WAIL! | The CBZ Journal | August 2004

The Tyson comeback train comes to a brief stop, but don't worry...

by Dean Vios


It will keep on chugging. It has to. Tyson's camp is in love with the idea of marketing a lucrative victory lap hinged on this newly repackaged version of Mike Tyson. Tyson fans both closet and public alike want it. People who don't even care about boxing will always turn their heads to look, as they would for a traffic accident. People who hate Tyson can always hope for another beating. The heavyweight division itself surely needs any attention that will take away from how miserable it truly is. Most of all, Tyson needs it if he's interested in staying out of jail.

This new chapter sounds like something between a feel-good story about someone out of a drug rehab and the marketing of a cure-all drug, as told by a television evangelist.

The New Tyson! So calm, rededicated, refocused, reenergized. Plus, we've got Freddie Roach! This new model citizen comes with none of the side effects of ear biting, domestic violence or mindless ranting. We are going to wow you with KO's in the tradition of this legend's heyday, saving you from the misery of this division as we crawl to the top in our two-year, seven-fight plan. You get all of this and more at the wonderful price of $44.95 a shot. So if you hate your heavyweight division and are desperate for a trip down memory lane, hop aboard! Don't be left out when Tyson is champion once again. It will be the most amazing comeback in history!

Bought it yet? I just about did. Why not? You got a more exciting idea?

Once the train began chugging, reports flooded out stating that Tyson was showing up to camp, doing the roadwork and getting his weight down. More reports followed, affirming that camp was going well and that he was actually looking good. The interviews kept coming, showcasing this new version of Tyson, confirming what others have reported. This was a new Tyson: calm, cool, and serene. One who actually laughs at himself and reminds us that he is a dad and cares what his kids think. Thousands show up to watch him spar as he humbly admits he can't figure out why. Awww, what a guy!

Fight night comes. The new train takes off like a rocket. Shades of Tyson appear as promised. He rocks Danny Williams early, and the crowd roars and jumps to its feet. Jabs, head movement, body work—the trademarks of the legend are evident. It can't be! Suddenly the heavyweight hero stops to check his knee but no one worries; Iron Mike is back.

Mike fights on, the tempo begins to drop, but the adrenaline of the first round numbs all to the fight at hand. Not everyone is aware of it, but much to Tyson's surprise, Mike is in a tough fight. Williams will not give up, as many have told him he would, including Roach. Tyson gets cut and starts to realize this is not going right, this is not what was planned.

I've got a bum knee, I'm cut and in front of a quitter who won't quit, who can not only crack but take my shots...what idiot put me in here?!

The train was failed by a committee of conductors. With the exception of Roach, the management was deeply in love with this new vehicle of boxing, but not with their hearts or even with their brains—but with their wallets. Even Roach was guilty for buying in too deeply with his heart. They marveled at their own reinvention of the Tyson mystique and blindly believed Mike's power would ultimately rule over suspect chins and bad heavyweights, regardless of the intangibles. Now there are some real problems to attend to.

All I knew about Williams was that he'd lost badly to Sinan Samil Sam. I thought he was some Clifford Etienne type who could punch but wasn't much in the chin department. In the end, I figured Tyson's management must have known he was the perfect opponent or he wouldn't have been there. When Williams weighed in at 265 pounds, my jaw dropped. I knew the guy wasn't a total slob of a heavyweight so it concerned me. Why would his management take the risk with a guy who might actually be able to hurt Tyson on physics alone? It's not as if they have to prepare for Lewis anymore. Why not dig up a smaller heavyweight to play with, a more out-of-shape or older opponent for Christ's sake? Instead, they send a big guy with something to prove not only to himself, but to England, who is without a real heavyweight presence. It sounds like too big a chip on the shoulder of a tomato can, doesn't it? I guess it isn't if Williams is willing to take half of what Clones Colussus was taking.

But don't you worry—Mike will be back. Everyone noticed how Shelly Finkel would not allow anyone to talk to Tyson so he could not deliver a similar speech like when he lost to Lewis. This way he could not get the chance to yet again publicly admit that he no longer wants to box or get beaten up. Behind closed doors, they will first apologize, then they'll remind him of his financial position, comfort him with excuses, and let him rehearse what they want him to say for damage-control purposes. Once this is all taken care of and the new chapter is ready to be released, another fight will be announced. As we know, the blame will be on the knee and something else TBA, I'm sure.

The reality is that this train is 38 years old with many miles and broken parts. No matter how much we shine it, it's scrap. Once again, people trusted those responsible for reconditioning this vehicle one more time. Even Mike did, to some degree. Sounds familiar, don't it?

Same mistakes, same ol' Mike.



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