Fantasy fights will become a regular feature to TopClassBoxing where every week we ask the fight fans the age old question of peak vs peak who would win between some of the sports greatest. This week we started the ball rolling with one of the most talked about in Mike Tyson vs Muhammad Ali:
Paul Daley – Whenever the words Fantasy Fight are brought up into conversation it is usual followed by “Who would win a fight between a prime Mike Tyson versus a prime Muhammad Ali?” to which my reply as always been the same, Ali outpoints him. Mike was devastating at his best, he ripped world title after world title from previous champions until he was the only man standing at the top run of the ladder, many said he was unbeatable but even Superman had his kryptonite and James Buster Douglas showed the world that Mike could be out boxed using primarily a jab, this is something Ali had down to a fine art. the self proclaimed Greatest of All Time flowed like water, his style was effortless but behind the physical prowess was an extremely clever man who could change his style to suit the opponent. Never have we or I doubt will ever see a better heavyweight than Muhammad which is why for me personally he beats, frustrates and boxes circles around Tyson for the duration of the contest which would have been mirrored on a unanimous decision from the judges..
Alex Marasco – The ultimate fantasy fight, when you think of fights that you would like to make between fighters in history then this is always the big one. The classic match up of speed and boxing skill vs power and ferociousness.
Muhammad Ali is in my opinion the greatest Heavyweight to ever grace the planet. His tremendous hand speed and dazzling footwork is the likes of which we have never seen in a heavyweight before or since. The classic fights between Ali and Frazier, Foreman, Norton etc are truly immortal and timeless. When i was young, I was brought up watching these fights instead of the usual disney or cartoon films. It has always been instilled in me that not only did Ali say he was the greatest, he really was. In time i backed this up with my own evidence having watched and picked apart the great man’s fights.
I would take Muhammad’s prime when he was a very young man in his early 20s, perhaps even when he was known under his so called “slave name” of Cassius Clay. To me back then, nobody would ever come close to the brash young man from Louisville.
“Iron” Mike Tyson, was without a doubt the baddest man on the planet. A genuine legend of boxing and perhaps one of the most recognizable names the sport has ever boasted, Mike made his name ripping his way through the Heavyweight division. The first fight i ever watched of his was his demolition of the at the time current Ring Magazine fighter of the year, Michael Spinks. Mike had a brilliant Frazier-esque upper body movement style and liked to come back with massive shots on his way back up. At one point there seemed there was nobody that could take his power. However, in my opinion he heavily relied on beating his opponents before they got in the ring with him. When he came up against a man that wasn’t afraid of him, namely Evander Holyfield, he was never going to win. I genuinely believe Tyson is a legend of boxing but would never have beat Holyfield or his long term rival, Lennox Lewis. Mainly because he was a one dimensional fighter, taking on men that had a lot more to their game.
IF the fight had ever happened with both men in their prime, you would have to worry about Ali, due to the frightening one punch power Mike possessed. However, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the Louisville lip would have danced rings around Tyson, been at least twice as fast with both his hands and his feet and either forced a stoppage or won a wide points decision. Ali was also a lot fitter than Mike, having had to go 15 rounds many times in his career. Both men are legends but for me, Muhammad Ali by unanimous decision.
James Harte – It is never fair to compare different eras. How can you compare two boxers who have never shared a common opponent? As generations change, so do the standards. When a champion falls, he isn’t always replaced with a superior version. Sometimes though they are much superior.
So how do you begin to compare somebody often considered the greatest heavyweight ever to lace up the gloves to one considered one of the most fearsome and intimidating?
One took on a practical ‘murderers row’ of punchers, faced adversity on many occasions and was blessed with rhythm, movement and attitude and stoked the emotions of the world.
The other, carved through a talent starved pack of heavyweights in devastating fashion, is the antagonist in many highlight reel knockouts and has often shocked the world with his actions inside the ring.
It is one of the most talked about fantasy match-ups in boxing, but Muhammad Ali vs Mike Tyson really would be high up on most fight fans lists.
