Mike Tyson wouldn't make the list of athletes with the greatest character, but when it comes strictly to boxing, Tyson is one of the all-time greats, worthy of a top-10 ranking.
His selection Tuesday to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum confirms Tyson's greatness, and his record reveals that he's truly elite.
From the start of his professional career, Tyson demonstrated his brute strength and ferocity, knocking out his first 19 opponents and compiling a 37-0 record. During that period, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champ at 20 years, 4 months, and also became the first heavyweight to hold the WBA, WBC and IBF belts at the same time.
Of those 37 victories, an astonishing 17 came in the first round. No doubt about it, Tyson was dominant during his early career.
Tyson's first loss came against James "Buster" Douglas in a major upset in which Tyson seemed out of shape, but he responded by defeating Donovan Ruddock twice, another menacing fighter whom other top heavyweights would not fight at the time.
However, Tyson's second defeat of Ruddock in June 1991 was his last fight before a three-year prison term due to a rape conviction.
After the time spent behind bars, Tyson never regained top form. He won his first four bouts after jail, but in 1996 he fell to Evander Holyfield, and a year later lost by disqualification due to his infamous biting of Holyfield's ear.
From 1995-2005, Tyson went just 9-5, an inglorious ending to an incredible start to his career. But even though he failed to climb back to the top after his hiatus, he should still be judged based on his overall impressive resume.
Michael Jordan is still referred to as the greatest basketball player even though he didn't look spectacular when he played for the Wizards, and Brett Favre will still go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks even though he's falling off this season. Similarly, Tyson's 41-1 pre-prison record should cement his legacy as one of the greatest fighters of all time.
His personal troubles seem to tarnish his legacy, but in the ring, Tyson's accomplishments speak volumes. He missed significant time during the prime of his career but still managed to challenge Holyfield and Lennox Lewis late in his career.
Even Muhammad Ali and George Foreman struggled down the stretch of their careers, so Tyson's downswing is far from unprecedented.
Tyson deservedly made the Boxing Hall of Fame, and he deserves to be recognized as one of the 10 best fighters to ever live.
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