Iron Mike Tyson's return is very concerning, says Brian Mitchell

By Julian Kiewietz Time of article published May 19, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - One of South Africa’s greats, and world-renowned former boxing champion, Brian Mitchell feels that Mike Tyson should be remembered for his days in the ring as a young fighting-machine only!

Former undisputed world heavyweight champion Tyson, 53, more affectionately known as Iron Mike, has been flirting with the idea of returning to the ring, much to the concern of Mitchell.

Tyson did state clearly that his intention is to take part in exhibition bouts to raise funds for those in need, however, since then many old ring foes and “new” opponents have thrown their hands up in an attempt to get the attention of the king of knockouts (50-6 with 44 TKOs).

“From a health point of view, it’s very concerning,” says Mitchell, who was crowned the WBA and lineal junior lightweight champion in 1986.

“Boxing is a brutal sport and your body and well-being is on the line,” adds Mitchell who also captured the IBF junior lightweight title in 1991.

“If he does a couple of exhibition match-ups that is fine. The crowds and the traction it will bring... that will be great for the sport. But actual fighting is a different ball game.”

Mitchell believes that social media has a great impact on how things play out these days.

“Fighters need to retire at the right time so that they still have all their faculties in place. I believe Tyson retired at the right time,” says Mitchell of Tyson, who fought his last fight in 2005 when he was beaten by Kevin McBride via RTD (corner retirement).

“Social media plays a big role in influencing how much value can be added to an event.”

It is true that with the likes of mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Pay-Per-View plays just as big a role as rankings in how the UFC link-up fighters as it comes down to what the people want to see and what they will pay for.

“Maybe he doesn’t even want to come back? I don’t think it’s a good idea,” says Mitchell.

“It is great to see him back in shape both physically and mentally, and I am very happy that he has his life back on track,” says Mitchell of Tyson who once terrified the heavyweight division before taking a turn for the worse, allowing himself to get lost in the world on various levels.

“He had a great innings,” added Mitchell, one of South Africa’s most loved boxing sons.

Tyson turned down a bout with All Black rugby star and 7-0 pro boxer Sonny Bill Williams stating that it would be “an insult to boxing”.

Tyson said if and when he gets back into the ring it will be with a “real” boxer, not a “rugby player”.

Former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, 57, then came out guns blazing assuring the world that he is ready to come out of retirement and challenged Tyson to a third fight.

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield are set for a third fight. Picture: EPA

Holyfield confirmed his readiness for a third dance with Tyson after the latter was disqualified for infamously biting Holyfield’s ear in their second bout in 1997 having been beaten by TKO in the 11th round in their first fight the year before.

It was then former world heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs’ turn at selling his stock, claiming that Tyson agreed to fight him - not Holyfield - in an exhibition fight.

According to Briggs, there has even been a date and a venue for their fight.

All these temptations at the feet of Tyson.

“I would probably like to see it (Tyson’s return) but... is it a bit irresponsible to let a 53-year-old legend back in the ring,” boxing promoter Eddie Hearn told British Boxing Television.

“I had a message from someone saying they wanted to talk to me about Mike. He looks pretty dangerous. What’s compelling is could he actually go back in at 53 and do some damage? But should we be encouraging that from an all-time great?

“There’s a fine line and I’ve crossed it a couple of times - between integrity of the sport and entertainment delivering numbers. Our job is to deliver numbers for broadcasters, but we have to keep it as close to the right mark as we can.”


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