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It's Boxing--What Did You Expect?

By Tom Danehy

July 8, 1997:  THIS IS HOW bad boxing has become: On Saturday night, my wife and kids and I were settling down to watch a video together as a family. (Before you think we're in a Norman Rockwell painting or Mormons or something, let me tell you that the video was Scream.)

Anyway, we pop the video in the VCR and before the movie could come on, we could see somebody talking about a special report on CNN. We stop the video to see what's going on, and they talk about how the heavyweight championship fight has been stopped because Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear. I just shrugged and started the movie.

It was like, "And?"

Were we supposed to be surprised by this? The only thing that surprises me is there was no gunfire.

Mike Tyson is a thug in a sport which not only embraces thugs, but absolutely glorifies them. He was a thug when he came off the streets with explosive fists to become the youngest heavyweight champ ever. He was a thug when he raped that young woman (and he did rape that woman, the whiny apologists' claims of "What was she doing in his room?" notwithstanding), and he was a thug when he got his ass kicked in the first Holyfield fight.

That he would act like a thug when he's getting his ass kicked a second time by the same dude should surprise no one. And make no mistake about it: He was in the process of taking another ass-whuppin' when he decided to go berserk and try a little cannibalism on pay-per-view.

Like millions of guys, I'm a rabid sports fan who has only the slightest interest in boxing. And I wouldn't care for it at all were it not for the fact that I grew up during the reign of the greatest sports figure of the century, Muhammad Ali.

I can appreciate a good boxing match; I've seen my share. Hearns-Hagler, The Thrilla in Manila, Rumble In The Jungle, and (for you boxing purists out there, here's an obscure-but-great-one) Bobby Chacon vs. Cornelius Boza-Edwards.

But these days, with all the money and Don King and other criminals involved, most boxing matches have no chance of living up to the hype, so they end up being disappointing on down to dismal.

A couple weeks ago down at the gym, my buddy Jay was trying to convince me Tyson had lost the first fight on purpose, so he could win the second one and then have a rubber match next year.

(Several people have asked me what happened to my old sports buddy, Skippy. Besides the matter of his now being married, he's still in Tucson during the weekdays. However, he's spending much of the summer on a weekend tour of the United States. Each weekend he flies to a different city, where he stops in and annoys friends and relatives by rubbing in the fact that his beloved Chicago Bulls stole the NBA title from Utah.

(Seeing as how this is the Bulls' fifth championship, his list of friends and/or people willing to admit they're related to him has shrunken considerably. The tour should have lasted about a day-and-a-half. But Skippy stole a Christmas card list from his grandma, so he'll be out on the road until mid-September.)

In the meantime, Jay keeps me occupied with his stilted view of the world. As you may remember, it was Jay who thought the LDS people in Salt Lake City poisoned Michael Jordan so the Jazz could win game five of the NBA Finals. Now comes this gem.

Tyson, Jay explained, has to do what Don King says. King, in his finite wisdom, figured out that three fights would make more money than one. So King told Tyson to take a dive.

First of all, I argued back, I can't stand Mike Tyson, but he ain't takin a dive for Don King or anybody. Plus, if he were going to take a dive, he'd go down by knockout in an early round. There's no way he would take a nine-round whuppin' like he did.

Jay stuck to that story until Sunday morning. Now the story is that Evander Holyfield deserved to be maimed because his head bumped into Tyson's in a clinch.

Can you imagine, two boxers bumping heads? What are the astronomical odds of that ever happening?

I watched a replay of the fight and it was obvious from the opening bell that Holyfield was going to win again, and that Tyson was not only going to lose again, he was going to get beat up again. The straight right hand that staggered Tyson in the first round was powerful, but what was even more telling was when they were in a clinch and Holyfield literally threw Tyson across the ring. Right then it was evident Holyfield was much stronger and better prepared for the fight than his opponent.

Tyson had to know that, and that's why he snapped. Don't give me any nonsense about the head-butt. The ref saw it, thought it was accidental, and that's that. Even if it had been intentional, that's no reason to bite somebody, not once, but twice.

Tyson's just a bully who got stood up to. He's been exposed many times in his life. First as a thug, then as a wife-beater, then as a criminal, and now as just another freak show in a sport crammed full of them.

He could have been knocked out Saturday and still have been remembered as one of the better heavyweights of all time. Now, his place in history is assured, and it's one of ridicule and revulsion.

Some idiot on TV said the episode "gives boxing a black eye." Please. Boxing has more black eyes than Alfalfa, The Three Stooges, and Nicole Brown Simpson put together.

Boxing will go on, and there will be more of these mega-events. It was reported that nearly two million households ordered the pay-per-view at $50 a pop. However, according to my calculations, only 437 houses actually paid for it. Just about everybody else I know of who watched it owns one of those black boxes. I've been meaning to get one of those, but seeing as how they're illegal and all, I've resisted the temptation. Besides, the mall doesn't have a Black Boxes R Us outlet yet.

Boxing is a stupid, ugly sport, and this late episode is so bizarre, not even fat-mouth Don King could put a spin on it. One thing is for sure: Mike Tyson should never be allowed in the ring again. Which means he should be showing up sometime in early autumn.

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