To go through this imaginary fight we will have to set a referential point that locates us in a time and in a circumstance. This starting point will help us to carry out the most admissible hypothesis since it will be in these periods that unequivocal comparable symmetries will occur.
Muhammad Ali was World Champion at the time he was sanctioned with the withdrawal of his license for denying his enlistment to the armed forces while the war in Vietnam was going on.. His pre-suspension fight had been on March 22, 1967, knocking out Zora Folley in the 7th round. Three and a half years later, on October 26, 1970, he returned to the rings against Jerry Quarry, whom he defeated by knockout in the 3rd round.
Muhammad Ali was 28 years old at the time and had contested 29 fights, of which he had won 24 by knockout, including the one that made him world champion against the fearsome Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964 in Miami.
Mike Tyson was no longer world champion when he went to prison for rape Desiderée Washington in suite 606 of the Canterbury hotel in Indianapolis on July 17, 1991. Judge Patricia Gifford sentenced him to 6 years in prison and compensation of 30,000 for his victim, although for good conduct he recovered his freedom at 3 years and 8 months.
At the time, Tyson, 29, had lost his undefeated and world crown to James Douglas by knockout in the 10th round in Tokyo. Before that he had won 37 fights of which 33 were by knockout and four by decision. He had only been beaten by James Tills and Mitch Green in 86 'and James Smith and Tony Tucker in 87', rivals with great experience and many tricks. And this detail will not be less as we go through the analysis.
Let us then take as reference for an imaginary encounter two emblematic fights: Ali-Foreman (1974) and the two Tyson-Holyfield (1996 and 1997). To validate this parameter, let's look at the converging factors:
one) They both came from long absences, they had been world champions, they were highly valued celebrities and the public loved them.
2) The two had ambitions to get their crowns back, were physically full ages and had defined their styles.
3) Both had to start again with fights of less assumed risk until reaching the championship; but it was not like that.
4) Tyson regained the title against Frank Bruno (K.O.T in 3rd) after two very easy fights without physical expense: Peter Mc Neeley and Buster Mathis, in total 4 rounds. That happened when I was 30 years old, on March 16, 1996.
5) On the other hand, Ali was only able to reach the then invincible champion George Foreman after 17 tough fights against the most powerful rivals of the moment such as Ringo Bonavena, Joe Frazier (former world champion, agonizing fight and rematch), Ken Norton (also twice with breakage). from his jaw), Buster Mathis, Jimmy Ellis and Floyd Patterson (both former world champions), among others. By the time he arrived in Kinshasa to face Foreman, he had climbed this difficult hill and was 32 years old on October 30, 1974.
6) Tyson faced Holyfield in Las Vegas with 47 fights made and Ali fought Foreman in Congo also with 47; There are two significant differences: Ali's rivals were all top of the line and he was two years older than Tyson. And finally:
7) Ali's three years out of boxing were to preach his religious and military beliefs in the Muslim facing serious desertion charges before a military court, while Tyson's three and a half years in prison were served in a licentious, non-drug-free manner. , women and alcohol, according to his own testimony.
What fight plan could Tyson have brought up other than to attack Ali inbound? Would you know how to do other things? Could you do it against a rival with so many resources?
Tyson, the one with the strongest punch and the fastest attack among the heaviest in history, could only resort to finding the space to connect his fearsome combination of two blows with the same game: the left hooked to the intercostals to cut the air and the ascending hook to any destination of the head. This was his formula to consummate the 44 knockouts obtained in his remarkable campaign; But this unique recourse also explains five of his defeats as the remaining one was by disqualification, product of his furious bite to Holyfield in the 3rd round of the rematch fight.
Tyson won two orthodox boxers with qualified technical resources like Evander Holyfield – who also drove him crazy with his levers, moorings, head butts and verbal provocations – and Lennox Lewis, an Englishman with a fine print, large stature, impeccable handling of the left jab and harmonious backward movement.
Lewis was half of Ali in technical prowess, personality and heart. However that was enough for him to beat Tyson by knockout in the 8th round. We will not count the last two losses against Danny Williams (30-7-2004) or Kevin Mc Bride (11-6-2005) since Mike was no longer Tyson. A case similar to that of Ali who lost the last two against his former sparring, the good of Larry Holmes (2-10-80 by KO in 10th) and Trevor Berbick (11-12-81 for points) when osteoarthritis and debts would cruelly write the final chapters of such a beautiful and dramatic story.
