From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, there was no discussion of Mike Tyson as one of the greatest boxing talents in the world.
Aside from a famous upset from Buster Douglas, ‘Iron Mike’ knocked all of them aside to appear as a top dog in one of the golden eras of heavyweight boxing.
But for once opinions are divided about Tyson, who is planning an extraordinary comeback at age 53 as he hopes to compete for the first time in 15 years.
Mike Tyson (left) trains hoping to return for the first time in 15 years
Potential opponents include Shannon Briggs and longtime rival Evander Holyfield and it’s got the boxing world talking. Opinions vary from the fact that he can easily take his place at the top of boxing in less than 60 seconds, while others suggest he doesn’t last three minutes.
So who is there for or against a potential professional comeback and what have his potential opponents said?
RETURN OF TYSON COMEBACK
George Foreman (two-time heavyweight world champion)
‘I was so happy [on seeing Tyson training again]. He looked like he had turned the clock back for at least twenty years. He looked fit and those punches came sharp.
“If he can go into the woods and dedicate himself to that for about 10 months, he can come back and really be a top candidate. So it starts talking about exhibitions, but then it gets bigger. And Tyson, I’d love to see him back in the ring. He’s an older guy, but there is always a record waiting to be broken. ‘
Former heavyweight world champion George Foreman believes Tyson could return as a credible challenger in the heavyweight division
Jeff French (former trainer of Tyson)
Boxing is not the same now. I would guarantee that if Mike Tyson trained for six weeks, he would be right [Deontay] Wilder in a minute. He would hit them. If these guys are knocked out by Tyson Fury – a great fighter, but not a huge puncher – Tyson would kill these guys. They are not at the same level today. ‘
Former Tyson trainer Jeff French (pictured together in 1996) has little doubt that Tyson could still prove that he was the best boxer in the world
Larry Holmes (lost by KO to Tyson in 1988)
“I’d say go ahead and do it. They get the chance to show what they have and if they look good enough they probably get the chance to fight someone in the top 10 [heavyweights]. Evander Holyfield is a good fight for Mike Tyson, but it’s also a bad fight because Holyfield knows him. He fought him, beat him up. So Mike Tyson should worry about that, he’s going to worry about it. It will be in his mind, “Holyfield can hit me with this, that, this.” He will try to be careful and it can hurt him. ‘
Holmes supports a Tyson comeback while portrayed while fending off ‘Iron Mike’ in their 1988 fight
Eddie Hearn (supervisor)
“They contacted me. I got a call, a message, someone contacted me and said “I want to talk about Mike.” ‘I would like to see it. But I’m looking forward to it, and I know people will say, “Well, you fought YouTube with KSI,” but is it a bit irresponsible to get a 53-year-old legend back in the ring?
‘I do not know. He looks pretty dangerous, but I guess it’s just the fascination that he could enter at 53 and do some damage in the division? Maybe maybe not. There’s a thin line and I’ve crossed it a few times, a bit with the integrity of the sport versus entertainment and providing numbers. Our job is to provide numbers for our broadcasters. But we should try to keep it as close to the correct marking as possible. I don’t know, stranger things have happened, we’ll see. ‘
Eddie Hearn was careful but excited about the opportunity to see Tyson compete again
AGAINST TYSON COMEBACK
Dana White (UFC president and friend of Tyson)
“I love Mike Tyson, I beg him not to fight. I said ‘you look great, you are still explosive, you are clearly still powerful, you are one of the greats of all time. But Mike, you’re 53, please don’t do it, please ‘. The bottom line is I don’t want Mike to fight. When it comes to when he’s about to do something crazy, I might have to jump in and think of something so that he doesn’t do it. ‘
Dana White is a close friend of Tyson’s, but hopes he won’t return to the boxing ring
Dillian Whyte (WBC interim heavyweight champion)
“There are so many different thoughts and ways to think about this. If they want to do something for a good cause in a practice match, that’s fine. But as long as they keep it that way and don’t try to get back into the professional ring. Because what it does reduces all their hard work they’ve done over the years. It’s like ‘you’re fifty now, just relax, enjoy your success, and enjoy your retirement.’ Maybe they get hurt, you know? ‘
Dillian Whyte is satisfied with an exhibition-style comeback, but is opposed to seeing Tyson compete professionally because he believes he should ‘enjoy his retirement’
Carl Froch (former multiple super middleweight world champion)
“I mean, if you’re in your thirties and retired for a year or two, I’d say no, don’t bother, because you can never be what you want. If you’re in your 50s, you shouldn’t even consider it. I’ve seen Mike Tyson, he looks explosive, and he looks fantastic for the five-second clip I saw on Instagram. But we’re talking about a three-minute round for 12 rounds or a two-minute round if it’s professional boxing. There is a reason why these people are retiring and that is because they can no longer do it.
