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Home » Evander Holyfield perfectly describes, defends Mike Tyson’s legacy

Evander Holyfield perfectly describes, defends Mike Tyson’s legacy

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  • 4 min read

agniinationagBoxing fans will forever discuss where Mike Tyson deserves to sit on the all-time list of heavyweight greats. The fact he enjoyed two completely separated careers always enters that debate.

However, former opponent Evander Holyfield was able to perfectly define Tyson’s legacy despite beating “Iron” Mike twice. Not to mention that Holyfield lost a chunk of his ear to the “Baddest Man on the Planet” in 1997.

The passing of Mills Lane evoked memories of that fight and re-opened the whole incident.

Evander Holyfield interview

But when WBN spoke exclusively to Evander Holyfield about Mike Tyson in an interview, his words resonated and still stand up today.

Opening up the line of questioning, WBN asked Holyfield if the ear-biting and subsequent fine and suspension hurt Tyson’s legacy.

“Not at all, because when you talk about Tyson, you have to talk about how great he was,” Holyfield explained to World Boxing News.

“The fact is he did amazing things. For one thing, he was the youngest heavyweight champion ever until we get another one. But right now, he’s the youngest guy that did it. He became the champ in his early twenties. I became the heavyweight champ at 28. I was a lot older, and you learn from other people’s problems.

“So, when people talk about Tyson to me, they can’t bring anything negative into me. For the simple fact of the matter, Mike and myself were on the same squad trying to make the Olympic team [in 1984]. I made it, but he didn’t make it. So here’s a guy that could have just quit, but he continued what he wanted to do and became amazing in the eighties.”

On whether anybody in history could have beaten Mike at his peak between the ages of 20 and 24, Holyfield replied: “It’s hard to say.

“It’s like saying, could Tyson have beaten Trevor Berbick when he first turned pro or did he fight him at the right time?

“Trevor Berbick was a good fighter, so could Mike have jumped out of amateur and beaten a Berbick or a Bonecrusher (Smith) – all the top guys at the time?

The timing of Mike Tyson

“A lot of it is about timing, and things happen at the proper timing. I try not to get into all that because the fact of the matter is you’re young when you’re young, and you’re old when you’re old, but everything counts. It’s just how you play it.”

On watching Tyson’s astonishing rise and the media attention created, Holyfield stated: “At the time, Mike had great people around him. And when I say great, I mean people who could move him towards the top, getting him up the ladder.

“He also had the publicity to get people interested straight away. The publicity for Mike Tyson at that time was just astonishing. They were talking about him being worth more than a whole football team.

“The people he fought, he knocked them out, but it was amazing that the whole show was just Mike Tyson. You’ve never seen so many people so compelled by this individual. But when it blows up [as it did against Buster Douglas in 1990], people are still hooked on him because he’s the guy that knocked all these people out.


“Either way, he’s a person that when it all came down. Mike did something that nobody else could do. Along with his crew, he was able to capture the imagination of everybody. Here was a guy that could go out and beat anybody.

“You look at the amount of attention on Muhammad Ali and the way Ali had it back then. But here was a guy that had it all in a short period of time. You’d have thought Tyson had been fighting for twenty or thirty years.

“You can’t take away what he did in the 80s. He was the youngest champ, and that will always be respected,” he concluded.

Where does Mike Tyson rate on your all-time list of heavyweights?

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