The real deal is with Iron Mike
By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist

Dear Roy Jones:

Don't get in the ring with Evander Holyfield. The fight would be a waste of your time and way too dangerous, and, most important, it's not what the public wants to see.

Roy, you should be doing everything within your power to make a fight with Soon-To-Be-Behind Iron Mike Tyson. That's the gargantuan-money fight that could make you the biggest boxing star since Muhammad Ali knocked out the U.S. government and escaped the draft.

Roy Jones Jr.
Looking at those belts, Evander is licking his dentures.
There's a good chance Holyfield will knock your block off, the same way he did the skinny dreamer in the hilarious TV commercial that's been running lately. Yes, you have more skill than Evander Holyfield. Yes, Evander is old, washed up, slow and surely can't concentrate on boxing with all the baby's mama drama going on in his life.

But Evander has the one intangible ingredient that will make him a threat in the ring until he's 50. No one has more heart than Evander Holyfield. Roy, you might dance around the ring for 11 rounds, pepper Holyfield's face into a swollen melon, but in the 12th and final round Holyfield will be capable of landing the haymaker that sends you tumbling back into light heavyweight oblivion.

It might take more than 91 seconds, but Evander could do to you what Soon-To-Be-Behind Iron Mike Tyson did to Michael Spinks. You remember Mike Spinks, Leon's baby brother, the Spinks with a pretty smile and a good set of teefus, the Spinks who, with the help of some highly questionable scoring, moved up several weight classes and stopped Larry Holmes from breaking Rocky Marciano's undefeated record?

Tyson threw Spinks a surprise retirement party in 1988. Because of that debacle, lot of folks mistakenly believe Tyson was "The Spinks Jinx." When in fact "The Jinx" was Spinks' wicked right hand, which unraveled Marvin Johnson, Dwight Braxton and Gerry Cooney, just to name a few.

Well, Spinks made the mistake of stepping into the ring at the wrong time with Mike Tyson. The decision blew Spinks' legacy.

It's not that I believe Holyfield is anywhere near the Tyson of 1988. That Tyson was secret agent Jack Baurer, a 24-hour, indestructible killing machine. That Tyson intimidated and struck fear in the heart of all of his opponents.

My point is that Mike Tyson, even today, can make or break a fighter's reputation. Holyfield can't. There's no upside to beating Evander Holyfield, and there's a tremendous downside if you lose. It's impossible to knock out Holyfield. His head is made of steel and so is his jaw. The only way you beat Holyfield is by surviving 12 grueling rounds. If you win, no one is all that impressed. Holyfield is 41 and has lost to John Ruiz and Chris Byrd over the last couple of years. Doctors have been advising Holyfield to give up boxing for a decade.

Soon-To-Be-Behind Iron Mike Tyson, on the other hand, isn't nearly as dangerous as Holyfield -- Tyson has no heart and can be easily frustrated -- and the uninformed boxing public, which refuses to admit the truth about Tyson's heart, would be thoroughly impressed with your thrashing of Tyson.

Mike Tyson
Even after Tyson bit his ear, Evander was ready for more.
A victory over Tyson would make you an international star, Roy, and set you up for a couple of more record paydays. Did I mention that? A bout with Tyson would capture the nation's attention. Don King would hype Tyson-Jones into a cultural phenomenon that would rival Ali-Foreman. Tyson would play the role of Foreman, the brooding, menacing, muscle-bound bully. You would be a rapping, rhyming mini-Muhammad Ali. The pay-per-view revenue would be incredible. Las Vegas would reinstate Tyson's license just so it could cash in.

Boxing would be important again. You might rake in $40 million, Roy. I'm serious.

Don't throw this opportunity away by scrapping with Holyfield. If you lose to Holyfield's heart, the Tyson fight loses its allure. Holyfield's too freaking dangerous, too unpredictable. Holyfield is capable of letting his pride get in the way of doing what's best for boxing and his babies' mamas. Don't fight Holyfield unless someone guarantees the outcome beforehand. You know what I'm saying, Roy?

Check that. Don't fight Holyfield, period. The longer you put off "The Fight of the Century," the more you risk Tyson doing something that will land him behind iron. Oh, it's going to happen. Tyson's headed back to the joint. Or he's headed to an institution where doctors will work on his sanity. The clock is ticking on Tyson's freedom. The tatt around his eye, the Desiree Washington comments, the near-withdrawal from the Clifford Etienne fight ... all are tell-tale signs that Tyson's about to implode. You can only babysit Tyson for so long.

Roy, your shot at exploiting Tyson and the Tyson myth could evaporate while you're tussling with Evander Holyfield. Evander will be there -- for a lot more money -- after Tyson. The same can't be said of Tyson after Holyfield.


Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (, the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB ( and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at



Jason Whitlock Archive

Whitlock: The double standard

Whitlock: Three mortal sins

Whitlock: Salt N Peppa

Email story
Most sent
Print story

espn Page 2 index