Mike Tyson to Co-Host Saturday Night on HBO

One of boxing’s biggest names, Mike Tyson, returns to HBO this Saturday with the network debut of HBO Films' 'Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,' the one-man stage show directed by legendary filmmaker Spike Lee.  The film premieres Saturday, November 16 at 8:00 PM ET/PT, followed by an all-new episode of '24/7 Pacquiao/Rios' at 9:30 PM  and a World Championship Boxing super middleweight title showdown at 10:00 PM.

In addition to starring in his eponymous special, Tyson will also serve as co-host with HBO broadcaster Jim Lampley for the network's slate of entertainment and boxing programming on Saturday night. The pair will introduce the evening's programming lineup, with Tyson providing his inimitable candor.

Leading up to the debut of Tyson’s film, HBO Boxing insider Eric Raskin chronicled the highs and lows of Tyson's career in the ring.

On World Championship Boxing, Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), one of the sport’s premier fighters, returns to the ring after more than a year versus fast-rising super middleweight challenger Edwin Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs), 28, of Worcester, Mass.  Lampley will be joined ringside by Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr. to call the bout, while Tyson will join with a guest interview appearance.

Watch a preview of 'Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,' and follow HBO Boxing on Twitter and Facebook for updates throughout the night.

Mike Tyson's Original Stage

by Eric Raskin

  

Before he was a Broadway performer, an author, or the star of his own show, he was "Iron" Mike Tyson: the undisputed heavyweight champion at a time when that was still the most revered title in sports, one of the two most popular active athletes in the world (either narrowly ahead of or narrowly behind Michael Jordan), and, at times, a rubberneck-worthy spectacle unlike any other celebrity of his time. Tyson was, in every possible sense, a phenomenon.

'Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth' premieres Saturday night at 8 PM on HBO, offering a deeply personal look at that phenomenon through his older, wiser, and self-described "domesticated" eyes. Before the HBO debut of his one-man show, Inside HBO Boxing offers a look at five of his most memorable fights, ones that illustrate his journey from the most feared fighter on the planet, to the loser of the most shocking upset in sports history, to a sympathetic figure and still the biggest draw in the sport more than a decade after his prime ended. The reason audiences hang on Tyson's every word now is because of the talking his fists did then.

 

Tyson KO 2 Trevor Berbick, November 22, 1986

A 20-year-old Tyson was seeking to fulfill his late mentor Cus D'Amato's prophecy that he would become the youngest heavyweight champion ever, challenging for his first belt against Berbick, who in his previous fight upset Pinklon Thomas for a piece of the splintered title. Tyson's 25 knockouts in 27 wins without a defeat implied remarkable power, but he hadn't yet proven it against championship-caliber opposition. By the time he'd knocked Berbick down three times with a single left hook in the second round, there wasn't much left to doubt. Normal men don't reduce heavyweight titleholders to bumbling, stumbling, yoyo-ing knockout victims like that.


Tyson KO 4 Larry Holmes, January 22, 1988

It's a boxing ritual: the rising star decimating the faded legend. In the case of the former champ Holmes, it was a 38-year-old legend who hadn't fought in nearly two years, but who had never been soundly beaten in his career; his only defeats in 50 fights were a pair of razor-thin decisions to Michael Spinks. So if 21-year-old Tyson thrashed "The Easton Assassin," it would make a statement (if a somewhat predictable one). What transpired certainly qualified as a thrashing. Tyson dominated the first three rounds, Holmes enjoyed a few seconds of recaptured youth early in round four when he bounced on his toes and popped his famous jab, and then it all unraveledTyson's pressure, energy, and power producing three knockdowns, the final blow a right hand that flattened Holmes in a way that no one before (or in 24 more fights after) was able to do.


Tyson KO 1 Michael Spinks, June 27, 1988

This is Tyson at his most Tyson-esque, with intimidation setting his opponent up for defeat and then two-fisted fury completing the job. Spinks was the lineal heavyweight champion, undefeated in 31 bouts, and theoretically a threat to put a dent in Iron Mike. Little did most people realize he wasn't even a threat to survive the first round. A left uppercut and a right to the body dropped Spinks. When he rose, the very next punchanother short right handput him down for the 10 count. With that stunningly easy, 91-second win, Tyson secured not only the undisputed title but a perception of utter invincibility.


