Saturday 28 June is a date etched in block capitals in the diary of every fight fan worldwide. Cancel everything, this is the future of heavyweight boxing we're talking about! So what should we expect to unfold? What factors will play a part in the fight? Who's gonna win?
Initially, I could see it being a virtual re-run of the November fight, but ol' mother doubt is projecting her little grey clouds into my mind. The only place Tyson is safe in is the most hyped world of world-class boxing. This is what the man lives for. While he's not a brain surgeon, he's not too stupid to ignore an oncoming ambush which could hustle him out of his sole enjoyable role in life (sad, but these are the facts. Why else would he chose to surround himself with men such as John Horne, et al).
It will be very interesting to see what Mike has learned from the last fight and what adjustments, if any, he can make in order to fend off the intense will of Evander. Don't forget, though, that Holyfield is not resting on his laurels here either. He needs to cement his place in the history books and put paid to the "doubting Thomases" who make him a betting underdog five days before fight time. As Steve Collins said when entering his rematch with Nigel Benn, "I have to beat them twice to prove I'm the better man." The Celtic Warrior's obvious frustration at having to dispel public surprise by repeating victories over Benn and previously Chris Eubank before moving on to the path he most wanted to take must be shared by Holyfield.
Tyson needs to have honed his defence in preparing for this fight. Offensively he needs to throw more combinations as against single shots, but I'm afraid that if a knockout opportunity presents itself to Tyson this will be due to a Holyfield blunder rather than any attacking brainwork on Mike's part.
The challenger has to regain that upper - body - and - head roll which trademarked his rise to world class, and which has been suicidally absent since his comeback. He can't afford to ship that right hand - which was the single most effective tool used by Holyfield to win the title -- as frequently as he did last time.
Fear, when controlled, can be used to heat up your cold body. When not controlled, it can burn your whole house down. These words were used by Cus D' Amato in shaping the young Tyson. When Mike found himself in the latter stages of a competitive fight last November, he allowed his fear to burn down his house of dreams. When things heat up these days, Mike has no D' Amato to turn to. He has Richie Giachetti (?), David Jacobs (??) and Stacy Mc Kinley (???). While the return of Giachetti makes an improvement from keeping Jay Bright on, none of Tyson's cornermen can hold a candle to D' Amato. I fell that Cus' death had more to do with Tyson's demise than Buster Douglas (without taking away from Buster's astounding achievement - arguably bigger than what Holyfield achieved last year) or any of the other factors which caused his personal life to crumble.
Whether Tyson can win this fight and go on to secure his much - sought - after place in boxing history depends on whether he can look back and learn. Learn, that is, how to recapture his old form from the days when nobody knew who Mike Tyson was and yet he could overwhelm opponent after opponent with chilling ease and regularity. The days when he depended upon ability rather than reputation and intimidation.
We all know Holyfield will deliver. This fight -- and its outcome -- is all about Tyson.
This is truly make-or-break time for Iron Mike. While there were no excuses last time, there certainly won't be any on Saturday should he fail to perform. He's going to need heart: Don't be fooled into thinking (like Mike himself was in November) that this will be a first or second round demolition job. While I feel that the fence is the best seat in the house to watch this intriguing match from, I'm going to meet the wishes of many (not least my brother) and stand up to take a fall by plumping for Tyson by stoppage.
This decision is governed by my heart more than my mind. Holyfield has had his moment of glory and has declined to accept the advice of many in continuing his career. While I admire the man greatly, I am under no illusion that he has granted this rematch to "give the man a chance." This is about the Evander ego. In one of the most intelligent manouvres in sporting history he frightened King, Tyson and co. by sending out bluff signals that he was considering retirement having dethroned the Iron one. When the big cahoonas were suitably sweaty and waving enormous wads under Holyfield's nose, the champion feigned a change of heart and secured one hell of a payday.
My heart holds a soft spot for Mike Tyson. I think he was hard done by in his childhood. I think he was hard done by in his fight with the US judicial system. I think he has had his insecurities preyed upon by King and the many 'Team Tysons' ever since he made something of his life and became a money machine. I think he was hard done by in life, full stop. He has done boxing a few favours however in exchange for his sometimes obscene wages. His breathtaking flights of dominance in the heavyweight division - while a tad boring and predictable at times, due to the lack of competitive challengers - have arguably made him the only individual to create such mass public interest in the sport since Ali's prime. I mean, just picture both fighters having tune - ups for this rematch. Which warm - up do you think would sell more tickets? All of the above add up to my heart saying Mike wins on Saturday. My head hopes (italics) he does.
Interestingly, Larry Holmes said a number of years ago that Tyson would end up in jail or dead before he reaches 40. He has been proved half right already. If Tyson is banished from the top echelons of pugilism on Saturday, what pieces are left of his so - far tragic life will hold so little value for him that his nightmares are likely to become worse.
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