Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali are often mentioned in the same sentence whenever fight fans begin discussing the greatest Heavyweight boxers of all time.
There is good reason for that. In Ali’s long and storied career, he won 31 fights before ever tasting defeat. When he finally did, it was to the legendary Joe Frazier, whom he would later beat in two rematches throughout the 1970s.
Most boxing analysts agree that Ali stayed too long in the fight game and sustained unnecessary damage because of it, but you could never tell it from his final record of 56-5.
One other note about Ali — three of his five losses were later avenged (Frazier, Ken Norton, and Leon Spinks). Only after losing his last two fights to Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick did he finally call it a day.
Holmes was the only fighter to ever stop “the Greatest” before a fight went the distance.
Mike Tyson exerted similar dominance over his division, winning his first 37 fights, most of which came by way of knockout.
His invincibility was stopped on a fateful bout with James “Buster” Douglas on February 11, 1990. He would never avenge that loss, but did manage to score four consecutive victories before his rape conviction in 1991.
After being released from prison a few years later, he resumed his career in 1995 with four more wins before running aground in back-to-back bouts against Evander Holyfield.
He stayed around almost as long as Ali, ending his career with an impressive 50-6 record along with two no contests.
Since Ali’s death was announced late Friday evening, the boxing world has waited to see how Mike Tyson might respond, and he has not disappointed.
His initial response came the day of Ali’s death via Twitter. While it was heartfelt, 140 characters isn’t quite enough to do a man like Ali justice. Nevertheless, here’s what “Iron Mike” had to say.
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) June 4, 2016
If that isn’t enough for you, never fear. On Monday (June 6), Tyson released a touching video in which he rattles off one of the icon’s most famous speeches.
“Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. I’m pretty. I’m a bad man. I shook up the world. I’m the greatest of all time. I can’t be beat. It’s impossible!”
Fox Sports has the video here.
Boxing fans who grew up at least cognizant of both of these guys in their prime will likely get chills from it. That said, it is by no means the first time their paths have crossed in the news.
— AtTheBuzzer (@TheBuzzerOnFOX) June 5, 2016
According to Mike Tyson himself, the first time he spoke to Ali was on a phone call to Tyson’s adopted father, Cus d’Amato.
He detailed that encounter on an episode of Conan earlier this year.
The call came the day after Ali had lost to Larry Holmes. Cus told Ali that Tyson would one day be the champion of the world — he was 14 at the time — and that he needed Ali to tell him to listen to d’Amato’s advice and instruction.
What Ali actually said was a little more chaotic as he was still upset by the loss, but it left enough of an impact on Tyson to put the young man in tears, telling the champ that he would “get” Holmes for him.
Ali would later be at the fight when Mike Tyson and a 38-year-old Holmes squared off. Tyson won via Round 4 knockout, though in the video a humble Tyson says that “I got lucky” alluding to Holmes’ age at the time of the fight.
“I was very lucky to win. Larry was old at that time. He was old — 38 — and I was 20. Muhammad Ali was at that fight, and he said, ‘Get him for me.'”
What did you think of the Mike Tyson tribute to Ali, fight fans? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Eduardo Merille]