Buster Douglas KO 10 Tyson, February 11, 1990

Forget the USA hockey team beating the Soviets or Villanova winning the NCAA title. This was the longest long shot in sports history. Coming in, Douglas, was a 42-1 underdog, and a loser to the likes of Tony Tucker, Jesse Ferguson, Mike White, and David Bey. Yet he did the unthinkable against seemingly the most devastating force heavyweight boxing had ever known. In hindsight, we all know Tyson took the fight as lightly as every fan did, and Douglas somehow fought the perfect fight nobody knew he had in him. Buster kept the shorter Tyson on the end of his jab, hammered him with flush right hands, and won round after round. Even on his worst day, Tyson almost got the job done with a miracle uppercut in the eighth round, but Douglas just barely beat the count. Two rounds later, it was over, Tyson fishing for his mouthpiece as referee Octavio Meyran counted him out, kicking off the rapid descent of an icon.


Lennox Lewis KO 8 Tyson, June 8, 2002

Incredibly, it was not until his 55th pro fight that Tyson was listed as an underdog. And even at age 35 against a future-Hall of Famer in Lewis, he was considered a live underdog because the punch is the last thing to go. In a bout that broke all pay-per-view sales records, Tyson tried for one round to connect with that punch that would make him champion again. But once the first three minutes were up, it was all Lewis. Tyson's solid chin kept him in the fight, but Lewis pounded him until finally ending matters with two knockdowns in round eight. Tyson would fight again, but never at the championship level.

Fortunately, in a heartwarming twist no one ever really imagined, Tyson has found a way to matter without stepping into the ring. He is a star of stage and screen, an author, a boxing promoter, a rededicated family man, anddare we say it—a beloved celebrity. He was once trapped in a downward spiral, unable to escape a past about which he felt great shame. But the undisputed truth has set him free.

The Mike Tyson Reinvention Tour Rolls On

by Eric Raskin

Mike Tyson wasn’t supposed to be here. And I’m not talking about the fact that he’s relatively peaceful, happy, and successful in 2013. I’m talking about the fact that he’s alive in 2013.

If you were in a celebrity death pool in 1991, in 1998, in 2004—anytime in the past 25 years, really—then Tyson was sure to be a top pick. It’s a morbid thought, to be sure, but Tyson was such a troubled soul for so long that the idea of him reaching middle age always seemed remote.

And yet here he is, alive in 2013 at age 46. Oh, and also relatively peaceful, happy, and successful.

There might not be a better feel-good story in all of sports than Mike Tyson, not just the Baddest Man on the Planet but at times one of the Worst Men on the Planet, adjusting to life after boxing and finding a place for himself.

Bernard Goldberg’s profile of Tyson on the March 19 episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel was the latest stop on the Mike Tyson Reinvention Tour, and it underscored the point that has gradually become apparent over the last couple of years: this reinvention is real. Tyson isn’t evolving in the name of rebranding. He’s evolving in the name of maturity.

We’ve seen and heard plenty about the new Tyson in recent months, as he’s worked every form of media hyping his one-man show, “The Undisputed Truth.” But just when you think you’ve seen one too many vignettes on him, along comes one that shows you a little something more, peels back one additional layer. Such was the case in the closing minutes of Tyson’s interview with Goldberg, when the former heavyweight champ became too emotional to speak after the conversation turned to his daughter, Exodus, who died in 2009 at age four in a freak accident.

There have always been numerous ways to define Mike Tyson. Youngest heavyweight champion. Convicted rapist. Tabloid sensation. Ear biter. We should add to the list “father who had to bury a child.” It’s as important a piece of his story as any other, an experience that has reshaped his life path.

