June 2005 by Tomas Rohan
Kevin McBride ended the career of Mike Tyson in Washington tonight with a stunning win that will shock the boxing world. McBride defied the critics to outlast the ageing Tyson forcing the former undisputed heavyweight champion to retire on his stool after six rounds.
With the “Greatest” Muhammad Ali looking on from ringside McBride made a mockery of most pre fight predictions while living up to his own promise of “shocking the world”.
Tyson went through his repertoire of dirty tricks throughout the six rounds mixing low blows and head butts with blatant attempts to break McBride’s arm. He could not break McBride’s will though and because of that Tyson’s own heart went out of the fight. At the end of the sixth round Tyson sagged to the canvas from sheer exhaustion and although not ruled a knockdown by referee Joe Cortez he took an age to rise and return to his corner. During the break Tyson’s trainer Jeff Fenech made the decision to pull his fighter out and Tyson his fighter had no complaints confirming afterwards that his boxing career was over.
McBride was led to the ring at the MCI Center Arena by pipers while Tyson made his usual no frills ring walk. The Monaghan man had promised that he wouldn’t be intimidated by the one time “Baddest man on the planet” and he certainly lived up to that taking the fight to Tyson in the opening round.
By even surviving the round McBride had surpassed the expectations of those boxing observers who had declared the fight a “bad joke”. It was McBride though who was intent on having the last laugh,
In the second session it became increasingly apparent that the fire and fury that had made Tyson such a fearsome fighter in the late 1980’s was now almost extinguished. The round also saw Tyson throw the first of what turned out to be countless low blows.
Tyson started the third with further rough house tactics betraying his frustration at his lack of success in the opening two rounds. The 38 year old improved as the round went on finally closing the distance and enjoying some success. It was clear though as Tyson trudged back to his corner at the end of the round that he was troubled by the fact that McBride was still there and punching back.
Another low blow early in the fourth round went unpunished from referee Cortez and McBride to his credit never complained. Tyson was finally beginning to show flashes of his famed power but the 32 year old Clones man was absorbing Tyson’s best punches without flinching.
Tyson opened the fifth round with another transgression of the Marquis of Queensberry Rules, this time it was a head butt that went unpunished from Cortez. Tyson spent the first two minutes of the attack targeting McBride’s body but the tide was about to turn in the Irishman’s favour.
Tyson’s early attack seemed to have left him a spent force as the round finished with McBride punishing Tyson on the ropes with a series on uppercuts. The tide had turned and Tyson knew it as he sat head bowed in his corner sensing that his career was slipping away from him.
Tyson resorted to desperation tactics in the sixth starting with a blatant attempt to break McBride’s left arm by holding it with his own left and then using his body weight to almost twist it out of his socket. That finally brought a warning from referee Cortez but unperturbed Tyson continued to foul with a deliberate head butt opening up a gash over the Irishman’s left eye. At this point Cortez decided to deduct two points from Tyson but it was clear now that this was not going to the scorecards. Tyson looked on the verge of both exhaustion and disqualification and although he was still landing some good shots McBride was more than happy to stand and exchange with him.
As in the previous round McBride weathered the storm and by the last half minute of the round he was starting to find the target with his uppercuts again. Then just on the bell he landed a left jab and left hook and leaned on Tyson causing him to collapse to the seat of his trunks. Cortez said no knockdown but Tyson sat on the canvas looking like a spent force. He finally got back to his feet and trudged back to his corner where Jeff Fenech stopped the fight.
After the fight Tyson said, “I could have continued but I was getting beat on and I realised I don’t have it any more. I’ve got the ability to stay in shape but I don’t think I have the fighting guts anymore. I just don’t have it in my heart. I don’t have that ferocity, I’m not an animal anymore.”
Tyson then admitted, “I’m just fighting to take care of my bill basically.”
Trainer Jeff Fenech said that it was his decision to pull Tyson out saying, “I could see that he’d done his best. He did six rounds and he wouldn’t have been able to do that six or twelve months ago. A lot of great fighters have gone out on a loss. I want him to go out happy and proud and to be able to look after his children.”
McBride was naturally delighted having secured the win of his career. “I thought Mike was going to be fast and he was. He’s a warrior and I respect the man but I’m a warrior too and I came with a lot of heart from Ireland. I knew I was going to take him out and I did what I had to do.”
“It’s great for Ireland. We’ve been crying out for a heavyweight for a long time and I’m a legitimate heavyweight, a contender not a pretender. He was trying to break my arm and head butt me but that’s the rough tactics of boxing. He wasn’t getting his way with me because I’m a bigger stronger man and a bigger stronger man will always beat s smaller man and that’s what I showed tonight. I take a good shot and I’m just coming into my prime and I’ve a lot more to offer to boxing.”
Certainly McBride deserves tremendous credit for having proved all the doubters wrong and bringing down the curtain on Mike Tyson amazing career.
They will no doubt be celebrating in Clones just over 20 years after Barry McGuigan put the Monaghan town on the map with his World title win over Eusebio Pedroza. McGuigan was in New York this weekend for his induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame while McBride created his own piece of history in Washington tonight and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.