron” Mike by TKO in the 10th round. When Tyson wasn’t getting the best out of the exchanges with his opponents he was infamously known for dirty play. Lets take Evander Holyfield for example, who was very skilled and had an outstanding technical ability in the ring. In his bout vs Tyson, Holyfield seemed to be getting the best out of each exchange which evidently frustrated Mike to which his aggression lead to him biting Holyfield’s ear on 2 occasions, the 2nd time he took a chunk out of Evander’s ear to where the fight had to be stopped and Tyson lost due to disqualification. Tyson revealed after the fight “I bit him because I wanted to kill him. I was really mad about my head being bumped and everything” Claiming that Holyfield continued to headbutt him throughout the fight. When he was asked if he would do it again, Tyson replied “No, never again. But I might do it again. Well if he does what he was doing to get bitten, I would bite him again”
Roy Jones JR Life
Roy Jones JR is widely recognised as one of the all time pound for pound greats – if not the greatest, but how did he get there? Born into a family with a strong boxing tradition, his father Roy Jones Senior, who was a middleweight boxer and a Bronze Star award winner for rescuing another soldier during the Vietnam War, trained Jones JR into the sport of boxing. It was stated that he was “beyond petrified” of his father where many of the training sessions were reportedly brutal and oftentimes abusive. According to Sports Illustrated, it began when Jones JR was 5 years old, where Senior would taunt his son, pushing him to the point of abuse. “I was in pain all day, every day, I was so scared of my father,” Jones Junior said. Often he would be put in the ring with a lot bigger and older men, making it hard for him in the gym and an overall negative affect on his mental health.
The pure discipline from his father could have been what lead him to such a level of success, but many would argue that a father son relationship is much more important than victory. He then went to go on and have a very triumphant amateur career. Roy won the 1984 United States National Junior Olympics, the 1986 United States National Golden Gloves, and came back the following year to win the same competition. Hands down the most controversial moment in his whole career was in the 1988 Summer Olympic games in Seoul, where he was robbed of a gold medal in his fight against Park Si-hun, whereby the Korean only landed 32 punches in comparison to Jones who landed no less than 86. Park also had two standing eight-counts on him and was also warned twice in the bout. This was one of the lowest points in Roy’s career, however also one of his greatest inspirations at the same time. Park said he felt “confused” when his hand was raised with a stunned look on his face, he embraced Jones and held his hand into the air after the fight.
Shortly after the big robbery in 89, Jones decided to go professional – debuting against Ricky Randall and finishing the fight by KO within 2 rounds. Jones made his first attempt at capturing a world title on May 22nd, 1993. He beat future undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins by unanimous decision in Washington D.C. to obtain the IBF middleweight championship. He then went up a weight to super middle, fighting James Tony, who was undefeated at the time and many thought that he was the best of the best. For the first time in Roy’s career he was the underdog. Tony was undefeated after 46 bouts, but when he came to face Roy Jones JR he was schooled.
Jones danced circles around him for 12 rounds, utilizing his speed and athleticism, landing quick combinations, he also landed a flash knockdown in the third round with a leaping left hook – something people had never seen before this moment. In November of 1996 he went on to fight Mike McCallum for the vacant WBC Light Heavyweight Title, where he got a dominant victory scoring (120-107) and finally went up to Heavyweight in his bout to fight against John Ruiz. Jones defeated Ruiz who was the man who defeated an aging Evander Holyfield for the WBA Heavyweight Title.
With all the fame and bright lights Jones lives quite the contradicting lifestyle. He has been the face of boxing in his era and even created rap songs with a group called “Body Head Bangerz,” which made songs such as “Can’t be touched” featuring lyrics like “Can’t be touched, Can’t be stopped, Can’t be moved, Can’t be rocked, Can’t be shook,” which relates to his own ring-craft. This may have been a mind game tactic when he was walking to the ring, he would have this song play and be rapping the words to it on the way. In Reality Jones possess 80 acres of land which he uses to live on as well as farm. Similarly to Mike Tyson, Jones has a passion for animals, where he raises a whole host of livestock, including chickens, ducks, turkeys, peacocks and sheep, which sit alongside his two pet Pitbull’s and a golden retriever. “Animal obsessed” could be a term to describe him and it doesn’t stop there. He also keeps very unconventional pets, with over 200 roosters and some snakes as well as his “snake handling” which he showed off in a YouTube video that went viral.
Since it was first announced back in July of this year, this clash of the legends has caused plenty of discussion in and around the boxing world …a host of fighters from both sides of the pond were quick to offer their opinions. UFC president Dana White urged the event not to happen when he said “I’m begging him not to go fight… You’re 53, Please don’t do it, Please.” Referring to Mike Tyson when he announced he wanted to fight again. George Forman, Two Time Heavyweight Champion and Olympic Gold Medallist was in agreement and stated, “Tyson has done enough great things for boxing. No more is needed.” In contrast, Tyson’s trainer Rafael Cordeiro said the fighter, “Same speed, same power as guys 21, 22 years old.”
