If you want to know just how far professional boxing has deteriorated just look to this Saturday's Mike Tyson fight in Memphis. Tyson is scheduled to fight a French heavyweight whose name now escapes me. But that doesn't really matter. What puzzles me is why 10,000 people have already purchased high-priced tickets to the Tyson circus.
Mike Tyson is a troubled man. How's that for being kind? Tyson on medication is a loose cannon. Without his medication, he can only be described as an animal. His history clearly proves that's the case.
I doubt there are truly any more fight fans as there were many years ago. I think now those who follow this sport are simply fascinated by the prospect of another Tyson riot complete with lunatics of every make and model. I have long predicted that the final Tyson fight - whenever that might be - will end in gunplay. That's no off-the-wall prediction either.
Mike Tyson is no longer a fighter - he is a circus act that promises violence inside and outside of the ring. Those who watch his antics don't do so for the sport; they follow his act to see just how bizarre and how low one man can fall. With Tyson, the bottom's the limit.
Boxing long ago became a fringe sport at best. In boxing's heyday - probably following World War II - the sport was still worth watching. But with Tyson, it's no longer a sport and we all know it. Tyson has single-handedly transformed a once-proud event into a sideshow of violence and mental instability. As one promoter said this week, Tyson should be banned for life to protect him against himself. If Mike Tyson is anyone's role model, we're in deep trouble.
The sight of Mike Tyson sprawled on the floor following the beating from Lennox Lewis was indeed a fitting portrait. But Tyson is everyone's payday and, as a result, the promoters see him for what he is - one final meal-ticket regardless of the impact on boxing or society.
I remember a tale told to me many, many years ago by a race car promoter who was traveling the Midwest. As the story goes, the promoter told investors he could assure a million dollar purse if he could guarantee the spectators that someone would be killed or seriously injured on the race track. That morbid thought has been on my mind through the years. The promoter was saying that the public loves the spectacle of violence or death and are willing to pay big bucks for that guarantee. What a sad commentary on society.
Fast-forward to now and you see the race car promoter was right on target. Give the public the prospect of something spectacularly violent and they'll line up to see the action. Mike Tyson is the action in the boxing ring and, increasingly, outside of the ring as well. How sad that we let this pathetic man pull our collective morals that far below the surface.