I'll get this out of the way up top... I know for some this will be a controversial topic given Tyson's well publicised troubles outside (and even inside) of the ring, however for the purposes of this post I'm only looking at Tyson the boxer.

For me, Mike Tyson aka Iron Mike is the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. 

Sometimes our view on stuff is clouded/tinted by the generation in which we grew up, and I was a teenager in 1980 so the early/mid 80s were deeply influential in my life. By the time of Tyson's first televised fight in Feb 1986 I was 18 and very impressed by what I saw, and the rest of my early adult life was dominated by Tyson's burgeoning career in the ring as opponent after opponent got obliterated by him.

The likes of Ali & Foreman were big in the 1970s and such were a little before my time, though in fairness I grew up knowing exactly who they were and had immense respect for them, especially Ali, but I never paid them the same level of attention I gave to Tyson. My Dad however loved Muhammad Ali.

Back to Iron Mike... Tyson quickly demolished each boxer placed before him and there was some criticism about the quality of the journeymen fighters he had to deal with early on in his professional carrer. However, every fighter who has ambitions of a title shot has to work their way through some deadwood to get there, and it wasn't until July of 1986 that Tyson finally faced some supposed quality opposition in the form of Marvis Frazier, a former world title challenger. Tyson knocked him out in 30 seconds of the first round with his now legendary uppercut.

On Nov 22nd of the same year Tyson got his first shout at a World Title as he fought  Trevor Berbick for the WBC heavyweight championship. Tyson won by TKO (Technical Knockout) in the second round, and at the age of 20 years and 4 months became the youngest heavyweight champion in the history of boxing.

The following year was massive for Tyson as he was now facing the opportunity of unifying the WBA, WBC and IBF Heavyweight Titles. This begin on March 7th when Tyson fought James Smith, putting his own WBC belt on the line for Smith's WBA belt. Prior to this fight there had been some discussion about Tyson's ability to go the distance over 12 rounds given most of his fights hadn't gone much further than the second, but Smith took Tyson all the way to the 12th round. Tyson won on a unanimous points decision and was critical of Smith's poor tactics.

After this fight Tyson demolished Pinklon Thomas in the 6th round in May and then went on to face Tony Tucker, placing his WBA & WBC belts on the line for Tucker's IBF belt. This was arguably Tyson's toughest fight to date with Tucker actually fighting and even winning some of the early rounds on points. However, as the fight went on Tyson found his rhythm and it was soon business as usual ending with a unanimous points decision as he won all three judges cards to become the first Undisputed Heavyweight Champion since Leon Spinks in 1978.

Tyson then retained his titles through to Feb 1990 when he suffered his first professional loss to Buster Douglas who won by a TKO being the first opponent to knock Tyson down. Douglas became the new undisputed heavyweight champion of the world having pulled off one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Tyson went on to win a few more fights and had a shot at regaining the undisputed heavyweight title again as he was due to fight Evander Holyfield on November 8, 1991, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, but Tyson pulled out after sustaining an injury during training.

1991 was the beginning of the end of the Tyson as we knew him as he was arrested for rape in July of that year. Tyson was convicted of rape on February 10, 1992 and was sentenced to six years in prison along with four years of probation, however he was released in March 1995 after serving less than three years of his sentence.

Once out of prison Tyson set out on the comeback trail and won his first few fights easily and regained the WBC belt in March '96 by knocking out Frank Bruno in their second fight. In November '96 Tyson finally fought Evander Holyfield but lost by TKO in the 11th when the ref stopped the fight. Holyfield had already knocked Tyson down in the 6th round and things hadn't really improved for Tyson by the time the ref intervened.

For me this was the end of the love affair, Tyson was pretty much washed up and the new generation of heavyweight title contenders such as Lennox Lewis simply weren't scared of Iron Mike in the same way that his contemporaries had been.

Tyson had one more fight with Holyfield in June 1997 but the fight was stopped by the referee at the end of the 3rd round with Tyson being disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ears. This truly was the end for me and arguably for Iron Mike too. The fallout was huge and Tyson never fully recovered from it, losing his boxing licence, being fined $3m and ending up in prison again (after assaulting some motorists).

Iron Mike was a phenomenal boxer in his prime, but he is a deeply flawed and tragic human being. However, for me Iron Mike will always be the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time.

This post is part of a series in the Blogging From A To Z Challenge, April 2022.


  1. Mike Tyson is good. After that ear-biting incident, I kind of find him scary now. :D Lovely post.

  2. Though I never followed the sport, Tyson's name was everywhere back then. It is unfortunate that things went the way they did for him, but he was talented.


  3. I am not a boxing fan but I do remember Mike Tyson being on top of the world in the 80s and as you pointed out the kings of the ring in the 70s were Ali and Foreman. It's sad that Tyson messed up the way he did. I think he was desperate to get back what he lost while in prison. I hope he's a changed man these days and is able to help young men to not go down the same path that he did. Unconsensual sex is never okay. Thanks for dropping by my place today. Happy A2Zing!

  4. mike tyson was one of the better ones. Thanks for stopping by


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