On June 28, 1997, Mike Tyson stunned the world when he took a bite out of Evander Holyfield's ear in the third round of their rematch. It was a new professional low for Tyson, who had a meteoric rise to champ at age 20 and experienced a tremendously popular reign.
Just five months removed from "bite-fight," I met Tyson by chance at a movie theater entrance in Bethesda, Maryland -- my hometown. I couldn't help myself and approached Tyson, introduced myself and reached out my hand. He shook my hand with perhaps the weakest handshake I've ever experienced, clearly signaling that he had no interest in speaking with me. At that moment, I wondered if I would ever see a GREAT heavyweight champ again in my lifetime... Someone who awed boxing fans and non-fans alike. Someone with the talent and bravado of Iron Mike. (Note: In recent years, Tyson has bravely taken steps to rehabilitate himself, and for that he deserves great credit.)
Two weeks ago, while visiting the new Everlast Lab in Hoboken to join a Core Flyte group fitness class, I met Deontay "The Bronze Bomber" Wilder and watched him show his stuff. Now, I have hope that the next great heavyweight champ is just around the corner.
Here are the 5 reasons that Wilder should give us all hope that he will be the next GREAT heavyweight:
1. Winning. He's won every bout. He's 31-0 in professional fights. That's 31 wins and 0 losses. Oh, and 0 draws.
2. Power. He's knocked out all his opponents. Yes, 31 knockouts. He's had brutally short fights. No one has lasted past the fourth round in the ring with him.
3. Charisma. When we met, he was confident, funny, gregarious and determined. Deontay's personality shines. He stands 6' 7" and has a mouth to match. Does personality matter in boxing? Absolutely.
4. Prime. At 28, he's had a lot of experience -- both as an amateur and as a professional. He took home the bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, leading to his "Bronze Bomber" moniker. He's ready now to take it to the next level.
5. American Pride. This is not based on misplaced patriotism; it's simply a fact that an American champ gets infinitely more attention than those from other countries. Boxing promotion, pay-per-view television, fight locations are all US-dominated. Once an American wins, interest skyrockets. Nearly all of the great heavyweight legends -- including Tyson, Holyfield, Louis, Foreman, Frazier and, The Greatest, Muhammad Ali -- have been American.
Of course, Wilder will have to win his next 2-3 fights to earn the title. Once he does, he will be a heavyweight sensation.
Great athletes like Wilder give us hope. We root for them. We live vicariously through them. We close our eyes and pretend we are as talented as they are. They motivate us mere mortals as we aspire to be like them.
We'd love to hear from you. Tell us about athletes you believe are on the cusp of greatness. Comment on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness or tweet us at @flytefitness.
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