There is little not known about either. Ali took up boxing after having his bicycle stolen as a school boy, and promising to “whup” the man who stole it. He scalped a gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games. As a 22 year-old, he shook up the world humiliating Sonny Liston in six rounds and forcing him to quit on his school. A historic career then took off.
Tyson’s youth is well documented. After spending time on the streets of Brooklyn, the man who would beat up and mug old women fell into the hands of boxing guru Cus D’Mato. In D’Mato, he found a father figure, and also one who had enough influence with the local police authorities to be able to get various infringements with the law swept under the carpet. Tyson was groomed in the Catskille Mountains and after losing to Tyrell Biggs at the Olympic trials, cut a swathe through a division badly reeling from a lack of talent and demolished Trevor Berbick in two rounds to become the youngest man ever to capture the heavyweight title. D’Mato had always believed that Tyson would become the youngest heavyweight champion (taking over from Floyd Patterson, also a D’Mato trained fighter) but sadly was no longer alive by the time Tyson won it.
When it comes to styles and temperament, these two could not be more different. Ali was often described as poetry in motion. He did a lot of things in an unconventional manner, and some even plain wrong – but he always had the guile to get away with it. In the ring he would talk to people, tell them they couldn’t hit etc.
Tyson was a beast in his early days, he would force his way forward behind a tight guard before letting go with fast, powerful shots that would literally knock opponents senseless. But his temperament was badly flawed. If things weren’t going his way – he would get distracted. He would begin to look elsewhere for ways to gain an advantage, resorting to any means necessary.
When evaluating their fight, you’re probably better off reading Psychology for Dummies than you are notes from any of their bouts.
In my opinion, Tyson had the speed of hand and foot (not to mention the size) to get to Ali early. Probably even have him on the floor once of twice. But Ali was never one to go down easily. If you put him in with a bully, you would often get the best out of him.
After about four rounds of chasing Ali around the ring and his success beginning to dip, I think Tyson would begin to doubt himself (see fights with Evander Holyfield II, Frans Botha, Brian Nielsen) and begin to lose his temper. This would intensify with Ali jawing at him after every attack, laughing at his pounces and telling him he hits like a girl.
In his prime, it’s doubtful Tyson would have quit or perhaps even fouled his way out (he did both later in his career) but Ali’s speedy clusters would probably have opened nicks around his eyes. I believe that around the eighth/ ninth round, we would be looking at a pretty dispirited being in Tyson. Nobody will ever question his power, or speed of his youth – they were special. But how many times did we see him have to dig deep and win a fight? Ali came “the closest he has to dying” in seeing off somebody only slightly in the Tyson mould in Joe Frazier in the Thriller in Manilla. And while Frazier didn’t have the speed or power of Tyson, his temperament was much more reliable.
I feel that after nine rounds, Ali would be well and truly in the driving seat. He would have eradicated any points deficit and would either dance his way to a victory in the final rounds, or would find glory in pummelling yet another bully into a stoppage defeat that would have the world gasping once again.
He told you, he shook up the world!
Tim Ellis – In a famous fight of the ages between Muhammad Ali & Mike Tyson I’d imagine Ali sticking out that famous jab early, dancing around trying to stay away from any of Iron Mike’s punches which came from anywhere and everywhere that were some of the most vicious punches of all time. It would of been a very competitive fight early but if Mike was unable to catch Ali early I’d pick Ali to stay out of trouble and box his way to a UD victory using his more overall skill set.
Jamie Bourne – Muhammad Ali would have beaten Mike Tyson because he had the more experience and he beat the better caliber of fighters. Ali always found a way to win, just like he did against George Foreman. I think he would have won this one on points.
