Mike Tyson, once the “Baddest Man on the Planet” and seemingly invincible, tried to break journeyman Kevin McBride’s arm a time or two last night.
Tyson ripped open McBride’s left eye with a deliberately vicious head butt. And when neither tactic could gain him an advantage, Tyson knew the outcome, probably before anybody else. Perhaps because he couldn’t get his teeth near the ears of his 6-foot-6 opponent, Tyson sat on his stool at the end of the sixth round and simply quit.
No mas, no more. There were no extenuating circumstances, no excuses, no injured knee. In fact, Tyson fought with more energy, more skill and more determination than he had displayed in three or four years.
He moved his head, threw those once-lethal left hooks and uppercuts, came out at the start of each round firing for at least the first 30 seconds. And he still got pushed around by McBride. Tyson could barely get to his feet after a push put his butt on the canvas after a fearsome beating at the end of the sixth round.
You could say we should have seen this coming for a while, since he’d already lost to another journeyman named Gary Williams or Bernie Williams or Danny Williams or some such. But he had the bad knee and he hadn’t trained properly, blah, blah, blah. This is a different deal. A rugged man with height and girth, even though not much in the way of dazzle, put Tyson out of his misery last night.
Tyson confirmed after the fight what some folks in the game have known for years. “I just don’t have this in my heart anymore,” he told reporter Jim Gray in the ring. “I’m just fighting to take care of my bills. I don’t have the ferocity. I’m not an animal anymore.”
And when Gray asked if this would be Tyson’s last fight, the former champ said: “Most likely I’m not going to. I’m not going to disrespect the sport anymore by losing to this caliber of fighter. I just don’t have any desire to keep doing this. I’m just sorry to disappoint the people of this city. I wish they could get their money back some kind of way.”
They don’t need their money back. It was worth every dollar, whether spent at the arena or at home via pay-per-view. It was six rounds of nonstop heavyweight action. Even the pushing and shoving and clinching were compelling. It wasn’t vintage Tyson, but he hasn’t been vintage for some time. He couldn’t finish. He would land a blast of a punch, then the big moose would just wrap up Tyson like a birthday present. Between that and literally leaning his 271 pounds on Tyson, who weighed 233, McBride just wore Tyson out.
And that’s when Tyson went first to the swinging elbow, then to the arm-break, then to swinging his head like a battering ram, into the side of McBride’s face. You just knew that if McBride could ignore the blood streaming from the cut, which fortunately for him was underneath and on the side of his eye, he could finish Tyson.
In what amounted to an admission of intentionally resorting to street thuggery in the ring once again, Tyson said he was “a little desperate.”
McBride, remarkably unfazed, said: “That’s the rough tactics of boxing. But I’m a bigger, stronger man. I’m just coming into my prime. I’ve got a lot more to offer boxing now.”
Tyson actually congratulated McBride, and McBride said to Tyson’s face: “Mike, you’re a legend. I appreciate the fight. God bless.”