Tyson Refuses to Answer Bell in Shocking Defeat
Loss to McBride Might Mean End of Boxer's Comeback Attempts
WASHINGTON (June 11) - The end came for Mike Tyson while he was sitting on a stool. The fighter who was once the baddest man on the planet wanted no more.
Looking more like a pathetic, aging fighter than the man who once terrorized the heavyweight division, Tyson's career more than likely ended Saturday night when he quit after the sixth round after desperately trying to foul his way to a win against Kevin McBride.
Nineteen years after he became the youngest heavyweight champion ever, Tyson's stamina, speed and ring skills weren't even enough to beat an Irish journeyman who has never beaten a heavyweight of any note.
"I don't have the stomach for this anymore," Tyson said. "I most likely won't fight anymore. I'm not going to disrespect the sport by losing to this caliber of fighters."
The sixth round was bizarre even by the standards of a fighter once banned from boxing for biting Evander Holyfield's ears.
Tyson tried to break McBride's arm in the final round, then tried to hit him low. When all else failed he aimed his head at McBride's forehead, butting him and opening a cut next to his left eye.
"I was desperate," Tyson said. "I wanted to win."
When the round ended, though, it wasn't McBride who was in trouble. It was Tyson, pushed to the canvas by his 6-foot-5, 271-pound opponent, with his head stuck between the ropes. Tyson seemed barely able to get up and, when he did, he wobbled to his corner and sat on the stool for one last final time.
"I felt like I was 120 years old," Tyson said.
Trainer Jeff Fenech stroked Tyson's face as referee Joe Cortez came by to ask if he wanted to continue. Tyson didn't, likely bringing an end to a career that began in such spectacular fashion but flamed out amid Tyson's inability to deal with the pressures of being in the spotlight.
Tyson sat on his stool blankly watching McBride's celebration, a white towel draped over his shoulder. When he got up to congratulate his opponent, McBride kissed him on the left cheek.
"I could have gone on but I thought I was getting beat," Tyson said. "I don't think I have it anymore."
It was the third loss in the last four fights for Tyson, who was trying to fight his way out of $40 million in debt and back into contention in a wide open heavyweight division. But, just as he did against Danny Williams last July, he faded badly as the rounds went on and tried to resort to street fouls to turn the tide against McBride.
Tyson was winning, ahead 57-55 on two scorecards and behind by the same score on a third when he quit But the fight had clearly changed and McBride had taken over and it only figured to get uglier as it went on.
The Associated Press had the fight even, 56-56.
"You're smart too late and old too soon," Tyson said. "I just got caught up in that suction cup. I feel like Rip Van Winkle right now."
The 38-year-old Tyson was a huge favorite over McBride and won the early rounds, landing some big punches to the body and head that didn't seem to have much of an effect on McBride. But as the fight went on, it was McBride landing the bigger punches as Tyson desperately tried to score a knockout.
Tyson was weary by the fifth round and, in the sixth, he was taking punishment from McBride. He tried to get back in the fight by hitting McBride with low blows, then appeared to try to break his arm, much as he once did against Francois Botha.
Cortez warned Tyson after he grabbed McBride's arm, telling him "I don't want any more fighting with the arms, understand?"
When the action resumed, Tyson then head-butted McBride, forcing Cortez to stop the fight briefly to allow McBride to recover and to penalize Tyson two points.
"He tried to break my arm and he butted me," McBride said. "That's the rough stuff in boxing."
In a career filled with tremendous highs and terrible lows, Tyson reached a new low in the loss to McBride, who came into the fight with no credentials.
Tyson (50-6) was a shell of the fighter he once was, throwing wild punches and trying to knock out McBride with each shot. But McBride (33-4-1) took the punches and came back with some of his own and Tyson gradually began wearing down.
"It was the opportunity of a lifetime," McBride said.
Tyson was tentative in the early going, showing little of the aggressiveness that once made him a feared fighter. McBride stood right in front of him, but Tyson was content to land only one punch at a time, perhaps remembering how he ran out of gas in his previous fights.
"There's no rush," said after the first round.
But it turned out there was a rush as Tyson faded just as he did against Williams. That loss was blamed on torn cartilage in Tyson's leg, but it was clear even to the pro-Tyson crowd of 15,472 at the MCI Center on this night that Tyson was a shot fighter.
McBride towered over Tyson and weighed 38 pounds more than the former champion. But he had been knocked out four times by lesser fighters and wasn't expected to give Tyson much of a fight.
"This win was for the pride of Ireland," McBride said. "I proved everyone wrong tonight."
Tyson got some prefight guidance from Muhammad Ali, who visited him in the dressing room. But even The Greatest couldn't do anything for the conditioning and reflexes of a fighter who really hasn't beaten a top heavyweight since he defeated Razor Ruddock 14 years ago.
Tyson was paid $5 million for the fight, which was on the low end of purses he has made in his career. After his creditors got $2 million, the IRS got its cut and his ex-wife got $750,000, so there wasn't much left for the fighter.
Tyson still owes nearly $40 million and there were plans for him to fight up to seven times to pay off the debt. But those plans didn't include Tyson taking the kind of beating that McBride was beginning to administer to him in the fifth and sixth rounds.
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Somehow, I don't think we've heard the last of Mike Tyson.