The Main Event
Both fighters adopted the styles they used in the prime of their career. For example, Tyson bobbed and weaved his way in, displaying his “peek-a-boo style,” where his defensive hands were placed right in front of his face – this technique offers extra protection with the gloves covering the cheeks and their arms are tight to the torso. The now 54 year old Tyson showed a lot of glimpses of his trademark speed and power which made him one of the most feared and dangerous fighters in the history of the sport. Tyson was described as the “aggressor” for most of the fight, as he was in his prime, whilst Roy Jones did what he was best at, which was sit behind the jab and let his opponent come to him with his defensive and counter-punch style, exactly what he was renowned for doing in his former years. The fight was unofficially ruled a draw after 8 rounds as it was an exhibition match and there were no ringside judges, however many thought that Tyson pushed the fight and was getting the best out of the exchanges as well as the clinches. After the bout Jones JR said “Everything hurts,” about Mike Tyson, reflecting on some of the punches that he took in the bout. The fight between the 2 former champions was as good as it gets between two fighters that are in their fifties and returning to the ring. Roy Jones JR insisted that Tyson “is capable of fighting anybody,” after their fight from someone who has experienced sharing the ring with him. According to “Tyson’s Legends Only League” the fight sold more than 1.6 million pay per view buys priced at $49.49 a piece which ranks the fight among the top 10 combat sports events of all time. It was revealed after the fight that Mike Tyson was high during the contest. When he was asked if he had smoked marijuana before the fight he said
“Absolutely yes… Listen, I cant stop smoking.” He also added, “I smoked during fights. I just have to smoke, I’m sorry. I’m a smoker… I smoke everyday.”
Despite the vast skill-set displayed by the 2 fighters, was this morally right? Although there were rules in place to protect both of them, many didn’t like the fact that 2 former champions were stepping back into the ring as they felt they were more prone to injury. If any of the fighters bled at any point the match would have been automatically dismissed, knockouts were not allowed in this fight and they would be reducing the risk of this by wearing larger gloves than usual. With this ruleset many fans were frustrated that it wouldn’t be a real contest, which is understandable as on paper with those rules it comes across as a dull bout– how very wrong they were. The controversy surrounding this is the way they hyped this up, without telling fans that these rules were in place until the day before the event when Sky Sports released a list of conditions that Mike Tyson and Roy Jones would have to abide by. The dispute was built up in a way which would be a “war” with Tyson saying things like “The gods of war have reawakened me.” Nevertheless, few could argue that the fight was very entertaining and done it for a good cause for charity.
The Future – Where does it stop?
With all that being said, Its no surprise that both Mike Tyson and Roy Jones JR were both up to step into the ring again. In the post-fight interviews Jones was asked if he was happy with a draw to which he responded “Hell no, I aint ever satisfied with a draw” and then followed up with “I wear draws, I don’t do draws.” And Tyson’s opinion on it was, “I’m cool with a draw. It means we just might have to try to do it again.” However, it is rumoured that other ex-champions may be coming into the equation. One of the big names circling right now is the trilogy between Evander Holyfield and Tyson with the two of them meeting at the pinnacle of their careers. Earlier in the year before Roy Jones was the confirmed opponent for Tyson, Holyfield was always in the mix of things when he released a video of him training and imitating Mike Tyson at the end of the video by saying “I’m back” which is exactly what Mike done when releasing the video of him training and getting back into shape. If this fight emerges, Evander Holyfield will be one of the oldest contenders at the age of 58 to get back into the ring. Both the bouts faced between these two champions have gone Holyfield’s way, the first fight being stopped in the 11th round by TKO and the 2nd fight ending by DQ from the infamous ear bite. In June 2014 was the last time Holyfield was active in the ring so very similar rules and regulations will have to implemented if a fight was to ever take place in the near future.
Where will these exhibition fights end? We have seen YouTubers step into the ring last year and throughout this year too, hosting some big events with the KSI vs Logan Paul professional bout which was November last year. Floyd Mayweather – one of the best boxers of all time will take part in an exhibition bout In February 2021 against Logan Paul who has had 1 fight on his professional record which he lost to the popular UK YouTube star “KSI”. Many would say boxing has lost its ‘essence’ as proven here by these 2 that anyone can fight each other now based on popularity. UFC Dana White has blasted ‘the state of boxing’ and questioned how a “Kid that got beat up by the f***ing video game kid from England is now facing Floyd Mayweather” from someone that has experience dealing with creating and hyping up events. Is this the future of boxing?