I think there are quite a few things to consider before weighing up such a titanic battle. If your talking primes, which in this article we are, both men had slightly different fortunes during their primes. When you look at what Muhammad Ali in his prime, you could say he was robbed of more than three years of it when he decided to not support America in the Vietnam war thus causing him to be exiled from boxing for three years. I don’t care what sport your in, taking three years from a professional athlete’s career is a substantial period of time. You’ve got a narrow window of opportunity as a boxer to maximize your career and perhaps the three years Ali was out of action we could have even seen more genius work from him, but we’ll never know.
Switching to Mike Tyson. His destructive, wrecking ball machine type prime was evident for all to see in his younger days. He cut through the heavyweight division like a knife through butter and racked up an incredible record of 31-0 (21 KO) before he came unstuck to Buster Douglas. For me Tyson’s prime would have been from around 19 when he won the title up until he sacked his coach Kevin Rooney (roughly not too long before the Douglas defeat). After this everyone knows the carnage that ensued in his career
with prison time and much more to follow. But before all that when he was at his purest, living the Spartan life of an elite level prize fighter, I honestly don’t know how anyone could have dealt with that particular Tyson.
Of course styles always make fights and I know many people will say Tyson came up short anytime he fought anyone at the highest level. But what you must consider is the times he came unstuck his career was in a state of terminal decline (for one reason or another). Mike Tyson was never going to be the type of guy who had a long career, unless his childhood mentor Cus D’amato was around for it (which sadly was not the case). Tyson in his prime created a type of buzz, energy and raw mystique that perhaps no one in the history of the sport has done. He was essentially the apex fighting machine, with incredible speed and power for a man of his frame and also top class defense and head movement to boot. A real phenom.
Stylistically I always ask myself how would it really have played out if the two met in the ring? Ali would have the slightly better reach and possibly a little (if anything) bit more in the speed department. No doubt Ali would have tried to get that jab pumping and used his phenomenal foot work early on. I just wonder though with the type of character Ali was, could he have gotten drawn into a brawl with Tyson?
I think Tyson would have come out like a steam train and to be honest his sheer ferociousness and athleticism would have probably got to Ali in the mid rounds. That’s just my opinion though. I think you have to be objective when discussing these fantasy fights but for me if your talking primes, hand on heart, honestly I don’t think there was ever a man who walked this Earth who would have touched Tyson between the age of 19 and when he got rid of Kevin Rooney.