Iron Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 Kos) was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) on June 12. It seemed like it was a given after he retired. But there are thousands of fans around the world asking the question why.
Is Tyson really worthy of a place in the hall next to a list of boxing immortals?
If actions outside the ring had any bearing on the induction process then there’s no way he belongs. Tyson’s been nothing more than a thug most of his life with several convictions to prove it, including prison sentence for rape. But even if we give him the benefit of the doubt and base his selection purely on what he did in the ring, the question still needs to be asked.
His actions inside the squared circle weren’t much better than outside of it and they should have led to his permanent ban from boxing. Biting off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a match in 1997 should have been the end of Tyson’s ring career right then and there and another jail sentence should have followed as the result of it.
However, he was given another chance for some reason and showed the boxing world he had reformed by trying to break the arm of Frans Botha’s in his very next fight 19 months later. He wasn’t finished there either as Tyson then tested positive for marijuana in 2000 after taking out Andrew Golota by second-round TKO in 2000. That result was changed to a no contest.
Tyson did manage one major accomplishment in his career and that was becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history by beating Trevor Berbick by second-round TKO back in 1986. But it’s hard to find another defining moment in his career. In fact, the most memorable image millions of people have of Tyson is of him on his hands and knees trying to put his mouthpiece back in after Buster Douglas knocked him into oblivion into Tokyo. Douglas, by the way, was an above average boxer who went into the fight as one of history’s biggest underdogs.
It’s hard to say what Tyson’s biggest win was because when opponents stood up to him, they destroyed him, including Douglas, Holyfield twice, and Lennox Lewis. He also lost to no-name fighters Danny Williams and Kevin McBride. But not only did Tyson lose these fights he embarrassed himself and was knocked out in all of them, the only exception being a disqualification against Holyfield.
Sure, Tyson managed to stop a washed-up ex-champion in Larry Holmes and beat Mike Spinks, who was basically a light heavyweight and was scared to death. But what are his hall of fame defining moments? His overall record may look good on paper, but it includes a couple of dozen mediocre fighters such as James Tillis, Mitch Green, Reggie Gross, Lorenzo Boyd, Marvis Frazier, Jose Ribalta, Alonzo Ratliff, James Smith, Tyrell Biggs, Tony Tubbs, Tony Tucker, Pinklon Thomas, Carl Williams, Henry Tillman, Alex Stewart, Peter McNeeley, Buster Mathis Jr., Bruce Seldon, Orlin Norris, Julius Francis, Lou Savarese, Brian Nielsen, and Clifford Ettiene. Can you spot a world class heavyweight or hall of famer in this bunch?
Tyson’s best wins were over the likes of Frank Bruno and Razor Ruddock, who he managed to beat twice each, but they’re not exactly the cream of the crop either. When Tyson did meet the absolute best heavyweights of the era, in Holyfield and Lewis, he failed miserably.
Tyson’s career might have been worthy of a hall of fame induction if he had managed to act like a gentleman in and out of the ring, but sadly he didn’t. He’s in the hall purely on his name, not of anything worthy or historical he achieved in the ring.