The answer is simple.
Mike Tyson had a greater impact on popular culture.
In fact Tyson’s impact on mainstream media is probably second only to Muhammad Ali.
So how did he capture the public imagination?
Firstly his aura of invincibility was palpable. The media portrayed him as an uns toppable juggernaut – the ‘baddest man on the planet’.
Mike Tyson WTKO1 Marvis Frazier (1986)
Secondly he didn’t just win, he destroyed opponents. Tyson’s highlight reel is awesome, in particular devastating KO’s of Marvis Frazier, Berbick, Thomas, Biggs, Holmes, Spinks and Bruno.
Mike Tyson WTKO5 Frank Bruno (1989)
Lastly Tyson was intimidating and scary as hell. After stopping Jesse Ferguson with an uppercut he stated…
“I try to catch them on the tip of his nose because I try to punch the bone into the brain.”
After brutalising Olympic gold medal winner Tyrell Biggs over seven rounds in 1987 he said…
“I was hitting him with body punches and I hurt him. Actually he was crying in there making woman gestures like uh uh”
This wasn’t Ali entertaining crowds with wit and humour – this was a bad man punching with very bad intentions.
Would you be afraid to meet the guy below in a dark alley? I know I would.
Tyson was one of the most famous men on earth in the late 80s. He transcended sports to become a pop culture phenomenon.
Evander Holyfield was a wonderful fighter and a famous guy but he never captured the public imagination like ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson.
Very few fighters ever have.