- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

In a way, it might have been better for Mike Tyson if he had gone out big, on the business end of a crushing punch that toppled him to the canvas.

It would have been a fitting end to the wild ride that was Tyson’s violent, controversial, unique career. But no. There was no noise and little violence at the end of the sixth round last night at MCI Center. Tyson lay tangled up in the ropes. Referee Joe Cortez walked to the former heavyweight champion’s corner, listened and waved his arms.

Even though he was leading on the cards of two of the three judges, Tyson simply had quit, a loser by technical knockout to a big Irish journeyman named Kevin McBride. Iron Mike’s career is over.

“I’m not fighting no more. … I don’t have the guts to stay in the sport anymore,” he said. “I do not want to disrespect the sport I love.”

But boxing failed to return the love. It hasn’t for some time. Tyson will turn 39 at the end of the month, and it showed. Whatever he had has been lost. It wasn’t coming back.

“I felt like I was 120 years old,” Tyson said. “I don’t think I can beat Father Time. I don’t have the desire and discipline no more.”

Tyson (50-6) made some attempts to find the fire and fury. His wild punches captured the hopes of the big, pro-Tyson crowd of 15,732 — which included former champ Muhammad Ali — but it was quickly silenced. Instead, a pocket of McBride supporters made their presence known from the second level. Their hopes, and McBride’s, enlarged as the fight progressed.

Meanwhile, Tyson’s hope were fading.

McBride, who at 6-foot-6, 271 pounds towered over the 5-10, 233-pound Tyson, eschewed the normal strategy of the taller man and chose to fight from close quarters. He tied up Tyson repeatedly and scored from inside. A head butt by Tyson opened a cut under McBride’s left eye, but he wasn’t deterred.

Tyson not only was fighting to continue what remained of his boxing life, he was in a pitched battle to get out of debt and rebuild his personal life. That, too, apparently is finished. Reportedly $34 million in the red because of an extravagant lifestyle and some dubious decisions, Tyson reportedly was engaged in a multifight repayment plan. He earned about $5 million, almost all of which is going to his creditors.

McBride, meanwhile, got $150,000, five times more than he had made off a fight, for what the so-called experts, wise guys and basically anyone with an opinion other than the McBride circle expected to be a short evening. The 32-year-old McBride (33-4-1) is the Irish champion, which sounded like being captain of the Jamaican bobsled team in terms of significance. His resume featured victories over no one of consequence.

Perhaps it still doesn’t.

Although McBride, who turned pro in 1992 after competing for the Irish Olympic team, had won his last seven bouts, two of them came against fighters with a combined 48 losses.

Most of the hype leading up to the fight failed to produce the histrionics or plain bizarre behavior normally associated with Tyson, whose wide-ranging psychological and emotional conditions and criminal acts have been as visibly displayed as his array of tattoos, which includes a picture of Che Guevara on his left abdomen and some squiggly thing on his face.

However, Tyson did manage to conjure at least glimmer of the wild, crazy, ear-biting wild man of old by promising to “gut [McBride] like a fish.” Still, that was in response to some comments, made with the apparent intent of getting Tyson’s dander up, made not by McBride but his manager.

McBride, who at the first press conference made some inflammatory comments, toned down his act this week. Probably the most provocative thing he said was that he was going to “shock the world.”

Before losing to McBride, Tyson lost to the obscure Danny Williams via a fourth-round knockout in July after suffering torn knee ligaments in the first round. Tyson said he had recovered from the ensuing surgery.

Before that, in February 2003, Tyson knocked out Clifford Etienne in 49 seconds of the first round. But in the fight before that one, he was stopped in the eighth round by then-WBC/WBA champion Lennox Lewis.

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