Is the World Ready for a Mike Tyson Comeback Fight in 2020?

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

Is Mike Tyson really coming back?
Is Mike Tyson really coming back?Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

"The Baddest Man on the Planet" hasn't been in the spotlight for well over two decades now.

But at the age of 53, Mike Tyson, the boxing icon who became the youngest heavyweight champion in history by defeating Trevor Berbick in 1986 when he was 20 years old, seems determined to give it another go.

"I'm back," he revealed in the latest training video the fighter released via social media on Monday.

It was a montage of Tyson performing some crisp and powerful combinations, the kind of video that almost immediately goes viral when someone as famous as Tyson releases it.

Boxing on BT Sport 🥊 @BTSportBoxing

Mike Tyson has been training HARD ahead of a potential comeback 😳🔥 https://t.co/fzcGSEbsgt

But how can Tyson be back? And what does that even mean to the current landscape of the heavyweight division?

Those are the two most pressing questions that come to mind about his declaration.

First, let's be clear about one thing right off the bat: Maybe more than any other culture in sports, boxing suffers from its own obsession with romanticizing the past.

Nothing is ever good enough right now.

It was the same during the 1990s, now considered one of the best and deepest heavyweight divisions in boxing history, and so it goes today.

Not convinced?

I'm telling you, as a kid growing up during the fantastic fighting days of Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe, all I heard about and read in magazines growing up then was how these guys couldn't possibly compare to the heavyweights of the 1970s.

Heck, I have several The Ring magazines from the 1950s in my dresser drawer right now with inches of ink devoted to how terrible a champion Rocky Marciano was, the only heavyweight champ in history to retire undefeated and never return to the ring.

And I'm telling you that my grandpa thought Joe Louis could butcher any other fighter who walked the earth even when Louis was an old man.

In boxing, the past is always better than the present.

So despite the amazing heavyweight landscape that exists today, one that includes Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, there are still many who long for the good old days of "Iron" Mike Tyson.

Certainly, after Tyson's latest video, those folks are ready to see him back in action, even if they probably shouldn't be.

Look no further as an example of this way of thinking than boxing trainer Jeff Fenech, who told Sporting News in April that he believes this 53-year-old version of Tyson would beat some of the best heavyweights in the world.

"I'd guarantee that if Mike Tyson trained for six weeks, he'd knock Wilder out in a minute," he said. "He would hit them. If these guys are getting knocked out by Tyson Fury—who's a great fighter, but not a huge puncher—Tyson would kill these guys."

ESPN MMA @espnmma

Coach Rafael Cordeiro (@kings_mma) told @arielhelwani what it's like to hold mitts for @MikeTyson 😅 https://t.co/9MDRfgWZQH

But Tyson hasn't competed in a real fight since 2005.

In that contest, the once-formidable Tyson was soundly defeated by Kevin McBride, a fighter the former champ had described as a "tomato can" before the action ensued.

"I'm going to gut you like a fish," Tyson said at the pre-fight press conference, per The Sweet Science's Arne Lang.

But McBride beat the truth out of Tyson, showing minimally that he no longer had what it took to compete as a top-tier professional prizefighter.

"I don't have it anymore," Tyson said afterward. "You're smart too late and old too soon."

And that was 15 years ago.

Tyson's last fight didn't go so well.
Tyson's last fight didn't go so well.PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/Associated Press

Still, Tyson is the most popular boxer in history, at least this side of Muhammad Ali, so there will always be plenty of interest around his comeback plans.

Heck, arguably his biggest generational rival, Holyfield, revealed he'd be interested in a third fight against Tyson for charity.

And why wouldn't he?

Holyfield defeated Tyson in 1996 via knockout in one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight championship history, then again via disqualification in the infamous "Bite Fight" one year later.

So the plain truth of the matter is that Tyson hasn't been what people remember him to be since well before those two fights over 20 years ago.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 28: Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson fight for WBA World Heavyweight Title on June 28,1997 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Fight was stop in the third round and Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ear
Focus On Sport/Getty Images

One could argue he never got back into top in-ring form after being convicted of rape and sent to prison in 1992.

Oh, how we cherish the past in boxing.

Regardless, Tyson's comeback to boxing seems to be moving forward anyway.

One of the best heavyweight champions of all time, if Tyson truly wants to return to the ring as he says he does, and he can pass all the required medical tests required to do so, he deserves the chance to try.

But hitting the mitts is one thing, doing charity exhibitions against other old fighters for fun is another, and facing legit heavyweight contenders and champions right now in 2020 is one, too.

The first two things make passable sense for someone as popular at Tyson, who might simply want another go at what he loves to do.

That last thing, though? Coming back to fight the best of the best right now? It's a bad idea, even from someone once considered the baddest dude around.


Kelsey McCarson covers combat sports for Bleacher Report and Heavy. Follow @Kelsey_McCarson on Twitter.


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