|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire -- JULY 27:2001|
Tyson Grills Himself a Dane|
By Chuck Bogle
It was at least a round and a half into Mike Tyson's bout with Brian Nielsen at Copenhagen's Parken Stadium on Saturday before I figured it out. All through the first six minutes or so, I had the nagging feeling that there was something oddly familiar about the fight. Little echoes and eddies of memory, as insubstantial as ghosts, kept pressing in on my (sub)conscious, drawing parallels to other rings, other venues: the faded ex-champ, slower, out of shape, only occasionally showing flashes of the fighter that was; the ( white, my subconscious whispered) no-hope contender with the padded resume; the plodding pace; the rolls of flab; the clutching and wheezing; the final denoument, more truce than victory, as the contender quit on his stool.
Holy cow, I thought. Tyson's become George Foreman.
Once the comparison was verbalized, the analytical part of my brain took over, and I tested the theory. Maybe more like Larry Holmes? Naah, Holmes had more skills, even at the later stages of his career, could take a better punch than Tyson, and was more confident. Tyson definitely is more like second-career Foreman -- he relies more and more on his raw power and ability to intimidate as his speed and skills rapidly evaporate, swears he'll be in better shape next time, positions himself for a title fight that his performance offers no reason to think he could win.
It all fits together. "Iron" Mike Tyson, formerly the scourge of the heavyweight division, the guy who could end careers inside of sixty punishing seconds, has become the new century's premier Tuesday Night Fights fighter, albeit one that still works for Pay-Per-View dollars. That's about as good an example of "nice work, if you can get it" as I can think of.
There's probably no reason to go over the fight in any detail. Nielsen offered virtually no offense, no defense other than absorbing a lot of hard, clean shots to the head and body (one series of which in the third round produced the second knockdown of the Dane's career), and finally used the "everything's looking blurry" excuse to gracefully indicate that he'd had enough by the start of the seventh round.
Tyson fought like a man dreaming, or at least seriously concentrating on something other than the fight. He came straight ahead and went straight back, only sporadically remembered the head movement that was so effective in his younger days, and often seemed to have to nudge himself to remember to throw punches. To his credit, the punches he did throw were hard, usually well placed, and reasonably effective. But Tyson's speed is seriously diminished. Further, Nielsen, who didn't seem to be even trying to hit him, managed to land a number of good flush shots to Tyson's head. If that happens against a Rahman, a Lewis, or even a Ruiz, for crying out loud, it'll be a short night indeed.
Merely recognizing that Tyson's become this century's answer to Big George isn't necessarily a reason for alarm in Tyson's camp. America is all about re-inventing oneself, as Foreman himself has proven. With careful management and some judicious behavior (such as, say, not sexually assaulting anyone for a while), Tyson could even become a beloved figure. Boxing fans are, after all, probably the most nostalgic in sports, and the memory of that other boxer named Tyson (the young one) would probably be enough to convince a lot of old coots to tune in to this Tyson's fights for at least a few more years. The money might be shorter than it has been, but Tyson's name, drawing power and "legitimacy" would almost certainly be enough to guarantee him one, maybe two or three, title shots. He could easily be riding this train well into his forties.
Even Mike acknowledged that he was rusty and needed at least two more fights before he'd be ready for a title fight. I'd put that figure closer to four fights, and they should all be quick, preferably before next summer. Tyson should be willing to fight any time, anywhere, for any money as he works his body back into whatever shape it's still capable of and jogs his memory about all that "boxing" stuff he used to do so well. He should take on real contenders, guys who can let him exercise some of the flabby mental and physical muscles he'll need to look like more than a joke against a legitimate champ. And he should continue the kind of behavior that prompted referee Steve Smoger, unprovoked, to gush about his being a "real gentleman" in the ring.
Of course, none of this will happen. Mike will go back to the sycophants and hangers-on who drain his bank account and his spirit. He'll want to take "some time" off, which will gradually lengthen into months. There will be rumors of a fight with some loser or other in some foreign country Tyson hasn't yet visited, and it'll fall through at the last minute due to lack of interest, or poor conditioning on Tyson's part, or something else. More likely than not, there'll be some existing or new criminal investigation that will complicate his life and his training schedule. Maybe he'll get divorced again, who knows? And just when you're convinced that he's gone for good, a chance for a title shot that at least his advisors believe he still has a chance at will open up, and there he'll be, like a bad lunch, back in your face.
Oh well. There's always one of those Lean Mean Grilling Machine ideas. Tyson should call George up and talk it over.
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