The key ingredients to a major PPV event are simple. Put a compelling match up in the main event, one where the winner is hard to choose and both guys have media crossover appeal. Or you can have a fighter so popular that people will pay to see fight no matter who they fight, such as Oscar De La Hoya. The third way to have a major PPV event is to have Mike Tyson fight in the main event. Mike Tyson, a fighter who has not held a world title for almost 9 years. Yet Mike will be fighting Kevin McBride on June 11 on PPV for a guaranteed $6 million. Mike Tyson has been in the spotlight his entire career. As the youngest heavyweight champion, it would take Tyson only one year and eight months to reach the top. The young Mike Tyson was loved for his ability to tear through opponents and for cleaning up the mess of the heavyweight division. Video games, action figures, commercials, Tyson was on top of the world. And the world loved Mike Tyson.
Behind the scenes of Mike Tyson’s storybook rise were several hardships. He had failed marriage to Robin Givens where he was accused of spousal abuse in the media. Tyson was in car accidents portrayed as suicide attempts, fights at nightclubs and accusations of harassing women at the nightclubs. All of these were initially viewed as attempts to cash in on his celebrity fame. As it would come to pass these incidents would eventually show a pattern in Tyson’s way of life.
As everyone knows Mike was convicted of rape and went to prison from 1992 to 1995. When Tyson was released from prison, his popularity was at an all time high. The media and fans all believed Mike would comeback and reclaim the heavyweight division and walk through everyone like the Tyson of old. At first he did just that, beating McNeeley, Mathis, Bruno and Seldon with ease. Mike would then fight what many thought was a token fight against Evander Holyfield.
After getting knocked out by Riddick Bowe and looking sluggish against Bobby Czyz, many thought it was a huge mismatch for Holyfield to fight Mike Tyson. Everyone ended up being wrong and Holyfield would take the fight to Tyson, stopping him in 11. Many believed it to be a farce, an off night for Tyson. So much so, Tyson’s reputation was not damaged and he was picked to win the rematch. In the rematch Tyson would deal out the final blow, one in which many believed would be the end of Mike Tyson. Yes, it is the infamous ear-biting incident. This would be the blow that finally painted Tyson as the villain.
Feeding off of the publicity of his three million dollar snack, Tyson was able to make millions fighting mostly B-rated fighters. Most fans wanted to see what he will do next, either in the ring or out of it. His in ring antics has included trying to break opponent’s arms while clinching, knocking down a referee to continue hitting Lou Savarese, and knocking Orlin Norris after the bell. He continually gets in fights at press conferences, yells at the media and into the camera like a comic book villain. He is quoted by the media for saying he’s going to eat Lennox Lewis’ children, or that he wishes he did rape Desiree Washington now since he had to pay the consequence for the crime. He is in the news for getting arrested for a bar fight, allegedly assaulting women or getting in a car accident. Now these things are reported by the media as another chapter in the bizarre life of Mike Tyson. Yes, Mike Tyson’s life and career since the rematch with Holyfield is a piece of work.
Despite fighting mostly B-level opposition, Tyson is still making millions per fight. And now several members of the media and boxing fans are starting to come around and believe that Mike Tyson can once again rule the heavyweight division. Mike Tyson’s career looked to be over in the first round of the Holyfield rematch. Yet eight years after, he is the one that is still a PPV star and considered to regain his past glory. Knowing that Tyson is a big pro wrestling fan and looking at his career, it seems as though he knew his role in the ring and media. Fans were no longer going to look at him as the hero of old, that they would despise him. And Tyson has played his role absolutely perfectly. For years following the bite incident, the boxing establishment has dubbed him as a superstar, love him or hate him.
Tyson’s next defining moment was in his effort to regain the heavyweight championship against Lennox Lewis. As he stood in the ring with another heavyweight legend, Tyson continued to come forward, with his face cut and bloody, taking punch after punch. Most wouldn’t blame him if he went down and stayed down much sooner, nonetheless, Tyson kept coming until he was knock out. He took that beating like a man, and afterwards showed compassion for his family and for Lennox, even saying he loved the man that dealt out the beating of his life.
Tyson has fought twice since, one knocking out then contender Clifford Etienne, and then losing in another courageous effort against Danny Williams where Tyson injured his knee in the first round. Tyson would fight on until he was finally stopped in the fourth round of a fight that was more entertaining than was expected.
Tyson’s career has come around full circle. He is looked at more or less as a dark hero. The fighter worth cheering for due to his never quit mentality and the potential for a spectacular knock out. No longer are people watching him for the next ring antic, or merely to see him lose. He is a hope to many. With the heavyweight division in pieces, much like when Mike cleaned it up eighteen years ago, many cling to Tyson to pull it all back together. With Tyson being the biggest draw in boxing, don’t be surprised if he gets one more opportunity to do so.
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