“I don’t know what’s in their head, whether for money or for whatever reason, there are a lot of people out there talking about it and I’m very concerned and I don’t think it’s a good idea. You lose your reflexes, you lose your timing, and your stamina begins to slip in your early to mid-30s. So if you’re in your 50s to come back and compete at the top level against young athletes, you have absolutely no chance. I don’t care if your name is Mike Tyson, it doesn’t happen. ‘
Cal Froch claims that Tyson has a ‘zero chance’ of competing in today’s heavyweight division
Dave Allen (Current British boxer)
“If I were offered the Mike Tyson fight, the money would be fantastic, but it wouldn’t be right, would it? Many people would laugh at this, but this is the fact – I would beat 53-year-old Mike Tyson. And that’s the saddest thing every boxing fan wants to hear. For that reason alone, he can never box again. ‘
Dave Allen says he could beat Tyson, so he can’t return
POTENTIAL OPPOSITIONS …
Evander Holyfield (Defeated Tyson in 1996 and 1997)
“Mike and I talked about it once (the exhibition) and from that moment on people talked to my people. We are not yet at a point where we agree, but there have been discussions. There are some great people from different countries who would like us to do this. My whole thing is, “Yes, if there is a way we can do it, then do it.” I am me and Mike is who Mike is, I know it can be something big. If it could work out, it should be understood that none of these other things can happen (with Tyson). Nobody gets a decision whether to win or lose or go for knockouts. Exhibition.
“Yes, I want to fight Mike Tyson. My whole thing is that I’m open and I know I want to do good for myself at the age of 57. I can certainly handle it. But Mike should also want to do it. We have to think of something that is not a grudge match. It’s not about who can beat whom, but to show people that we were some of the greatest fighters of our time and we came together as men to do something for others. ‘
Evander Holyfield (left) and Shannon Briggs are likely Tyson opponents for a comeback
Shannon Briggs (former WBO heavyweight champion)
“I just talked to Mike Tyson, it’s going down, me and Mike, we’re going to live it up, it’s official, you’re going to see it happen, Brownsville vs Brownsville. Me and Tyson are going to put on the gloves, we are going to mess around, mess around in the jungle. We let our fist do the talking. The money is there, the money is almost there, I can not say much more, I leave it at that. This is for a good cause, this is an exhibition, I want people to understand it. We all know it’s an exhibition and then we’ll see what’s left in the tank. It’s for a good cause, it’s going to be fun. ‘
Danny Williams (Defeated Tyson in America’s penultimate fight in 2004)
“I can confirm that some of my agents wrote my name to fight ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. We are still waiting for an answer, but I definitely want a fight. I am very interested to meet Mike Tyson again. ‘
Tyson’s penultimate game of his career saw him suffer a shock loss to British Danny Williams
Sonny Bill Williams (former rugby star turned boxer)
“I grew up watching Tyson and his fights. It’s hard not to admire Tyson’s strength and cruelty like so many other sports people around the world. It would be a humble and surreal moment in my life to stare at him and know that I was in front of one of the greats of the sport. It would be an honor … a career highlight to share the ring with an iconic figure of world sport. If it’s for a good cause, I’d like to get in the ring with Mike Tyson. ‘
Despite Sonny Bill Williams admitting he wants to fight Tyson, it’s a fight the former heavyweight world champion has already turned down