Joshua says Mike Tyson would have beaten Muhammad Ali
By Dan Ambrose: Anthony Joshua ruffled some feathers among boxing fans this week when he said Mike Tyson would have beaten legendary fighter Muhammad Ali (56-5, 37 KOs). Joshua
Joshua maintains that the heavyweights like Ali during his period were mainly cruiserweights, and they’re not as big as the guys that competed later. AJ sees Ali, who weighed between 207 and 215 in his prime, as a cruiserweight.
Tyson twice beaten by Holyfield
What Joshua fails to realize is that Tyson was twice beaten by former cruiserweight Evander Holyfield. Those losses showed that Tyson would struggle when he went up against guys that could take his punishment, and dish in return. That was one thing that Ali was superb at during his career. He had an excellent chin and was fast on his feet.
Ali was at his best in the early 1960s when he defeated Sonny Liston twice and was hard to hit due to his mobility. That version of Ali would have been a total nightmare for Tyson (55-6, 44 KOs), and would have given him a lot of problems.
The Ali that lost to Joe Frazier in their first fight in March 1971 was a different fighter than the guy that had beaten Liston, Floyd Patterson and Ernie Terrell. Ali lost three years of his career from 1967 to 1970 after he was banned from boxing for choosing not to be inducted into the armed services.
When Ali returned to the sport in 1970, he was slower and had lost a lot from his game. Although Ali was still mobile, he wasn’t as fast on his feet or with his hands as before.
The way that Ali was fighting from 1960 to 1967, he would have not only beaten Tyson, he would have embarrassed him. We would have likely seen Ali dominate Tyson the way he did against Cleveland Williams and Liston. Those were the two power punchers Ali fought during the first half of his career.
Ali wasn’t a full heavyweight
“Should we really be comparing two legends?” said Joshua to IFL TV when asked about a fight between Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali. “Do you want me to get scientific. It’s quite interesting because, in the era of Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight reign, the heavyweights were ranked as cruiserweight.
“So the Mike Tysons, Larry Holmes, George Foreman’s era. With Lennox Lewis [era], they [heavyweights] started getting bigger. Hence, in the amateurs, they created the super heavyweight division. So the heavyweight division in the amateurs is what we call the cruiserweight division,” said Joshua.
Ali wasn’t as big during his era as the heavyweights that fight today, but his size was close to the guys that fought during Tyson’s period. There weren’t a lot of big heavyweights with talent during Tyson’s prime years. The two that stood out were Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe. Both of those guys weighed in the 240s and were considerably more massive than the 220-lb Tyson.
Ali’s weight was close to Tyson’s, and he wouldn’t have had an issue with the small size difference. Moreover, Sonny Liston’s weight was similar to Tyson’s, and Ali had little problems against him. Liston’s power was on the same level as Tyson, and he had a better jab.
Frazier gave Ali problems with his Tyson-esque style
“Muhammad Ali went from light heavyweight and moved his way up. He wouldn’t have been a full-fledged heavyweight. Let’s say we bulked Muhammad Ali and put size and strength to him. I truly believe he [Tyson] would have won [against Ali]. The reason being when you watch the fight between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, you see a certain Tyson-esque to Joe Frazier’s style.
“He managed to put Ali down [in their first fight in 1971] in the fight. It was a very tough fight for Muhammad Ali. I just think Mike Tyson was better schooled because times had evolved was more developed. More science, more information. So I think Mike Tyson would have won in my humble opinion,” said Joshua.
Frazier was at his best when Ali first fought him in 1971, and he was a dangerous guy with his concussive left hook. When Ali fought Frazier, it was only his third fight back from being out of the ring for three years.
Ali arguably took the fight with Frazier before he had gotten all the cobwebs off his game from his long three-year layoff, and he still fought well. Again, this wasn’t the same Ali that had beaten Liston even years earlier in 1964, and he didn’t have the speed to evade the pressure that Frazier put on him in that fight.
For Ali to have done as well as he did against Frazier, it shows what an incredible talent he was. Ali fought Frazier to a standstill in the first 14 rounds of the bout. In the 15th, Ali got caught with a left hook that dropped him.
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