Boxing’s biggest comebacks including Muhammad Ali and George Foreman as Mike Tyson makes shock return aged 54 – The Sun
MIKE TYSON has confirmed he will come out of retirement to fight for the first time in 15 years.
The reformed Baddest Man on The Planet, 54, has signed to face former four-weight champion Roy Jones Jr, 51, in an eight-round exhibition bout on September 12.
It marks a sensational comeback for the youngest heavyweight champion of all time.
But George Foreman – who took 10 YEARS off dominating the heavyweight division only to return and become the weight’s oldest ever champion when he stunned Michael Moorer aged 45 – warned Tyson off of a comeback.
Although Tyson still looks razor sharp and more mentaly stable than during his younger and much darker days, Foreman has told him to stay retired and leave the hardest game to younger men.
Because speed and reflexes are the first things to leave a fighter and punch power is the last attribute to depart an aging boxer, the heavyweight division has a few tales of returning kings.
But the blue riband weight class and all the divisions below them also carry tragic tales of financial desperation and athletic delusion that left great boxing men reduced to rubble after missguided returns.
Hiatus: 10 years
First record: 45-2
The brooding muscle-bound monster lost his world titles and unbeaten record to Muhammad Ali in 1974’s Rumble in the Jungle and the shock 1977 points loss to Jimmy Young sent him into early retirement as an ordained minister.
But in 1987 a rolly-polly fella, who looked a bit like George Foreman, reemerged with a self-deprecating sense of humour.
The affable 38-year-old went on a brilliant win streak until losses to Evander Holyfield and Rocky star Tommy Morrrison seemed to end his career – again.
But in November 1994, aged a cool 45 years and 299 days, formidable Foreman won the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles from Michael Moorer.
The incredible story is one of boxing’s most loveable but is the first argument a faded fighter uses when arguing for his own comeback.
Hiatus: Three years
First record 29-0
Perhaps the greatest comeback story in the history of sport, that helped a man once vilified as a traitor become a global icon, is also one of the saddest and most tragic.
In the Spring of 1967, Ali was the undefeated unified champion of the world with the scalps of Sonny Liston, Archie Moore, Henry Cooper and Floyd Patterson.
But when he bravely refused the Vietnam War draft he was stripped of his titles and licence, costing him his prime fighting years of 25 to almost 29.
The 1971 Fight of the Century loss to Joe Frazier, The 1974 Rumble in the Jungle win over George Foreman and the 1975 Thrilla in Manilla revenge win over Smokin’ Joe redefined the sport and remain, decades later, pinnacle moments.
But the punishment Ali endured chasing money at the end – against younger brutes like Leon Spinks, Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick – contributed to the Parkinson’s that ruined what should have been the greatest retirement.
Hiatus: Four years
First Record: 41-1
In modern day 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, Mike Tyson still insists the sexual meeting he had with Desiree Washington in 1991 was completely consensual and that his prison sentence was unjust, making his tale even more painful.
Though battling childhood demons, bereft following the death of mentor Cus D’Amato and rebuilding after the shock loss to Buster Douglas, Tyson was close to his peak.
Dismissed by some as a flat-track bully, Iron Mike had just done 19 brilliant rounds with Donovan Razor Ruddock before the court case came to slash him down to size.
Tyson mkII was an even bigger attraction but even his 1996 WBC world title win over Frank Bruno could not save him.
Demons followed Tyson around, allowing more dedicated boxers like Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis to claim wins over him before he retired just shy of his 39th birthday as perhaps boxing's biggest squandered talent.
Hiatus: Four years
First Record: 35-2
At the dawn of 2005, Dr Ironfist was the WBC heavyweight champion of the world with only two defeats and a bright future.
But, after an agonising ACL knee injury scythed him down in a November sparring session and the lure of a political career pulled hard, the elder slugging sibling vacated his crown and took to democracy.
But, when the leg heeled and the knuckles itched, especially with baby bro Wladimir owning two other versions of the title, Vitali returned in October 2008 and regained his old crown in his first bout back.
In his four-year long second coming, Vlad added wins over Manuel Charr, Derek Chisora, Shannon Briggs and Chris Arreola to his record and quit, like old enemy Lennox, on top.
Hiatus: Three years
First Record: 45-3
The Easton Assassin hated every minute of his one-sided whooping of his hero Muhammad Ali when they clashed in 1980, so he knew the dangerous of prolonging a boxing career.
