Fantasy Matchup: Mike Tyson vs. Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali quickly dodges a punch in the ring

Muhammad Ali is too fast

Boxing as we knew it (1960’s-1990’s) is dead.

There are a couple of good fighters, but they are neither heavy weights nor true boxers compared to the past.

Let’s be honest, when you’re watching Floyd Mayweather fight, it doesn’t cross your mind that it may be completely fixed?

MMA completely took over boxing simply because the fights are just so much more entertaining and real.

Boxing will never be the same again, and it is pretty upsetting to think about. Remember how exciting it was to watch Mike Tyson fight Holyfield?

We will never see entertaining heavy weight fights anymore.

Instead of continuing this rant about boxing, I would like to bring back good memories from when the sport was amazing.

Famous types of arguments that boxing fans talk about are fights that can’t happen. A boxer from 50 years ago fighting a boxer from 15 years ago. Obviously its impossible, but its a lot of fun to discuss.

Lets say if I asked the question, ” Who would win in their prime, Tyson or Ali?

I know fans from different time periods would have different views, but there is only one way to find out.

Let’s jump into the Fantasy Matchup Time Machine and kidnap two of the best boxers of all-time.

First stop, Madison Square Garden, NYC, March 13th 1963.

Muhammad Ali is dancing around waiting for his fight to start with Doug Jones. If you are an older boxing fan, you might remember this fight as “The Fight of the Year.” As the bell rings, Doug Jones charges Ali with a flurry of punches, but Ali vanishes. ZazenLife now has Ali in his prime and ready to fight.

Next stop, Mirage Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas Nevada, June 28th 1991.

On a quest to regain his title, Tyson is angry and ready to take someones head off with a left hook. As referee Mills Lane brings Mike Tyson and Donovan Ruddock into the middle of the ring to touch gloves, Tyson disappears in thin air.

mike tyson standing with his boxing gloves on

Mike Tyson is pretty intimidating

Now we also have Tyson in the beginning of his prime and ready to kill. With access to two of the best boxers in history, we can now witness one of the best fights ever.

Imagine seeing Tyson vs. Ali in Madison Square Garden?

Don’t we all wish, right?

Since we can’t, well break down the rounds of the fight in an understandable and honest way.

If you’re going to have a fantasy fight discussion concerning Ali and Tyson, there are six simple attributes that must be examined. These include:

  1. Style
  2. Speed
  3. Defense
  4. Power
  5. Psychology
  6. Heart

So its January 7th 2012, we are at Madison Square Garden in NYC and Tyson and Ali just touched gloves.

The bell rings.

Round 1: Style (Ali 1 – Tyson 0)

Both of these fighters have amazing style that contributed to their successful boxing career. Ali created his own style which was very different from anyone else. His hands dangled loosely, and instead of using his arms to defend himself,he leaned back and forth.

He taunted his opponents and got inside of their heads.

Tyson used more of an intimidating style working off scaring his opponents to defeat, but Ali takes round one solely on his ability to deliver punishment while disorienting his opponents for more than 3 rounds (something Tyson could not do).

Round one goes to Ali.

Round 2: Speed (Ali 2 – Tyson 0)

Mike Tyson was very fast in his prime, but no heavy weight fighters speed can be compared to Ali. He had speed that a fighter his size wouldn’t normally possess.

His hand speed was amazing, but even more amazing was his foot speed. He danced around opponents leaving them dizzy and tired.

I have to admit that Tyson’s hooks and upper cuts were extremely fast. His speed is underrated. But Ali was faster.

Ali takes round two.

Round 3: Defense (Ali 2 – Tyson 1)

To be honest, Ali’s defense was terrible. He never put his hands up to defend himself. His defenseless stance would leave him open for a brutal left hook from Tyson.

Tyson’s defense wasn’t to good either. He got knocked out five times compared to Ali getting knocked out once.

Tyson takes round 3 because he actually tried to defend himself.

Ali was to cocky to put his hands up, and Tyson would take full advantage of that.

Round 4: Power (Ali 2 – Tyson 2)

Tyson! Tyson! Tyson!

Tyson went to kill his opponents early in the fight. Every single swing he took was explosive and capable of knocking any fighter out. 41% of his fights ended in the 1st round.

That should say it all.

His power was too much for other fighters. Watch the fight against Trevor Berbick. It’s hilarious. Tyson hurt him so bad that he started to run away. With 23 knockouts in his career, Tyson takes round 4.

mike tyson lands a right hook on an opponents face

If he connected, you were going down

Round 5: Psychology ( Ali 3 – Tyson 2)

This is where Ali starts taking the fight over.

Psychology played a huge role in both of these boxers careers. They both used psychology as a weapon against their opponents.

Tyson relied mainly on scaring his opponents. Boxers feared Tyson, but if they didn’t, it was tough for him to beat them. In Tyson’s documentary, he stated:

 “I walk around the ring and never take my eyes off my opponent. I’m looking for a sign of his fear. He’ll fight hard for two or three rounds but I KNOW I broke his spirit.”

Other than scaring his opponents, Tyson was mentally weak. His mind was held together by his trainer Cus D’Amato. D’Amato built Tyson’s confidence and when he died we all saw a downfall in Tyson’s career.

On the other hand, Ali was a master at psyching out his opponents. He distracted them with pre-fight taunts, jokes and even poems. He called opponents names and predicted what round he would beat them in.

 This would destroy Tysons composure and take him out of his game plan.

Round 5 goes to Ali.

