Boxers, either active or retired, have very big egos indeed, that trying to mediate an argument between two pugilists will likely get you a trip to a hospital.
Take the case of Deontay Wilder and Mike Tyson, who have sparked a debate in social media as to who would win in case they figured in a mythical match up of sorts. It all began when Tyson said Wilder would not last if he met a fighter who could really hit back, which got a reaction from Wilder who said he could beat Tyson if they met in their primes. “We have to see what happens when he [Deontay] gets hit back,” Tyson was quoted as saying by boxingnews24.com.
The 6’7” Wilder would later say that nobody below 6’5” could beat him, according to an analysis by Ivan Goldman in boxinginsider.com. So that means he could beat a prime Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Louis, Larry Holmes or Joe Frazier, according to Goldman.
Weighing about 225 pounds and being one of the tallest heavyweights today, Wilder does have the size to beat opponents who are smaller than him. Maybe Wilder, in a prime-to-prime match up, could be beaten by the 6’8” Vitali Klitschko, who so far has chosen to remain silent on the issue. Vitali, unlike his younger brother Wladimir, has never been knocked down in his stellar career.
But let’s discuss Tyson vs Wilder; if this fight was held if the two were in their primes, I still expect, and this is my opinion, the 5’11” Tyson to win. While Wilder exemplifies a physically big and strong fighter who has good technique, the Tyson everybody saw on his way to becoming the youngest world heavyweight champion had raw aggression that was fueled by his internal demons that eventually would cause his downfall in the future.
The 31-year old Wilder (38-0 with 37 KOs), even with his cockiness, is still much of a civilized fighter in the ring, choosing to pick his opponents apart before going for the kill. Just watch his recent fight against a smaller and older Gerald Washington, whom he stopped in five rounds.
While Washington was also a big fighter at 6’5”, do you honestly believe he would last two rounds if he got into the ring with a 20- or 21-year old Tyson?
It is also a mistake to view Tyson as a mindless slugger because he actually had good defensive skills; just look at how he uses his “peek a boo” strategy to wade through the punches of his bigger opponents to unleash his deadly left hook followed by a merciless flurry.
Many boxing fans also forget how Tyson captivated the boxing world when he launched his “reign of terror” to win the world heavyweight championship at 20 years old. He literally carried the sport of boxing on his shoulders during his prime, and was never outshined by fighters from the lower divisions. That proves that his ring persona and fighting style bewildered boxing fans, who were divided into two camps: those rooting for him to win; and those who wanted him to lose badly.
But Wilder? He could not even grab the limelight from the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Saul Alvarez, Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia or even our very own Manny Pacquiao. And even if he is retired, Floyd Mayweather Jr. can generate more news if he goes on a verbal tirade compared to Wilder.
Wilder may be big and strong, and has astounding knockout power. But beyond that, he lacked what some kind of dark force that possessed Tyson once the boxing legend was in the ring. Tyson also easily stroked fear in the hearts of his opponents even before a fight started. Only very few fighters like Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Buster Douglas were able to face Tyson almost without fear.
Tyson’s downfall, however, was not caused by his lack of skills but by his changing handlers, and his own lack of skills in handling money. And his painful past, like being molested during his younger years, contributed to his being emotionally unstable off the ring. He ended his career with record of 50-6 with 44 KOs.
We haven’t seen somebody like Tyson since he retired in late 2005.