Most boxing fans were not surprised nor outraged by Mike Tyson’s induction in the International Boxing of Hall of Fame. ESPN commentator Skip Bayless, who’s made ridiculous statements on sports figures before, argued adamantly yesterday (December 7) that Tyson did not deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame because he never beat a “great fighter.” In addition, Bayless claimed Tyson only fought bums throughout his career before suffering huge defeats to the likes of Buster Douglas, Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis.
Tyson’s legacy will be addressed more tomorrow in an article I’m writing for the excellent website Planet Ill. But let’s just put a few facts out here. Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history (20 years old), and became the first to unify the heavyweight titles (WBA,WBC,IBF) by defeating all three beltholders (Trevor Berbick, Pinklon Thomas, and Tony Tucker) within the span of a year from 1986-1987. He then made six defenses of the unified title, cleaning up contenders like Frank Bruno, the previous dominant heavyweight champ in Larry Holmes, and the man who could still lay claim to the linear title, Michael Spinks. Fighters rarely unify, let alone do it all within a year. There is not one fighter you can say Tyson ducked in this period.
And even after his upset defeat to Douglas, Tyson fought two exciting fights with top contender Donovan “Razor” Ruddock. Tyson showed grit and courage to rally from being hurt several times by Ruddock bombs. He was scheduled to fight Holyfield next before being serving prison time for rape.
To be frank, Skip Bayless doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Tyson’s losses to his fellow elite peers (Holyfield, Lewis) does lower his all-time ranking, but to use those defeats to claim Tyson doesn’t deserve a Hall of Fame spot is insane.
Check out the below and see if you agree with me.