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June 18, 2005

Epitaph for Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson started off as a twisted kid with talent and potential. He morphed into a fierce fighter with no class. Today Tyson is a loser with no class and no potential. This picture now goes down in history as the dictionary reference for 'washed up'.

When Tyson finally got served by the British champion Lenox Lewis it was clear that he was over many rounds before it happened. I distinctly remember one of the commentators saying how that fight seemed like the one fight that showed us all to be suckers. As it proceded you thought how was it that we ever thought this guy in the ring was a heavyweight champion boxer? He was too short, he couldn't get inside the jab, his punches didn't hurt his opponent. Suddenly, everything wrong with Mike Tyson as a fighter became obvious. Regardless of his history and problems, I just momentarily felt sorry for the outmatched loser in the ring who was desparately trying to live up to the reputation of Iron Mike Tyson. And then I simply wanted Lenox Lewis to crush him and end it for good.

Lewis lacked the killer instinct to deal the death blow to Tyson's career. That ended up being a great misfortune for Tyson who screwed up the courage to return to the ring instead of learning a lesson with some finality. And today he will enter the zone of ignomy reserved for the mighty who have fallen, Skilling, Simpson, Koslowski, Ebbers, Tyson. Beat down, knocked out, bled dry. No chance for redemption.

The place for Mike Tyson is some retreat in New Zealand. If he can afford the ticket, he should flee, learn to appreciate music and find some trees to chop in his spare time. At least there he might find somebody to appreciate his tats.

Stanley Crouch said of Tyson that he was a hiphop boxer, and that's probably true. There were moments when his punches ripped opponents heads so quickly and viciously it was like something nobody had ever seen. The moments were edited and spliced into montages of awesome destruction. You would think, looking at these merciless seconds, that Tyson was a supernatural force, an embodiment of a jackhammer jack move. But like the great moments of a breakdance, these were but unsustainable backspins. If you put a breakdancer on a pommel horse they fall off. Tyson didn't have what it took to do the entire routine and the camera cut away before his energy faded.

Tyson had to destroy his opponents utterly. Those he could not destroy in rapid fashion, he bit just like a crab rapper. And that's how he went out, like a sucker. He could freestyle, but he couldn't write. In the end, he couldn't box. He didn't have the heart.

That said, Tyson delivered what was necessary. I don't particularly care about an professional sporto's off-field demeanor. That's probably why I am more of a gamer than a true sports fan. I just dig the action, the person creating it doesn't even have to be a real person, much less a respectable one. So you're not going to hear from me what a tragedy Tyson's life circumstances were. Whatever. We paid to see him knock out opponents in the ring, and with any luck we'll always have those video clips, the literal hooks that we can sample. That's all we'll ever need from Tyson.

Here lies Mike Tyson: Action Snack.

Posted by mbowen at June 18, 2005 08:41 PM

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