Friday, January 9, 2009

A Second Look At Holyfield-Tyson

Here is the second part of our look back at the night Evander Holyfield conquered Mike Tyson back in 1996. Two more of the members have chosen to share their memories of that unforgettable night in heavyweight history.

I remember opening the sports section in the LA Times on the morning of November 9, 1996, and seeing a sketch on the front page featuring a gigantic Mike Tyson looking down on a tiny, meek Evander Holyfield. Underneath was an article berating Holyfield as an overachiever with only marginal skills. His time has come, the writer said. This would surely be the end of his career.

While I thought the article was harsh, I couldn't argue with the sketch. In my mind Mike Tyson still had an aura of invincibility. The bitter taste of the Buster Douglas thrashing had long been washed away by the sweet KO streak Tyson was on, albeit over limited competition. After all, this was a 'focused' Mike. The kid that showed up in Japan six years earlier was someone else. And Evander? My last image of him was stumbling to the canvas, the cast iron encased in his jaw finally cracked by a short Bowe right hand. Presumably weakened by a decade of war inside the ring.

Two moments during the bout stripped away that aura for good. One was after the first round bell, when Mike threw a late punch that caught Evander flush. Holyfield immediately responded by popping Mike in the mouth. Tyson walked back to his corner, looking at Evander with a bit of shock in his eyes. He had met a man he was not going to bully. The second was the perfectly timed cross in the 10th round that made Tyson stagger across the ring into the ropes. You would've been hard pressed to find an expert who thought Holyfield could hurt Tyson, and here he nearly decapitated him with one punch. To his credit, Mike stayed on his feet, but the blow effectively ended the fight.

And with that, one man's legend grew tremendously while another man's shrunk; tiny and meek in comparison.

-Michael Nelson

I was probably the least surprised man in the world. I had been talking of Holyfield beating Tyson since before he was even a Heavyweight. It was one of my 100% stone cold locks for years. I wasn't quite as confident as I would have been before Mike went to prison or the Douglas fight, But there still was very little doubt in my mind that Evander is, was and would always be too much man for Mike Tyson.

-Mark Lyons


Andy said...

I was surprised by how the fight played out. I didn't give Holyfield much chance of winning, let alone doing so in such emphatic style. Not because I thought Tyson was invincible, but because I really believed Holyfield was fading. Clearly, I was way off.