Image Source: Mike Tyson, Royce Gracie/ Instagram
In the late 80s and the 90s, Mike Tyson was the biggest name in boxing. At the age of 20, Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion of all time and boasted an undefeated record of 28-0. Out of those 28 fights, only two fights went to the distance, thanks to Tyson’s explosive power and godly speed. So, it was shocked many when he was defeated by Buster Douglas in February 1990 in Japan. Despite that, Tyson was still the face of boxing and went on an impressive nine-fight win streak after the Douglas clash.
In comparison to boxing, MMA was new at that time and was ruled by the Gracie family, who many credit for the formation of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. When Tyson was serving jail time over rape charges, UFC entered the combat sports scene, with the first-ever event taking place in 1993. Royce Gracie won the inaugural tournament, by submitting three fighters, including the legendary Ken Shamrock, shocking everyone. Because of this, Gracie was hailed as the greatest MMA fighter of all time, with some MMA fans asking the GOAT to fight Tyson.
However, MMA was still a new sport to many and was not even close to boxing when it came to generating revenue. But Royce saw the opportunity to change that by challenging Iron Mike himself. In a memoir by Fiaz Rafiq named, “To The Top: Enter the Octagon, the Ring and Entertainment,” the sportswriter claimed that Gracie never accepted Tyson as the best fighter because Tyson knew only boxing, while Gracie was defeating fighters in the UFC who came from different backgrounds and had different fighting styles.
Rafiq claimed that Royce Gracie desperately wanted to fight Mike Tyson and used to prove the former heavyweight champion “into accepting a real fight in a no-holds-barred setting”. “To settle the matter once and for all, Royce formally challenged the most feared boxer of our time to a fight to the finish (deathmatch), and so did his elder brother Rickson,” he added. Sadly, Tyson declined the challenge, ending the feud.
In an interview with TMZ, Mike Tyson confirmed that his next fight will be against fellow veteran Lennox Lewis in September 2021. The two fighters have competed in the past, with the Lion retaining his WBC, IBF, IBO, The Ring and lineal heavyweight title via knockout in 2002.