Tony Nash – For me Mike Tyson would have to finish it in 1st 5/6 rds after that Muhammad Ali would frustrate him, hitting and moving. If Ali Avoid’s the power early he takes a points win
@number2snake – They say styles make fights, well there couldn’t be two more differently styled opponents then Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. In one corner you have a sleek, slim, boxer, who is known for his matrix-like defense and an uncanny ability to psyche an opponent out mentally in and out of the ring. In the other corner you have a stout, heavily muscled bruiser, who’s main weapons were power, and speed, but mostly verbal and physical intimidation . Two men on complete opposite sides of the spectrum and yet both owned the heavyweight division in their respective eras. Both fighters also have an erie similarity, no one has ever seen neither boxer in their prime. Ali for failing to answer his civic duty and dodging the draft, and Tyson served time for a rape conviction. Putting their personal lives aside and looking at what they have done in the ring, I was posed a question; Who do I Think Would Win a Fight Between Ali and Tyson??!! After much thought I believe Ali would have beaten Mike Tyson. Mind you I grew up to IRON Mike tearing through the heavyweight division in the 80’s. I seen boxers scared out of their wits before even entering the ring, and yet I still have to give the edge to Ali! Think about it do you think you were gonna scare a Militant Black Muslim with a line like “I want to step on your babies testicles?” Ali would have gotten under Mike’s skin way before fight night. I could see Tyson coming out swinging for the rafters, and Ali smiling, yelling at Mike after Tyson’s every miss. What would be real danger for Tyson though if he fought Ali?? ALI’s Jab, Mike never did well against an elite fighter who possessed a jab, and it doesn’t get more elite then Ali!! To those who say that Ali would not be able to handle Tyson’s punch, I will name 3 of the heaviest punchers in the history of boxing, Liston, Foreman, Frazier. All Heavy Handed, all connected flush on Ali, none knocked him out.. I have respect for the puncher, and a punchers chance.. So I calculated If Ali fought Tyson 10 times I see Ali winning 8 out of those 10 times. I Love Tyson, but he was to unstable to ever handle a mind fucker like Ali!!
Nick Jones – As always Tyson would be coming forward with his bobbing and weaving style, trying to get under and counter the long Ali jabs and straights. I could see him looking to attack the body of Ali, trying to corner him and slow him down. Ali would be fighting off the jab, being very slick and using the whole ring to avoid the early Tyson onslaught. However, Ali would never back away from a fight and at times would look to trade, but still trying to keep Tyson out of range and then moving away quickly. During the first half of the fight Tyson would always be very dangerous and it would be interesting to see what would have happened if he was able to land one of his overhand hooks and test Ali’s chin. I just believe that Ali would be too fast and ring smart for Tyson and once into the second half of the fight he would not slow down to the same extent as Tyson would. At this point Ali would be able to really use his range of skills against a struggling opponent, who would be looking for the one punch knockout. My prediction would be a confident Ali shuffle by the seventh and a win by stoppage, between the eighth and tenth round.
Sam C Coulter – This is a topic which I myself have pondered over before coming to different conclusions at different points in time. I am now fully convinced in my opinion on who would be victorious in one of the most glittering of all fantasy match-ups between the heavyweight greats Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.
For the sake of this piece I will look to assess both fighters at what I regard to by the peak of their powers in the ring. Both men had hugely successful careers and are well known for their antics both in and out of the ring but both appear to be very different in other ways.
Looking at the statistics Ali standing at 6ft 3 holds a significant height advantage over the 5ft 10 Tyson. Tyson retired with a record of 50 wins with 44 by knock-out, 6 losses and 2 no contests. Ali in comparison held a record of 56 wins with 33 by knock-out and 5 losses. So looking purely at the statistics here you would tend to favour Ali as he is bigger, won more fights and lost less than Tyson.
Fortunately for all, statistics don’t tell the whole story in boxing. Tyson in his prime was a ferocious savage of a boxer who had beaten the majority of his opponents before they even stepped into the ring. They were intimidated by his huge punch-power and didn’t believe that they could beat him.
Intimidation was a huge part of Tyson’s repertoire but I couldn’t really see it having much effect on Ali. In fact Ali himself was known to be the man to get into his opponents heads with his constant trash-talking. If anyone would take a mental edge into this it would probably have been Ali.
To combine with his unbelievable knock out power Tyson was also very quick and technically underrated. He often out-jabbed men much taller than himself. He dedicated his life entirely to boxing at one point and studied hour after hour in his search to perfect his skill of the noble art. In his prime, which was admittedly fairly short, he was a near unstoppable force who blew away anything in his path.