Ali was 1.91 and Tyson was 1.78. And Muhammad's reach was 198 cm against Tyson's 180 cm.
Tyson's impressive muscles were achieved with anabolics and other additions very common in gyms, Muhammad's with exercises of Calisthenics, a Greek gymnastics, traditional in boxers.
These muscular conformations have always produced the dilemma of greater punching force (Tyson) in exchange for a quicker ease in the arms (Ali) to "sting like a wasp and float like a butterfly". Not everything: having worked The force with a lot of load in the gym also produces glutes, quadriceps and very thick, marked and strong twins (Tyson) that will end up conspiring in the face of the need for a rapid lateral or backward movement (Ali) with finer legs achieved in favor of the Accumulation of kilometers of morning running.Furthermore, I have seen Muhammad run a couple of kilometers backwards straight on a field of grass to harden his buttocks and streamline his legs.
What fight would Ali do? There is no doubt: the same one that faced the many Tyson that he faced in his long and brilliant career of 61 fights. Joe Frazier He hit less hard than Tyson but had a much more sustained attack rate. Foreman he was taller than Tyson and made the blows split faster. AND Sonny Liston He was a puncher of relentless offensive and withering punch. These three examples are the closest, in nuances, to the style of opponent that Tyson would have meant to Muhammad.
These technical factors on which any strategy should be based would be somewhat less important than the psychological one. Holyfield beat Tyson because he mentally overpowered him in both fights. In the last one it drove him mad to imbalance. It was when, at the start of the 3rd round, he spat out his mouthguard and, fed up with foules and the whispered insults in each clinch, went straight to bite him until he was disqualified.
Muhammad, 22 years before this happened, had weakened Foreman before he stepped into the ring at the Kinshasa National Stadium. The fight ended up giving George a nightmare as Ali was too far away when he intended to attack him, and too close when he tried to counterattack him. He was never able to resolve the issue of a conducive space for hitting him. Ali always left the knockout fire zone and narrowed the spaces when he chose the ropes for the replica. It was in such circumstances that he generated the three knockout blows (8th round, on 10-30-74 in Kinshasa) with which he regained his World crown for the second time.
– What would have been Tyson's chance to beat Ali? Only with a knockout shot in the first five rounds, exerting a lot of attack pressure.
– What would have been Muhammad's chance to beat Tyson? Take him to a long fight, wear it with the left jab, always dominate the distance, take advantage of all the holes to strain the right in and out of the middle distance. And obviously unbalance him emotionally until his doubts take away the necessary mental integrity that drives him. For Muhammad it would not have been difficult to achieve since it was his specialty.
Fighters like Tyson are betting on their aggressiveness and achieving the first net blow that opens the way for them. If they obtain it – generally it is thus – they will prevail; but when the rival does not facilitate it in the short term, they tend to become depressed until helplessness. Such a situation "takes" them out of the bout and they are capable of doing anything: some prefer to leave the ring as Mano de Piedra Duran against Ray Sugar Leonard and others bite the rival as Bonavena to Lee Carr in the 63 'Pan Am Games or Tyson to Holyfield in the rematch of 96 '.
We would have seen the record fight for audiences, ticket sales and betting. There would have been no mention of anything else in the world of sports from two months before until the eternity of the legend. Imagine just going up to Tyson's ring with his wide black pants, his white towel on the thick steel neck and that intimidating look … And on the other side how the crowd would have gone mad when warning a concentrated Ali, with his eyes fixed and taciturn in her white coat. Two true ancient gladiators with no strident music, no costumes, no diving suits, no circus, ready to fight and secure their lives because a fight of such magnitude would have meant to each of them not less than 200 million dollars plus the royaltis generated by the different platforms.
If Tyson did not take Ali with a surprise, unexpected blow, since the manual ones would never have come to him, much less in the initial rounds, Muhammad would have won that fight.
After seeing them fight both of them many times, writing about them and transmitting in many cases their fights, I have no doubt that Muhammad Ali would have dominated Tyson mentally, technically and tactically until playing with him and humiliating him before knocking him out.
What a great blessing to have seen them fight personally to imagine what will never happen.