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When Validation lacks Validity
By Frank J. Lotierzo
ESPN radio 1490 "Toe to Toe"
Hey, are you going to the big fight ? What big fight ! Can't be Ali-Frazier l because that was the biggest fight. No not that one. Oh you mean Leonard-Hearns, no not that one . Oh you must mean Pryor-Arguello, no not that one either. I'll give you a hint: by today's standards it's a big fight and it's not Hopkins-Trinidad. Still don't know ? Maybe this will help. Fighter X was knocked out eight years ago by one punch delivered courtesy of a tough journeyman, and knocked out by one punch last year by a glorified journeyman. Fighter Y was knocked out twelve years ago by an in-shape journeymen, then followed up that six years later by getting knocked out by a former great who had to get clearance from the Mayo Clinic. The following year he fought the same former great champion but didn't get knocked out that time. He quit before he was knocked out . Oh I know what fight you are talking about,it must be Lewis-Tyson. Yes that is the fight. Is that really a big fight ? Yes, by today's standards it's world war three! Those are the credentials that fighters can have today which constitutes a major PPV fight.
Most of the hard core fight fans and top boxing scribes are really pumped up for Lewis-Tyson. Yes, it is Lewis-Tyson, not Tyson-Lewis because Lewis is still Heavyweight Champion. There is talk by those just mentioned that the winner of this bout will have validated himself as one of the all-time great heavyweight champions. What a myth that is. Regardless of who wins or how decisive, I wish this fight would never come off. It tires me just anticipating how many times I will have to explain this very simple equation. If you think that either Lewis or Tyson should have their mug atop boxing's version of Mount Rushmore, you better put that drink down and tip the bartender before asking him to call a cab to take you home! Here's the problem. If you don't think that Lewis or Tyson's mug is already on boxings highest mountain top before their hands are wrapped gloves tied and have made the traditional ring entrance, then a win in this fight should not be the launching pad.
Of course, a Lewis-Tyson Fight is not guaranteed. It's 64 days away as of this writing. Let's just say the fight happens and Lewis demolishes Tyson the way Hearns did Cuaves. Big deal ! So he Ko'd a fighter who was not only the youngest to become Heavyweight Champion, but also the youngest to become a former Heavyweight Champion. Yes, that would be the Buster Douglas fight, twelve years ago. Don't tell me Tyson lost because he was out of shape. If I said to you before the fight that Douglas is in the best shape of his life and Tyson is in the worst shape of his career, would you have picked Douglas to knock out Tyson? No way would you pick the 42 to 1 underdog Douglas. If Tyson was so out of shape, how did he drop Douglas in the eighth round after taking a beating for the first seven and three quarter rounds? No excuse here, he got battered. Six years later he was beaten by former Heavyweight Champ Evander Holyfield who was coming off the two worst fights of his career, ( being Ko'd by Bowe in their third fight and having life and death trying to floor former middleweight Bobby Czyz ).
We all know that Tyson only agreed to fight Holyfield because he appeared to be a dead man walking. I don't want hear Tyson was more spent than Holyfield, lest we forget Holyfield is four years older and has taken much more punishment throughout his career. Tyson will have everything that he's wanted, a win over Holyfield to put on his record. Even a shot Holyfield will do. Tyson is no dummy. He knows no one will say it was a shot Holyfield, they'll just know Tyson beat Holyfield. He couldn't be more wrong if he tried. Not only does Holyfield put him down in round six, he kicks his ass for ten rounds before stopping him in round eleven. Seven months later after one postponement they meet again. Once again, Tyson can't fall back on the excuse that he took Holyfield lightly. For two rounds, as in the first fight, Holyfield is getting the better of it . Tyson feels it is only a matter of rounds before he is stopped a second time by Holyfield. As I said Tyson is no dummy. In the middle of the third round Tyson crys to referee Mills Lane that Holyfield is butting him. How bout that, the dirtiest fighting Heavyweight Champion of all time is pleading with the ref about the bully Evander Holyfield.
