In the pre-fight discussion of Mike Tyson VS Quick Tillis, on ABC's Wide World of Sports, Jim Lampley and Alex Wallau talked about Iron Mike's future. It was the third of May, 1986, and Mike would be extended ten rounds for the very first time. At this point, his career was moving so fast it was almost impossible not to appreciate the momentum and sense destiny unfolding, as Lampley reminded us that instead of being compared to other prospects in the division, or even contenders, Mike was being compared instead to Frazier and Marciano. Jim and Alex had the following exchange, so typical throughout the majority of the heavyweight division's history when summing up an era, as a whole:
Jim Lampley, about Tyson's fast rise as a prospect: "Is he being rushed to stardom?"
Alex Wallau, as the expert analyst for ABC: "Well, I think it's difficult, Jim, to be sure about the ability of a nineteen-year-old fighter who's never met a world class opponent. But, in my opinion, Mike Tyson will be ready to fight for, and win the heavyweight championship of the world, by the end of this year. That may be more of a comment on the lack of talent in the heavyweight division than on Mike's ability."
The more things change, the more they stay the same. There's nearly always a perceived lack of talent in the division until people have to remember it as history, at which point it becomes significantly better and more easy to appreciate than whatever is going on in the present. It's always people wandering around, going "Look at all these interesting trees. I wonder where the forest is. Hey, there's a nice one. That could be part of a forest, one day."
Mike, having turned professional in 1985, would astoundingly win a major heavyweight title (first of many) by the end 1986, just as Wallau suspected. In addition to doing it as quickly as anyone, he would do it about as easily as anyone ever did. And he would clean out the division about as dominantly and quickly as anyone ever did, as well. But I don't think it was for lack of talent in the era. Rather, I think it was for a surplus of talent within Tyson. It's easy enough to confuse the two concepts when you're looking at them in real time.
Work that bag,
Basement Gym Boxing
This pre-fight spot on ABC has a current upload on Youtube here:
Direct page address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPD9OCDEQ5o
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