Still looking for his pigeons

Something wasn’t quite right about the Lewis/Tyson fight last Saturday. Maybe it was the freakish undercard bouts. Maybe it was Tyson’s humiliating, bloody loss. Or maybe it was Tyson’s good behaviour.

I have to admit, I don’t really like boxing. Usually, it’s just two dumb-looking guys (exhibit a: Mike Tyson) with one pounding the shit (exhibit b: Lennox Lewis) out of the other (see exhibit a). Take, for example, the two undercard fights that night. Both featured boxers weighing less than me. Sure, they could still kick my ass, but it was like watching mostly naked, mostly hairless, mostlywimpy teenaged boys beat on each other. While that may be a turn on for some, it’s of no interest to me.

Tyson fights are usually more compelling, in a freak show way. Like a bearded lady or a rubber man, I expect to be repulsed by Iron Mike. He makes you cover your eyes with your hands, while unblinkingly staring through the cracks between your fingers so you don’t miss a thing.

Last Saturday, however, it was like the lady shaved and the man stiffened up–the freak had gone out of the show. While it may be bad for the sport of boxing when Tyson gnaws on his opponent’s ears, tries to break arms, or tries to punch someone’s nose through their head, it’s good entertainment. Tyson may be bad for the sport’s credibility, but he’s also the biggest draw–even when he’s as rusty and slow as he was against Lewis. What does that say about boxing? That it’s boring. What does it say about people? That we still like freaks, that we still like violence, that we still like blood.

Sadly, Tyson doesn’t offer much fun anymore. Possibly he was just too busy having his face mutilated to sink his teeth into Lewis’ extraneous body parts. I think it was something else, though. After the fight, Tyson thanked everyone for the opportunity to get a paycheck. This match wasn’t sanctioned in Nevada or a score of other states; only Tennessee would have him. If he’d sunk his teeth into Lewis this time around, not even Memphis would let him fight again. With his millions in debt, he needs to box–which is exactly the problem. No authorities will let Tyson fight if he stays crazy, but no one will watch the tired pugilist fight if he doesn’t act mad.

If he keeps the sweetheart routine up–like wiping blood off Lewis’ face post-fight, kissing Lewis’ mom, or taking off his "hand" to Lewis–he’ll become as boring as the undercard matches and slip into a place he calls "Bolivian." If he can’t be a draw in the ring, someone please get him on a talk show–there seems to be some entertainment left in him yet.