- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 11, 2005

Logically, tonight’s heavyweight fight at MCI Center between Mellow Mike Tyson and Irish Kevin McBride should last no longer than two rounds, with the 6-foot-6 Irish Kevin falling like a giant oak tree, chopped down by Mellow Mike’s two-fisted axes.

Mellow Mike (50-5, 44 knockouts) is nearly 39, has fought just four times in four years — a total of 19 rounds — and lost two of those fights.

But Irish Kevin (32-4-1, 27 knockouts) would have been a glorified sparring partner for Mellow Mike in his fearsome heyday, when he was the baddest man on the planet. And, even a few weeks from turning 39, a fighter like Mellow Mike should be able to roll out of bed in the morning and beat the Irish Kevin McBrides of the world.

Certain fighters can do that. Larry Holmes could. George Foreman obviously did. But these were tall heavyweights who relied on boxing skills and ring savvy. Their game wasn’t one of explosion or intimidation. Foreman’s knockout punch in his second tenure as a fighter was usually a short, concise right hand thrown methodically, not desperately. And they used those skills to make up for their slowed reflexes to avoid getting hit.

Mellow Mike, though, stands just 5-foot-10 at the most. His success when he was the youngest heavyweight champion in the world, nearly two decades ago, was based on the explosion of his punches (and, at the time, his reflexes in ducking punches). But short, hard-hitting heavyweights don’t last. They burn brightly for a short time, then the reflexes go and they become hard-hitting targets (see Joe Frazier).

Against Francois Botha in 1999, Lennox Lewis in 2002 and Danny Williams last July, Tyson was reduced to a hard-hitting target — losing the latter two fights and beating Botha only by landing a devastating right hand with 10 seconds left in the fifth round after getting his ears boxed to that point.

Tyson’s game, particularly after he left prison in 1995, was one of intimidation. Frank Bruno blessed himself about a dozen times on his way to the ring to fight Mellow Mike in 1996, and was gone in three rounds. Bruce Seldon was shaking so bad before facing him a few months later that he went down in about a minute just from the wind of a missed punch.

But Evander Holyfield took that game away from Mellow Mike when he took the best he had and fed it back to him over 11 rounds in November 1996. Williams wasn’t afraid of Mellow Mike in Louisville last July, and he was a fighter who used to get so worked up before bouts he would sometimes cry or not even show up. But he managed to stand up and take Mellow Mike’s best shots for two rounds and then feed them back over the next two rounds and stop him.

If you can’t scare Danny Williams, you are one step away from being a “Sesame Street” character.

So can the 32-year-old Irish Kevin take the hard hitting long enough to perform target practice on Mellow Mike? Probably not. His track record — stopped in the ring by journeyman boxers like Davarryl Williamson and Louis Monaco — shows he doesn’t have the same chin that Danny Williams had.

And will Irish Kevin be afraid and freeze when he is finally in the ring with Mellow Mike, making the target practice even easier? He doesn’t appear to be scared so far. If anything, he seems to be under some sort of spell — and that is the bizarre wild card in determining what will happen tonight. (Is there any other wild card in a Mellow Mike fight other than a bizarre one?)

You see, Irish Kevin has been using a hypnotist to prepare for this fight. And he has seemed almost programmed this week, uttering the same catatonic responses to questions day after day, as if he is under some sort of black magic — or a planted suggestion.

Can someone be hypnotized into not being hurt by a Mellow Mike punch? I don’t know, but I’m under no spell, so I’m picking Mellow Mike in two rounds.

However, if Irish Kevin is still standing after four rounds, it won’t take much power of suggestion to convince me Mellow Mike has become as fearful as Oscar the Grouch, with about the same amount of boxing skills left.

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