I know it’s unfair to compare fighters from different generations but for the sake of sporting fun, this is a really interesting one to conceptualize. As technology and science have progressed sports have become more calculated and athletes have become better overall. However, boxing has quite a few exceptions to this.
Some people will argue that you’re blinded by nostalgia if you think Iron Mike stands a chance against modern fighters. But I argue that they are absolutely and unequivocally fallen to recency bias. Mike Tyson was a generational phenomenon and beat heavyweights in a much tougher and more competitive era.
I personally think he would flatten every modern heavyweight with relative ease except perhaps Tyson Fury which I’ll get onto later.
Why Prime Mike Tyson Would Beat Modern Heavyweights
Mike was a small heavyweight even in his era, standing at 5′ 10″ and 220lbs. However, in the modern day he’d be considered even smaller, with the average heavyweight standing well over 6′ 3″ and 230lbs. But this plays little to no significance in these matchups.
Mike was accustomed to fighting taller fighters and did most of his work on the inside so this would likely play to his favour. Secondly, his movement is so much better than any heavyweight from the modern era. His footwork, punch speed, and explosiveness are second to none. While every heavyweight can punch hard, there aren’t any fighters from today that have the tenacity to keep up with a prime Mike Tyson.
Frankly, the skill disparity is too large for the majority of fights to even be competitive. Heavyweights today are quite slow and sluggish and I don’t believe have the style to beat someone as unique and powerful as Mike Tyson in his prime.
Would Mike Tyson Beat Anthony Joshua
If the fight were to take place today, Mike would probably be the heavy favorite going into the bout. Anthony Joshua is a big puncher so there would always be a chance for him to score an upset. But if you compare the fighters stylistically, Tyson is a horrible match-up for AJ.
He’s far too quick and aggressive with his footwork. AJ does his best work against fighters that are roughly his size, for instance, Wladimir Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, & Dominic Breazeale. Thus far, all three of AJ’s losses have come from smaller opponents in Andy Ruiz and Oleksander Uysk.
Mike would almost certainly get to the inside and create a fight where AJ is constantly uncomfortable, not allowing him to get into a rhythm. This constant pressure would almost certainly lead to a stoppage in my estimation. This isn’t to discredit AJ who has done immense things for Boxing across the world, just that stylistically, this probably wouldn’t be a good match-up. But who knows, maybe a combination of size and advanced sports science would prevail. Maybe, we are blinded by nostalgia. I’d like to think I’m making an educated pick but in heavyweight boxing, you can never know.
Would Mike Tyson Beat Oleksander Uysk
I think of all the match-ups Mike Tyson could face in today’s era, this would be one of his toughest. Uysk is a slick southpaw with high-level boxing and good power. But cruiserweight is his natural size and while he has shown that he’s able to hold his own against bigger fighters like AJ and Daniel Dubious, I think he would get seriously hurt and put away against someone like Mike.
Dubious was able to hurt him to the body and unlike AJ, Mike will have no trouble closing the fight and making it scrappy. Uysk has a good commanding jab and has great lateral movement but I don’t think he’d have the punch resistance when the fight would inevitably become a brawl. He has the skill to win, I just don’t the Ukranian could compete physically.
Tyson’s pressure in his prime is tough for anyone to handle. But the fact is Mike would land heavy shots to the body that I’m doubtful he could absorb. This would be a very interesting fight but I think most professionals would side with Mike Tyson.
Would Mike Tyson Beat Deontay Wilder
After careful examination of their fights and styles, I would favor a prime Mike Tyson to win over Wilder. They are both aggressive power punchers but their styles are so different. Without a doubt Mike is technically better, using angles and combinations to set up power punches. Wilder, however, I think is a harder puncher. Mike had more spectacular knockouts but he didn’t purely rely on power and used clever angles to overwhelm his opponents.
While we have seen big improvements in Wilder’s technical ability, he is still quite one-dimensional in his approach, he sets up with the jab and waits for his opponents to walk onto a right hand. This strategy has served him incredibly well, producing 41 knockouts. However, against someone as creative and elusive as Mike, the chances of that right-hand landing flush would be quite slim.
That being said, I think Mike’s movement would be overwhelming and his angles would create an opening for him to finish Wilder inside four rounds.
Would Mike Tyson Beat Tyson Fury
This is a tough one. Would Tyson Fury beat the man he was named after? Frankly, I can’t make a prediction. Mike has the sharper punches and power but Fury is nearly a foot taller than him and 50lbs heavier. But size isn’t the real issue. At his best, Tyson Fury is a masterful boxer who can also punch. This combined with his freakish proportions means he would be a challenge for every heavyweight in history. He’s deceptively fast and moves very well for a man of his stature.
So while I’m sure Mike would be able to close the distance in the early rounds, I don’t know if he be able to put Fury away. If Fury were able to survive the early rounds, I think he’d start to take control of the fight with his jab and maybe edge his way to a points victory. What we do know, is that unless as long as Tyson Fury is breathing, he’ll lift himself up from the canvas and continue to fight until the final bell.
I don’t think this fight would be a rare instance where no one gets knocked out. The winner would probably get the decision on the scorecards and it would be razor-thin. Fury’s last performance against Nnganou has left some questions about the holes in his game but to me, it looks like it was simply a bad night for the lineal champion. Regardless, at his best Fury is an elite heavyweight, and its impossible to make an educated guess with these two.
Mike Tyson was a generational talent and while there is plenty of talent among the modern heavyweights, something does seem to have been lost in the division. The Klitschko era undoubtedly sucked the fun out of heavyweight boxing and started the trend of the top fighters not competing. Only until Tyson Fury dethroned Klitschko in 2015 did this start to change.