From one destructive heavyweight knockout artist to another, Mike Tyson can relate to the current plight of former titlist Deontay Wilder.
That’s why he’s not particularly concerned about the current path being traveled by the hulking heavyweight from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
“I had excuses for Buster Douglas too,” Tyson laughed off during a recent interview on Inside Boxing Live with Dan Canobbio. “That's just the process we go through. It's going to be alright.”
Wilder (42-1-1, 41KOs) has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, if not for the wrong reasons in the months following his 7th round stoppage loss to Tyson Fury in their rematch this past February. The immediate aftermath of their heavyweight championship fight from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas saw Wilder blame the lone defeat of his career on a variety of reasons, including his being weakened by the weight of a costume tributing Black History Month as he made the lengthy ring walk ahead of their Pay-Per-View headliner.
In more recent times, Wilder has accused England’s Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs) of loading his gloves with a foreign object and manipulating his gloves so that his fist was positioned below the padding. Somehow even topping that is the dangerous claim that his now former trainer Mark Breland convinced him to drink spiked water prior to the fight which—more so than his pre-fight ring attire—sapped his strength.
The public reaction has ranged from being laughed off to genuine concern shown for Wilder’s current mental state. Tyson clearly lands closer to the former, having gone through it all during his own Hall of Fame career. The former undisputed heavyweight champion eventually found a way to move past his 10th round knockout loss to James ‘Buster’ Douglas in February 1990, though not regaining a piece of the heavyweight crown until 1996, less than a year into his comeback after a three-year prison stint.
Now 54 years old, Tyson has moved past all of the anger which embodied a career spanning three decades. A more jolly version of the man once hailed as the Baddest Man on the Planet was found heading into his eight-round exhibition with fellow ring legend Roy Jones Jr., which ended in a draw on Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The belief, as he sees it, is that Wilder will eventually find his inner peace regardless of how things transpire through the balance of his pro career.
“This is what I learned from my mentor Cus D'Amato—don’t take this personal. That was my mistake, I sometimes took it personally,” admits Tyson. “Cus said, "If you take boxing personal, you're going to die lonely.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox