OK, I miss Mike Tyson.
Maybe it’s the lack of inspiration I get from Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, particularly while they make more headlines discussing title fights than actually fighting them. Maybe it’s the residue of multiple months in quarantine, with the specter of many more on the way thanks to spiking numbers in Florida.
Or maybe I’m just getting old.
Whatever the catalyst, the more I recall fighting champions like Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe, the more I also ponder the “what might have been” exploits of the fourth and most viscerally dominant member of the era’s belt-copping quartet – Tyson.
And with the harangue of social media sycophants ringing in my ears – somehow reasoning that a few YouTube clips mean a soon-to-be 54-year-old can shake off 15 years of rust and compete with the best of today’s heavyweights – I can’t help but remember the hype that surrounded him since Day 1.
But regardless of future endeavors – and whether he can lure any of his old contemporaries or new rivals to join him in the 21st century circus – Tyson’s days as a legit main-eventer have surely ended.
And as I sit here well after the fact, it makes me a little sad.
Not because his persona was all that interesting or his presence is all that necessary.
I’ll forever insist that boxing is as good without him as it ever was with him.
To be honest, I'm lamenting his plea for renewed relevance for far more selfish reasons.
Mostly because he's the latest in a long line of icons from my formative years – the 1980s – to complete a run at the top, delivering yet another painfully clear signal that the torch has been passed and my own so-called "Glory Days" are more than likely gone for good.
It’s a tough pill to swallow when you’re prepping for birthday number… well, whatever.
Springsteen's mellowed from an arena rocker to an AARP folk singer. Reagan's dead. Gretzky, Elway and LT are retired. And the stadiums where I saw my first concert, my first baseball game and my first hockey fight have long since been reduced to vacant lots or parking garages.
To top it off, my hometown of Niagara Falls has gone from vibrant tourist center to blighted war zone.
Of course, Tyson was hardly the guy I'd have chosen to carry the flag for my decade anyway. Rightly or wrongly, though, he was its most feared fighter. He was the guy who got keyboards clicking. And he was the guy around whom the heavyweights revolved for at least a couple of years.
But let’s get one thing straight… I never was a fan.
Even when he was decking the Marvis Fraziers and Jesse Fergusons on the way up and brutalizing the Trevor Berbicks and Tony Tuckers to capture belts once he'd arrived, I was always among those insisting Tyson was winning as much due to timing as talent.
Did he dismantle any foes that no one else could deal with? No.
Did he show championship mettle by facing adversity and winning anyway? Never.
Did he ever win a fight he wasn’t almost unanimously forecast to win? Not so much.
Had he shown up five years earlier, a prime Larry Holmes would have slapped him like a child. Had it been 10 years, a menacing George Foreman would have swatted him like a gnat.
And don't even begin to imagine 15 or 20 years prior, when Muhammad Ali would've danced endless circles around his dizzied form while sharpshooting him into oblivion.
Sorry folks. You had to be told.
Still, Tyson was the man for a while. He devoured whatever limping quarry they put in front of him and did it with a violence that inspired the non-sophisticates and a ferocity that made the experts give the slaughters at least a glimpse.
When he finally did lose – on a gloriously stunning February 1990 night in Tokyo – it set to motion the segment where curiosity replaced carnage and immaturity outdid invincibility. And though he did capture a recognized title later on in the 90s, the 80s aura was permanently altered.
No longer was he a killing machine who'd tried to drive an opponent's nose into his brain during a nationally televised beat down. Instead, he was a loudmouth bully who talked a good game but came up embarrassingly short at put up/shut up time.
Holyfield whipped him twice. Lewis punished him after that.
And even after they were hand-picked from mediocrity while greedy handlers traced a path back to big-money purses, mid-level clubbers like Danny Williams and Kevin McBride were able to do it as well.
In doing so, they put a few more calendar pages between now and then.
Some call it wasted potential. Some blame the evils of greed and excess.
Others like me say it was never all it appeared to be in the first place.
But regardless of the words being used or excuses being made, we all no doubt agree that an unforgettable show has ended, leaving us better in terms of behavior but woefully short on “it” factor.
I never liked you, Mike.
But somehow, I really miss you.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
Last week's picks: None
2020 picks record: 14-3 (82.3 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,130-368 (75.4 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.