The Time is Now for Mike Tyson

Enough already.  Why is one of boxing’s biggest stars of all-time, “Iron” Mike Tyson, still visibly absent in boxing on all fronts? He stays secluded these days, but Tyson would certainly accept an invitation to return “home”.  He sure could use the gig, and he’s getting by with cameo appearances in movies like “The Hangover”, guest host on “Monday Night Raw” and as apresenter on award shows.  It just doesn’t compare to being where he truly belongs.  It’s not justice though for a man who we adored when he was beheading people in the latter part of the 20th century.  He is a man who left such an impression, not only the hardcore boxing fans but casual ones as well, that we still hopelessly search for the arrival of the next “Kid Dynamite”.  Amazingly enough, after all these years the networks still believe Tyson to be a delicate subject with too much risk on a potential investment.  Tyson is no longer a troubled man.  He’s made peace in his advanced age and Tyson has given us so much over the years that quite frankly, we should give back to Mike Tyson.

When considering a Tyson comeback the 1st person who comes to mind is Dana White. It’s not everyday I agree with Dana White but he got it right when he criticized Showtime in regards to boxing.  It’s always been thought and understood but no one ever actually came out and said it.  Showtime has always been second banana in boxing.  They have always had a 2nd rate roster and a deplorable commentators.  Knowing this, Showtime made some changes to better compete with boxing’s broadcasting champ HBO.  First came  adjustments to the people calling the fight.  Then came the Super 6 Super Middleweight Round Robin tournament.  It was all a step in the right direction but HBO’s boxing outlet still easily outclasses Showtime. Showtime needs something else that will undoubtedly launch their profile to new heights and make their share of the boxing market pop to the masses.  As 2009 came to a close, boxing’s resurgence was reaching its apex and for the sake of striking while the iron is hot, it’s time to bring back Mike Tyson and Showtime is just the company to do it.

There is nothing more Showtime can possibly do other than add Mike Tyson to their brand. Showtime needs Mike Tyson.  He’s a big steak to add to their sizzle.  Tyson is an unlikely historian of the sport.  He has loads of charisma and is quite articulate.  It’s a no-brainer that Showtime should add him as the retired pro on their panel. Showtime is never going to have the talent pool to compare to HBO.  The only way they can make up for it would be through an x-factor in their broadcasting team which as it stands now is very vanilla.  Imagine what a Mike Tyson can do to their line up of commentators.  Tyson equals ratings and size up the panels for both rivals and landing Tyson would only benefit Showtime.

Showtime          HBO

Gus Johnson          Jim Lampley

Al Bernstein           Larry Merchant

Steve Farhood       Max Kellerman

Jim Gray                  Harold Lederman

Karyn Bryant         Emmanuel Steward

Antonio Tarver     Lennox Lewis

It’s an insult to Jim Lampley to mention Gus Johnson in the same sentence. Unless when saying Lampley is in the upper echelon of commentator talent and Johnson can only dream of it.  Al Bernstein has the most credibility under the Showtime banner but lacks the decorated tongue of Larry Merchant.  Max Kellerman, Harold Lederman, Emmanuel Steward and Lennox Lewis are television gold and round out the sweep for HBO.  Showtime keeps trying bold new things, like forming Strikeforce to compete with the UFC, so having Mike Tyson join the team only makes sense.  It’s the one move HBO will never be able to counter while Showtime’s viewership will multiply ten fold.  People are intrigued with Tyson and he will give them a reason to tune into Showtime.

Would be backlash is no longer a factor.  Tyson has done his time.  Both in the legal system and in the eyes of the public.  In the ultimate forum of public acceptance, Oprah aired a special episode of her daily talk show featuring Mike Tyson.  Tyson reflected and broke down in front of Oprah’s legions.  He also came to terms with ear bitten victim Evander Holyfield. He’s fallen from great heights and no longer poses a threat to anyone.  He’s a humble man and has repented for his sins.  If Oprah and Evander can accept and see this, then what’s the hold up?  Tyson received Oprah’s seal of approval.  Once Oprah says you’re OK then the rest is butter.  Mike Tyson should be no exception.

Maybe the biggest obstacle in Tyson’s comeback would be himself. He would not want to be billed as “Iron” Mike Tyson.  He knows all too well how people remember him and he is not fond of it.  Tyson is quick to knockout the lofty image of “Iron” Mike much like Rob Van Winkle looks to rid the ghosts of Vanilla Ice’s past.  Luckily for Tyson, he’s not in Van Winkle’s shoes.  Imagine trying to make people forget about that.  . We love “Ice Ice Baby” bu we honestly still mock that version of Vanilla Ice.  There was no mocking “Iron” Mike.  “Iron” Mike remains timeless.  “Iron” Mike was the last champion to make boxing front page news.  Even though the man he looks back on in those days brought him years of pain, in the end we as a resilient culture only remember the true importance of “Iron” Mike.  Looking back only his boxing greatness is what matters from  that period.  The controversy that surrounded those times is a dead issue.  Tyson is still celebrated and the transition to the booth would be a smooth one.

Boxing is in Mike Tyson’s DNA.  He should be rewarded by the sport and networks that gained so much from him.  Exiling Mike Tyson from boxing would be like taking away Michael Angelo’s paint brushes.  No good can possibly come of it.  Tyson is good for the sport.  Though some would dismiss that notion I would like to point out to take note how often his name still comes up.  Whether its his documentaries, or using his name to describe a ferocious punch, Mike Tyson is still very much in boxing’s conscience.  We still have not moved on from the Tyson Era.  Countless articles covering heavyweight boxing plead for the next exciting American heavyweight to reveal himself right here and now.  Just like Tyson did when people were have Muhammad Ali withdrawals.  Even without mentioning his name, it’s understood whom they are speaking of.  Even his video game was voted the best sports game of all-time. That’s true power and something that significant should never be denied.

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