Muhammad Ali stands over his opponent and taunts him

Ali was known for taunting his opponents

Round 6: Heart (Ali 4 – Tyson 2)

Ali got up every single time he got knocked down. He never got completely knocked out cold. He had too much pride and heart to get counted out. His heart matched his talents and it was shown at his worst moments.

When Henry Cooper, Chuck Wepner and Sunny Banks knocked Ali down, he got back up and won the fights.

In my opinion, Tyson had very little heart. He ran off all anger and intimidation, but this does not work against the best fighters.

Ali was never scared to fight anyone, and Tyson’s intimidation methods would not work on Ali. Ali takes over the fight, and Tyson loses in round 6.

The only way Tyson would have had a chance is if he took Ali down quick ( in the first 2-3 rounds). The best boxers couldn’t take Ali down and either would Tyson.

The first couple of rounds would be interesting, but after Tyson realized that Ali won’t go down he would get anxious. He would take stupid chances, and Ali would be all over them.

Mike Tyson gets knocked out

Ali would beat Tyson Physically and Mentally

We can add in other factors such as stronger chins and endurance, but I feel that Ali would win both categories anyway.


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11 Responses to Fantasy Matchup: Mike Tyson vs. Muhammad Ali

  1. robert4dun0058 says:

    Ali, himself, said that Tyson would beat him easily, and in fact knock him out, in an early Tyson career interview, shared between the two. The interviewer asked the two who would win, between the two in a, ” fight of all time”, and Tyson simply said that Ali was his hero, and Ali responded by saying that, “Tyson would kill me!”. Ali further added that Tyson flat out frightened him, referring simply to Tyson’s seek and destroy style, and his murderous ring results. No boxer destroyed other boxers in any weight class the way Tyson murdered heavyweights in his prime. No early rounds can be given to Ali, because his defense was not even remotely good enough to stop a search and destroy Tyson, who ended many great fighters in a matter of seconds, never mind rounds. Tyson’s dodging defense was grossly underrated, and every counterpunch he threw had knockout intentions, even to the body, and especially the body. When Tyson was in shape, unlike his fight with Douglas, he was an absolute human wrecking machine, and I am matching these two up, both in their prime. I love Ali, but Tyson would hunt him down, like he did everyone else, the second the opening bell rang, and unleash a non-stop onslaught of lethal punches that would end the fight, in nasty fashion in the first round. If somehow, Ali, survived the first round, it would be over in Tyson’s favor, via KO, at the start of the second round, because the onslaught would come all over again. Buster Douglas beat an out of shape Tyson, would was stupid enough not to train for the fight, and Douglas still ended up in the hospital after, and noted that everything Tyson threw hurt. Douglas was never the same again, and self admittedly, but he won, and hats off to him. I could then point to a couple lackluster Ali performances, but this is a matchup of two fighters in their prime, and I love them both. Tyson also had the advantage of dominating in a time of sports science and huge money. He had outstanding amateur coaching, massive money amounts early in his career, the best sparring partners money could buy, the best nutrition possible, amazing training facilities available at his whim – the best of a more modern fighter. If you put their body types side by side, Ali looks like he is out of shape compared to Tyson, on Ali’s best day, and that is purely a matter a fighting in a different era. My opinion is just that, an opinion, and I respect yours, and I love both fighters. 🙂

    • MatMan says:

      Tyson was AFRAID to fight George Foreman when George was a 40 year old man. Iron Mike was quoted as yelling “I ain’t fighting that monster!!” Ali destroyed Foreman when Ali was past his prime and when Foreman was young and seemingly invincible and when Ali was a prohibitive 7-1 Vegas Odds underdog. Ali would have toyed with Tyson, outclassed him, destroyed his spirit and self-confidence, and then knocked Tyson out convincingly in either the fifth or sixth round. You can count on that outcome and take it to the bank!!!

  2. JIM says:

    I guess you Tyson fans have forgotten a guy named Buster Douglas….However,I do disagree with most of both sides…in this respect…Let’s not forget that Tyson was only 5’10” vs. Ali’s 6’3”.
    Ali also had a tremendous reach advantage…..Tyson would chase Ali and Ali would dance away, while throwing leather….Reminiscent of “The Thrilla’ in Manila”, I believe that by the 8th or 10th round Tyson would be too cut up, eyes closed to continue..

  3. MatMan says:

    Tyson was AFRAID to fight George Foreman when George was a 40 year old man. Iron Mike was quoted as yelling “I ain’t fighting that monster!!” Ali destroyed Foreman when Ali was past his prime and when Foreman was young and seemingly invincible and when Ali was a prohibitive 7-1 Vegas Odds underdog. Ali would have toyed with Tyson, outclassed him, destroyed his spirit and self-confidence, and then knocked Tyson out convincingly in either the fifth or sixth round. You can count on that outcome and take it to the bank!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    yall obviously dont know anything about boxing strength is only part of it ali was a way smarter and faster fighter than tyson ali would win no doubt

  5. Jay says:

    On the contrary, prime-Tyson had an amazing defense. Your scenario discredits him with 5 knockouts, yet it envisions him in early ’91. Those knockouts hadn’t occurred yet. I’d score him at 3 pts to Ali’s 1.

  6. John says:

    Tyson vs. Ali? Tyson by 2nd round KO, son.

  7. Pingback: Ali vs. Tyson who wins? - Boxing Forum - Boxing Discussion Forums

  8. I’m no boxing fan, but these two are def the best and what a fight it would be.

  9. rosereads says:

    I would love to see that fight. Thank you for helping me to imagine it.

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