|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire -- JULY 29:2001|
Slow, Fat Tyson defeats Slower, Fatter Nielsen|
by Chris Bushnell
Mike Tyson's 3rd Annual Public Workout was held this weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark. There was some concern leading up to the big exhibition that Tyson was completely unprepared, evidenced by his scaling 239 lbs., or 16 more than his previous high. Luckily for Team Tyson, Mike was paired with Brian Nielsen, a fighter fatter, slower, and even closer to retirement than himself. Nielsen, whose 62-1 record was more padded than Butterbean's, was perhaps best known for losing to a geriatric Larry Holmes (even though Danish judges gave him a bogus decision) and giving up against heavyweight powerhouse Dickie Ryan. He was no match for Tyson... even the slow, plodding, barely-interested-in-his-career Mike Tyson. Make no mistake: this is not a fight that you'll be telling your grandchildren about.
It would be unfair to call Tyson-Nielsen a sparring session. In sparring sessions, both opponents throw punches. This was more like a heavybag workout, although Nielsen was a little larger than the typical Everlast. A few moments after the opening bell, Nielsen backed himself into a corner and raised his gloves in front of his face. Tyson gamely went through his workout drills, firings a dozen flush body shots at the pasty slabs of fat that hung around Nielsen's ribcage. As Tyson fired the hooks from each side, he'd occasionally mix in an uppercut, giving fans a glimpse of the combination Tyson frequently knocked out opponents with in the late 1980s.
Eventually Nielsen initiated a clinch, and briefly stopped Tyson's barrage. But a few seconds after a break, Tyson slowly came forward and Nielsen again retreated to the ropes, covered up, and absorbed punishment. Fans of Iron Mike will point to these moments as evidence of his prowess, but he wasn't getting any resistance. Nielsen rarely threw a punch in return, except for a few times each round when, in a clinch, Nielsen would literally tap Tyson's forehead with an open glove.
The extra pounds radically alter Tyson's physique. For the most part, he looked as muscular as normal. But his handspeed has diminished, his head movement was simply a rumor, and his stamina has become a joke. Tyson's raw aggression evaporated in the second round as the former Baddest Man on the Planet patiently stalked Nielsen. Tyson's offense consisted mainly of one and two punch bombing missions. Nielsen's defense did an adequate job of partially blocking head shots, and after missing a few solitary attempts upstairs, Tyson would return to the body, a target he couldn't miss with his eyes closed. Tyson did manage one good right hand to Nielsen's mug in the final seconds of this round, and after landing the punch, blood poured from a two inch gash on Nielsen's left eyelid.
Against any other fighter, Tyson would have been in trouble. He telegraphed his big punches, followed his opponent around by casually walking right up to him, and showed that he still doesn't have an answer for when someone ties him up and walks him down. But Brian Nielsen was chosen for a reason: he telegraphs his punches even more than Tyson, he doesn't have any power when he does land, and, well, he mainly just stands there. Tyson plodded through the third round, firing power shots at will while Nielsen lazily bounced off the ropes and made faces to the crowd. Some of the power shots were blocked, but a few found their way through. Included in the latter category was a Tyson left hook thrown with 30 seconds remaining in the third. The punch clipped Nielsen's chin, freezing him in place for the Tyson right that immediately followed. The right landed flush and pushed Nielsen's face into the oncoming path of yet another left hook. This hook was the best punch of the night, impacting at the base of Nielsen's jaw. It shook the Danish fighter's body from head to toe and after taking two steps backwards on his heels, Super-Brian collapsed into the ropes. It was the first time Nielsen had ever been knocked down, and it provided a brief moment of excitement in an otherwise dull bout.
Nielsen, who had every reason to stay seated, pulled himself up and beat the count. There were only a few seconds remaining, but Tyson was able to follow-up with another bullseye left hook to the chin and a ballseye left uppercut to Nielsen's cup. The low blow came at the bell to end the third, but Nielsen didn't hear it. He was too busy crying out in pain and stumbling across the ring to his corner, in which he collapsed. Nielsen was given up to five minutes to recover, and used a full minute after the normal 60-second break. The extra time only seemed to aid Tyson, who looked like he needed the rest as much as Nielsen.
The fight was a farce through three, but the fourth really took the cake. Nielsen didn't even land a punch on Tyson (unless you could three successive taps on the head in a clinch) in this round, although he rarely even tried to. Mostly, Nielsen was content to circle away from Tyson, occasionally eat a few wild bombs, and then initiate an ugly clinch. One of the biggest clues to Tyson's lack of conditioning, aside from a diminished punch output after a single round, was the ease in which Nielsen was able to tie him up. Over and over, Nielsen would heave forward his shoulders and drape his arms over Tyson's. He would then walk forward, easily pushing Tyson across the ring, and away from referee Steve Smoger, who needed a few seconds to catch up and call for a break.
This deadly pace continued into the fifth, the sole difference being that Nielsen actually landed a few blow on Tyson in this round. To call these shots punches, or even slaps, would be praise. Mostly Nielsen would wildly fling forward an arm as though he were shooing a fly away. Even when Tyson walked right into these punches, they simply bounced off his head. Still, Tyson couldn't put him away.
Tyson's corner had been asking for a jab all night long, and Tyson ignored that advice in the sixth as he had in each of the previous rounds. But who needs a gameplan when the opponent is simply a breathing mannequin? Tyson did, however, throw punches in twos and threes in the sixth, and a few times he saw the benefits when his first punch missed and a follow-up landed. Twice Tyson missed with lead left uppercuts only to chop Nielsen down with heavy right crosses. A third clean right hand in the sixth re-opened Nielsen's cut, and a fourth landed hard right before the bell. Those punches must have hurt, because Nielsen decided that he was done.
After the one-minute break, Nielsen's cut had again stopped bleeding. But the Dane claimed that he could not see from the eye. After Steve Smoger reminded Nielsen that quitting would lead to a TKO loss, Nielsen twice confirmed his resignation. Tyson, a winner by TKO6, looked confused, and barely smiled when he was hoisted up by his celebrating cornermen.
After the fight, a subdued Tyson (now 49-3-2nc/43) asked Shelley Finkel if he had done a good job. Finkel, and about five others, immediately began praising Tyson's performance, but the former champ seemed to know that this was not his best night. Inactivity and age have caught up with Mike Tyson, and he can no longer execute as he once did. His supporters, and there are many, will point to Tyson's head-snapping power shots from this bout and declare him ready for the Rahman-Lewis winner. But even Tyson claimed that he needed "probably two more fights" before stepping up to face a bonafide champion. Indeed, Tyson has a lot of work to do before he steps up against an opponent who might fight back, let alone a Top Ten contender, let alone the heavyweight champion. His head movement, which made a brief return in bouts against Francis and Golota, was nowhere to be seen. His stamina needs an overhaul. Even his power could not help him this night. A young Mike Tyson wouldn't have even been able to use someone like Brian Nielsen as a sparring partner. The pushing-40 Mike Tyson chugged through six boring rounds with Nielsen, and would have probably gone six more had Nielsen not quit on his stool. Mike Tyson may not be shot, but he's damn close.
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