Tough Fights and the Heavyweight Elite: Why Mike Tyson Didn’t Crack the Top Five, According to David Haye


David Haye excludes Mike Tyson from his top five greatest heavyweights list, citing concerns about Tyson’s mental strength and the absence of grueling contests in his career.

Despite Mike Tyson’s significant achievements in the sport, including victories over notable opponents like Larry Holmes, Trevor Berbick, Frank Bruno, and Michael Spinks, Haye believes that Tyson’s limited experience of coming from behind to win doesn’t qualify him to be considered among the division’s greatest. Tyson’s career, spanning an impressive 20 years, still falls short of making Haye’s list due to these considerations.

During an episode of BBC’s Costello and Bunce podcast, David Haye elaborated on his reasons for not including Mike Tyson in his top five greatest heavyweights list. He questioned Tyson’s ability to overcome challenging situations in fights, emphasizing the lack of instances where Tyson was behind on points, got knocked down, or faced adversity and managed to come back and win.


Haye raised the hypothetical scenario of Tyson facing the legendary Muhammad Ali. He questioned whether Tyson would be able to handle Ali’s boxing skills, tactics, and mental games if Ali outboxed him, made him miss, and wore him down. Haye expressed skepticism about Tyson’s mental capacity and fortitude to navigate through such tough situations, as he believed Tyson tended to struggle when faced with adversity.

Haye cited some examples to support his argument, mentioning Tyson’s losses to Buster Douglas, Holyfield (twice), and even his defeat against Danny Williams when Tyson was in a decline. He acknowledged that even though Williams was not at the peak of his career at that time, Tyson still struggled to overcome the challenge.


In his assessment, David Haye highlighted that fighters like Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis have experienced tough fights where they were on the brink of losing but found a way to come back and win. However, he expressed that he has never seen Mike Tyson in a similar situation, which influences his decision not to include Tyson in the top five greatest heavyweights of all time.


In a tweet from 2020, Haye shared his top 10 heavyweight fighters of all time, ranking Mike Tyson at number six. The top five positions were occupied by Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, and Larry Holmes.

Mike Tyson retired from boxing in 2005 with an impressive record of 50 wins and 6 losses. Notably, in 1986, he became the youngest-ever heavyweight champion at the age of 20 years and 145 days, a record that remains unbroken. Tyson was renowned for his aggressive inside fighting style and gained notoriety for his controversial behavior both inside and outside the ring.

His remarkable knockout-to-win percentage of 88% earned him the 16th spot on the Ring Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest punchers of all time, which is one of the highest percentages across all weight classes in the history of the sport.


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