Ali often regarded as the best heavyweight of all time was a boxer who knew how to adapt to any situation in front of him. Take his fight with George Foreman. Foreman was a huge puncher yet Ali was able to beat him. Ali used his now famous ‘rope a dope’ technique to soak up the pressure from Foreman and then beat him. He was a tactically very astute boxer who possessed good but not great power.
Ali was very light-footed and often made his opponents look slow and old but I couldn’t see this happening against Tyson. Ali would probably look to use his skill to frustrate and out-box Tyson and the frenetic pace at which he liked to operate. This could be successful but in his prime I just think that Tyson would be too much for anyone to handle.
Concluding when looking at both fighters in their peaks I believe that Tyson was an unstoppable boxer. He had desire, speed, power, strength and good technique. Yes his peak may not have lasted for years and years like others but for me that was because of outside the ring issues. He could do things that others simply couldn’t and had scary power in either hand. He could destroy opponents with a single punch.
I realise that I will receive criticism for my opinion and I completely understand and accept that as Tyson lost when he came up against real class and Ali won (in the majority of occasions) when he came up against real class. This however doesn’t stop me from believing that that the only person who ever could beat Mike Tyson was himself. He let his out of the ring issues take over his life and his boxing and lost what made him so special.
Yes Ali is a true legend of the sport and has a long list of brilliant assets but for me not even the great Muhammad Ali in his prime would be able to stop the onslaught of a prime and lethal Mike Tyson!
Kwani B. O’Pharrow, Sr – The greatest fight of all time – Lets entertain this scenario if the fight were on pay per view tonight and both men were in their prime.
If the fight were to go the distance I would definitely say Ali. Here is my reasoning. Ali as gifted and talented as he was possessed the mental fortitude to adapt to every fighters style. He was the master of ring generalship.
Tyson on the other hand possesses the power of greek god Zeus. His speed and accuracy was on point. Tyson knew how to cut the ring off and wear his opponent down with his relentless attack. I compare his attacks to that of the great white.
At the end we all know that this would make for interesting conversation because like we say in boxing styles make fights and this would be one for the ages.
Cedric LeClair – As expected, Mike would come out very aggressive and try to take Ali out in the first few rounds….something that nobody was able to do, including harder punchers than Mike. i.e. Ernie Shavers, George Foreman. Ali would have the style to stay away from Mike similar to what James Tillis did, but better. Ali would frustrate Mike and take him into the deep rounds to win a decision or make him quit.
50 Pence @Groodster – Whenever I think of how Mike Tyson would fair in a fictional match up with Muhammad Ali I instantly think back to Tyson’s fight with James ‘Quick’ Tillis.
Tillis as his nickname would suggest was indeed quick and his style of boxing was moulded on that of ‘The Greatest’ ,he simply didn’t possess the speed of hand and foot that Ali did, yet he had enough of both to give Tyson a very difficult fight, a fight some thought Tillis won (I didn’t).
This is also how the Ali/Clay that fought Liston would have fought Tyson but with greater physical gifts at his disposal.
Ali would stay out of range, constant movement side to side, not allowing the shorter puncher to get set and on the occasions Tyson would trap Ali in corners the ‘Louisville lip’ would have no hesitation in grabbing hold and spoiling.
Ill be honest I think Tyson would have had little success, his average foot speed and tendency to follow his opponent rather than cutting off the ring would have been badly exposed by Ali who I believe would weather the early push from Tyson and dominate as the fight went on with his fast straight punching.
Tyson had underrated defence and one of the best chins in boxing history, this I believe would have seen him through to the final bell v Ali who would also remain respectful of the shorter mans power throughout. – Muhammad Ali beats Mike Tyson by unanimous decision.
@Boobie_Traps5 – A fantasy fight between Ali and Tyson is the most asked question in boxing. There is no right or wrong answer and everyone seems to have a different view but here is mine: Tyson would be the aggressor hunting Ali down, He would score a knockdown early but Ali wins rounds using his footwork and movement while frustrating to Tyson to take a unanimous decision.
The Results are in: Muhammad wins by Unanimous Decision – 12 Ali vs 1 Tyson