Underrated Holmes first retired in November 1986, aged 37, after controversial back-to-back losses to Michael Spinks but by January ‘88 he was lured back for a big-money loss to Mike Tyson.
The slippers went back on until April 1991 when Holmes embarked on a brilliant comeback, suffering defeats only to Evander Holyfield, Oliver McCall and Brian Nielsen.
Though a 1999 fantasy fight with George Foreman fell through, Holmes slipped back into retirement with his fortune and his faculties banked.
The owner of perhaps the best jab in heavyweight history, Holmes needed more competition during his but still amassed a magnificent record.
Hiatus: Three years
First record: 47-2-4
Brazil’s finest fighter had no business being able to shake off ringrust and tot-up such a record after hitting the beach for such a lengthy break.
Unlike all the giants previously mentioned, bantams rely on their speed, reflexes and stamina and all of those would usually vanish as quickly as the money and narrow waist, once a fighter retires.
But Jofre is one of history’s heaviest hitters and had no such problems.
When two decision losses to Fighting Harada, in his native Japan in 1965 and ‘66, cost 5ft 4in undisputed lineal king Jofre his titles, he jacked.
But three years later, reinvented as a featherweight, Jofre went on a second tear and was crowned WBC and lineal champ in 1973 before retiring at the summit with a stunning 50 wins by KO.
Hiatus: Three years
First record: 25-0
The Gypsy King dethroned 10-year champion Wladimir Klitschko in his adopted German backyard in November 2015, realising a lifelong dream, and knew he was heading for oblivion.
A doping ban, drink and drug abuse, mental health problems and obesity consumed him over the next two years, until WBC champion Deontay Wilder pushed his luck just a lick too far by goading him into a comeback.
A whopping 10st was melted off his frame, with the help of young mastermind Ben Davison, just two tune-up fights were needed and Wilder was bamboozled, only clinging onto his belt thanks to generous draw.
So Fury went back to America and casually switched from feather-fisted stylist to ruthless KO machine, battering Wilder until all he had left were excuses and a trilogy rematch clause.
SUGAR RAY LEONARD
Welter to light-heavyweight
Hiatus: Three years
First Record: 35-1
Moments after the underwhelming May 1984 win over Kevin Howard, after being floored for the first time in his career, one of boxing’s greatest talents retired.
The single loss to Roberto Duran had been avenged, Thomas Hearns had been stopped in the 1981 Fight of the Year and the fire in the undisputed welterweight icon’s belly had just dimmed too much to continue.
But when Marvellous Marvin Hagler wanted a dance partner for the Ring, WBC and lineal middleweight honours in April 1987, Leonard was back.
Over 15 legendary rounds, in one of the closest-to-call fights ever, Leonard got the nod that enraged Hagler so much he quit – with no comeback.
He had the audacity to pop up to light-heavyweight next – stuffing coins in his pocket to appear beefier at the weigh-in – and beat Danny Lalonde.
A rematch draw against Hearns was more than a gift and the 1997 KO loss to Hector Camacho – with Leonard aged 40, after a six-year lay-off – was thankfully the end of his genius.
Super-welter to super-middle
Hiatus: 21 years
First record: 11-3
Sometimes a little career-break or holiday can be just the tonic. But the Hebew Hammer really pushed the envelope with his retirement.
The New Yorker had a promising career in the late 1980s but by ‘91 he had suffered three consecutive defeats and retired honourably.
That was until September 2012 when the 50-year-old announced his return with a second-round stoppage in Florida.
The super-fit veteran suffered a KO loss the following year but he had broken enough records to retire a very proud man.
Hiatus: Six years
First record: 19-0-2
Jack Johnson should have been the most celebrated athlete of his era but his blackness was deemed unforgivable during the early 1900s.
After every dirty was pulled to prevent Johnson from claiming his rightful crown, he finally claimed his title in 1908, only for rich bigots to pay undefeated Jeffries to come out of retirement and be their Great White Hope.
Inside boxing’s first purpose built stadium, Jeffries and Johnson prepared for a 45-rounder but thankfully the champ needed only 15.
Jeffries, now a 35-year-old shadow of his old self, was whacked hard by an uppercut in the fourth and Johsnon knew his comeback was finished from there.
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