But it’s Mike F****** Tyson

Take it from me,

It’s hip to be square

Huey Lewis, Songwriter, 1967-

I’ll have to whisper. So come a little closer. Now, look, this thing Saturday. Yer know, the fight. No, not that one. The other one. Yeh. That one. Well, I know all the hipsters have had their say and I know it’s all a bit silly, but, well, how can I put this?

I’m a little bit excited.

I know it’s wrong. I know I’m meant to rise above it. Look down on it. Reject it. Yeh, yeh, 54, I know. I know. But it’s Tyson.

Mike ******* Tyson.

Don’t tell me you’re not watching it.

It’s funny, I spent most of the late nineties and almost the entire first decade of this century diminishing Mike Tyson. Disappearing down the black hole of debate on boxing forums and message boards that preceded the Twitterlution of the past ten years.

Tyson fans were easy prey. All fan bases, in the peculiar boxing ecosystem, evolve, ebb and flow as time goes by but Tyson’s following was almost a cult. However, old, tired, disinterested he became, believers remained. Every career is bumped and jostled by those who remained tied to their own bygone heroes, those who entirely immerse themselves in their current beau and another subset; the hipsters.

Within any successful fighter’s career there is usually hysteria and a detachment from reality for those who wave the flag hardest. It is in this partisan, often myopic, fandom that the crucible for doubt and alternative assessment is found. Defeat and age often make those who pour scorn on the merits of the fighter seem prophetic, for even fighters as good as Tyson lose in the end. It is the associated kudos of being proven right, against the consensus of the time, that attracts some to the path of the hipster but in the main, when the hysteria is most rampant, it is the evangelism of the masses that motivates an alternate view. The hip.

Social media has encouraged hipsters, given them a platform and a collective noun. Sincere, earnest, sometimes right, sometimes no less deluded than the fanatics and fantasists that push one star or another. I’ve been the hipster, perhaps you have too. Denigrated greats on one premise or another. Be it Calzaghe or Floyd or the ‘Iron’ Mike I believed missed all those punchers across his career.

Hipsters, whether for mischievous or pragmatic motive, scrutinise. Prick the balloon of belief and undermine the evidence of a fighter’s career. Often refuting the irrefutable. They also frequently take the moral high ground. I’ve stood there too by the way. Scoffed at people relishing MacGregor, forgotten the losses of the original Hitman, that would’ve beaten Floyd in two rounds in the Utopian arena of my mind.

Being a hipster is tiring. Trying to be hip is too. It is the sibling of cynicism after all. So, while acknowledging that fifty somethings shouldn’t be punching one another, that it is only the passage of 15 years that numbs the memory of how decrepit Tyson was when a big fella called Kevin left him on the floor or how complete the erosion of Jones Jnr. has been since Ruiz in ’03, it will be impossible to resist taking a peek at the two of them one more time.

I’m confident the spectacle will restore reality to the glow of our would be fairytale, remind us all of the electricity of their, and our, youth before immediately underlining their dulled middle age now. It is a whimsy, this fight, exhibition, call it what you will. It will be harmless.

But for those few seconds, if both play it straight and not for laughs, we will all be connected via our sensory pathways to the people we were and the time and place we were when first we witnessed their primes.

And that will be fun, it will be entertaining, however fleetingly and boxing, when all said and done, is an entertainment. A show.

Let us not judge, just enjoy.

Michael Spinks struggles to make a fist or steady his legs even before Mike Tyson arrives.


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