When Lane doesn't fall for it Tyson now is desperate to find a way out. What does the baddest man on the planet do? he bites Holyfield's ear. After a firm warning from Lane who tells him he will DQ him if he does it again,what does Iron Mike do the next time they clinch? He bites again! Fight Over ! Holyfield - Tyson fought in 1996 and 1997. Since Holyfield ll, Tyson hasn't fought anyone worth the paper on which this is written. So, you tell me why Lennox Lewis would secure his mug on boxing's Mount Rushmore by beating Tyson. He only accomplish beating a fighter who was Ko'd twelve years ago by a journeyman, and was stopped by a fading former champ six years later. Oh yes, they did fight again, and as I said, Tyson is no dummy. He quit before he was stopped. So you try and tell me how Lewis validates himself with a victory over Tyson. It's not like it's never happened before. This isn't Ali over Liston, or Frazier over Ali, and it is certainly not Foreman over Frazier. It's just Lewis over Tyson. Been there done that. Some Validation !
What if the fight goes the other way? What if Tyson beats Lewis as Hagler beat Hearns. Big deal! So he stopped a fighter who will probably be remembered for possessing the softest chin since Floyd Patterson. But Floyd at least had a real excuse, he was a small heavyweight. Lewis can't say that, not when you're 6'5" and over 240 lbs. How many former Heavyweight Champions can you think of who lost their title by one punch, not once but twice ! Not an easy task to even come up with another. And it's not like he was hit by Joe Louis of 1937 or George Foreman of 1973. It was Oliver Mcall, a tough journeyman. Try and come up with a name heavyweight he beat that would be considered a third tier heavyweight other than Lewis. This is the same Oliver Mcall who less than a year later won a disputed decision, I mean a really disputed decision, over Larry Holmes. Would be a heck of a feat if Holmes wasn't 45 years old. Think about that one ! Mcall knocks out Lennox Lewis in two rounds and in his next fight is taken twelve rounds to a disputed decision victory over an old Holmes. What this says is that the 28 year old Lewis is counted out in two rounds by the same fighter who in his next fight can only win a disputed decision over the 45 year old Holmes. What would Holmes in his prime have done to Lewis. It's a scary thought. Just in case you forgot, Mcall's one punch knockout of Lewis was just eight years ago. I must mention that Lewis did exact some revenge over Mcall. Remember that fight, when Mcall walked in to the ring crying because he was in the ring instead of a drug rehab? Tell me the monumental feat Tyson will achieve with a knockout over Lewis, and we're not done yet. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Lewis Ko'd by some guy named Haseem Rachman last year ?
Oh I almost forgot, as hard as this is to believe it was also by one punch. As I said Tyson is no dummy. When Lewis goes he really goes. The ref better have ten fingers and maybe at least five toes when he's called for a Lewis fight. Wasn't this Rachman guy knocked out and out of the ring by the Russian bear Oleg Maskaev? Yeah he's the one. It must be said however that Lewis did repay Rachman by knocking him out in the rematch. Lewis, unlike Tyson, gets the W the second time around with his conqueror however, we can't dismiss Lewis being Ko'd for the ten count last year. So what does a knockout of Lewis by Tyson prove? It's not like it hasn't been done before. It was done eight years ago, and also just last year. What Tyson will prove is that he can knockout a fighter that was Ko'd by Mcall eight years ago, and a fighter who was knocked out last year by Rachman. Once again, it's not like Tyson would be stopping an Ali or a Foreman or Frazier. Come on, George Chuvalo and Tex Cobb on their worst day go the entire distance with Mcall and Rachman. But Lewis didn't !
Here's the problem with trying to build a case for the Mount Rushmore of boxing. What is the earth shattering accomplishment?. Lewis was Ko'd eight years ago by Mcall, and just last year by Rachman. A Tyson Victory would be no big deal. Same with Lewis, a victory would confirm that he knocked out the same guy that Buster Douglas did twelve years ago, and a washed up Holyfield did six years ago. If people thought Holyfield beat a shell of a Tyson, which he didn't,what's the news if Lewis beats Tyson six years after Holyfield? All this will tell us is that Lennox Lewis beat Mike Tyson. It's been done. If you think that the victor in the Lewis - Tyson fight validates an all time top ten ranking, You haven't been following the fight game long enough, or you just don't know what your watching. Or you can say you stayed at the bar too long and you were debating Jack Daniels. Some validation Mr Lewis and Mr. Tyson. If you're starved for validation, go to your fight films and play anyone of the following tapes !
Frazier defeating the undefeated Ali in Super Fight l Foreman defeating the undefeated Frazier in Jamaica Ali defeating the Undefeated Foreman "In the Rumble in the jungle" Duran defeating the undefeated Leonard "in the Brawl for it all" Leonard defeating the Undefeated Hearns "In The Showdown" Hopkins defeating the Undefeated Trinidad
These are signature fights which validate true greatness. Lewis - Tyson should never make this list !!
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