Mike Tyson is arguably the greatest boxer of his era, but he still recognizes the all-time champ.
During a visit to Michael Rapaport’s I Am Rapaport Stereo Podcast, Iron Mike shared his thoughts on Muhammad Ali’s final title fight, at age 38, against WBC champion Larry Holmes. Mike called Holmes a “splendid fighter” with a “great left jab” who drew influence from his sparring partner and opponent Ali.
“What made [Holmes] more special than anything was the internal fortitude. He was tough as nails. He got knocked down, he’d get back up and he’d fight you to the death. You know what I mean? And he got that from Ali — he was Ali’s sparring partner.”
Tyson went on to praise Ali’s determination to continue in the sport he loved, even as an “old man.”
“This is the thing about Ali: When we were watching him get beat up as an old man—even when I was a young kid—he’s not going to quit, you’ve got to kill him. He won’t quit. He was getting beat up every round, he had the sh*t kicked out of him by Larry Holmes. Is the champ done? No, come on, let me out. They wouldn’t stop. He had to stand up there and take the beating like a man. He wouldn’t quit.
“In that way, I respect the guy so much,” he continued. “I have so much admiration for the guy. So much, but it’s just not right to do that as a human being. Just say, ‘It’s over. I’ll come back another day. It’s over. You got me.’”
The Brooklyn-born heavyweight went on to say that although he always considered himself a beast, Ali’s willingness to die for what he loved and believed in truly set him apart.
“I always like to think I’m a bad motherf**ker. A vicious motherf**ker. I don’t give a f**k, but that’s the part where he, Ali, overshines me, because I can’t understand a man that’s willing to die for this. I talked the sh*t, but he’s the real deal.”
After taking a long pause, Tyson continued, “Ali is a giant. There’s no way other fighters can match him. He’d die for this sh*t. I’m not going to die for this. That’s real talk. Ali is a savage, he’s an animal. He’s a different breed of person. He’s not like us.”
Check out the clip below.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.