Mike Tyson is an icon but simply not one of the greats


Many consider Mike Tyson one of the greatest boxers of all time.

The youngest boxer to win a heavyweight title, he reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990 and had a career record of 50-6.

Tyson also gained notoriety and popularity for his intense, impulsive persona.

Despite all this, if you break down his career fights, Tyson is not even in the same realm as the best to lace up the gloves.  

First, let’s analyze Tyson’s most notable career losses.

In 1990, Tyson suffered his first career loss while defending his heavyweight title against then up-and-comer Buster Douglas. It was one of the biggest upsets in not only boxing history, but sports history.

Six years later, after regaining his heavyweight title in a previous fight, Tyson lost it to future Hall of Famer Evander Holyfield, who was four years older, by TKO. The following year, Tyson rematched Holyfield but lost once again by disqualification when Tyson infamously “bit Holyfield’s ear off.”

After this defeat, Tyson never held a title again.

In 2002, Tyson fought the current undisputed heavyweight title holder and future Hall of Famer Lennix Lewis for his belt. Lewis was older by one year. Tyson was defeated by knockout in the eighth round.

No fans would ever consider Buster Douglas one of the greatest to ever to do it, let alone Hall of Famers Holyfield and Lewis, who both dominated Tyson.

That said, how is putting Tyson in the category of “greatest to ever do it” justifiable?

Now, let’s look at Tyson’s most significant wins.

During his career, Tyson only defeated two Hall of Famers: Larry Holmes (who was 38 at the time) in 1988 and Michael Spinks later that year.

Overall, Tyson only boxed four Halls of Famers in his career and went 2-3 in those bouts — with one of those wins coming against a version of Larry Holmes well past his prime.

Comparing that to the likes of Muhammed Ali, who has 11 wins against Hall of Fame opponents, Tyson has a minimal sample size of matches and a losing record against elite boxers.

I am not trying to downplay Mike Tyson’s greatness: He is still one of the most incredible talents the sport of boxing has ever seen. His ferocious fighting style and flamboyant personality put him in the public’s eye as one of the best of the best.

However, when you look at his career with a magnifying glass, you can see this is truly not the case. Mike Tyson may be an icon in the sport of boxing, but he is undoubtedly not one of the greatest to grace the ring.



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