We learned other things about Tyson on Real Sports, besides just the fact that he gets choked up frequently (and sounds like Don Corleone when he does). We learned that his wife, Kiki, wrote the script for his one-man show and guides him through every performance via earpiece. We learned that every penny Tyson makes off the show goes straight to the IRS, to whom Tyson owes some number of millions of dollars that his wife declined to specify. We learned, thanks to the magic of high-definition closeups, that Tyson is finally showing a little bit of gray in his moustache and his soul patch.

And Goldberg learned personally that Tyson is no dummy, that he knows what the word “thespian” means and even where it’s derived from.

Tyson has long been a deeper thinker than most would be assume, and he’s more recently developed the eloquence to relay some of those thoughts effectively. If you ask me, he’d make a great color analyst for boxing broadcasts. Now that the days of Tyson being a threat to spend all night cussing into the microphone are over, he’s a bigger threat to provide entertainment and insight like no else can. Certainly the audiences paying to see “The Undisputed Truth” feel that way.

Eras & Icons: From Ali to Pacquaio/Mayweather

By Eric Raskin

Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson - Photo Credits: Will HartSports fans always want to know who's next. But it's important not to lose sight of who was last.

Through almost the entirety of the existence of HBO Boxing, there has been a clearly defined superstar carrying the sport, a man (or, sometimes, "men") who served as the face of the fight game. Here's a look at the fighters who ruled their eras, in the ring and at the box office, since the first boxing broadcasts on HBO in the early 1970s:

(RELATED: Eric Raskin examines the next generation of up-and-coming superstar hopefuls.)

Muhammad Ali: Arguably the most famous sports figure of all-time, Ali's inclusion on this list should require no explanation, even to the uninitiated. He was never the same as a fighter after 1975's "Thrilla in Manila," but Ali's star status remained unsurpassed up through his final bout.

Sugar Ray Leonard: While Ali was losing three of his last four fights between '78-'81, the Olympic gold medalist Leonard turned welterweight into boxing's glamour division. Undefeated heavyweight champ Larry Holmes played second fiddle to Sugar Ray throughout the first half of the '80s – even when Leonard was largely inactive.

Mike Tyson: There was some overlap with the Leonard era thanks to Sugar Ray's legendary comeback win over Marvin Hagler, but from the moment he won a piece of the heavyweight crown in '86, "Iron Mike" brought the worlds of tabloid journalism and sports journalism together like no one before.

Oscar De La Hoya: "The Golden Boy" began to emerge when Tyson was in jail, and broke through as the man to put boxing on his shoulders around the time Tyson's teeth replaced his fists as his weapons of choice. It's safe to say there's never been a fighter with a bigger female fan base than Oscar. But he also fought every great fighter of an exceptional era.

Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather: Together—but very much separately—the last two fighters to defeat De La Hoya have replaced him. Pacquiao drives pay-per-view sales with charm and dynamic offense; Mayweather does the same with a persona that many love to hate and a defense that few can penetrate.

Remembering Famous Trainers Angelo Dundee and Goody Petronelli

By Kieran Mulvaney

The principal focus of last Saturday’s World Championship Boxing broadcast was, of course, on the televised bouts, which in Nonito Donaire and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. featured two of the most popular of the current generation of pugilists.

But between the two contests, the emphasis shifted, and sadly so; because even as a young wave of fighters – the likes of Donaire, Adrien Broner, Gary Russell Jr, and others – prepares to assume its role in the spotlight, the past several months have seen one member after another of one of boxing’s golden ages leave the stage.

Joe Frazier, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, died in November in the same week that one of the greatest lighter-weight fighters of all time, Manny Pacquiao, prepared to meet his nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez. Smokin’ Joe was joined shortly afterward by another of the great crop of 1970s heavyweights, Ron Lyle, whose slugfest with George Foreman was the first fight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and remains one of the best.

And now, we have lost two heavyweights among trainers, with the passing of Goody Petronelli and Angelo Dundee.

Petronelli helped steer, at various times, the careers of fighters such as former middleweight and super middleweight Steve Collins, and unlikely Mike Tyson conqueror Kevin McBride. But, with his brother Pat he was best known for managing and training Marvelous Marvin Hagler, one of the very best middleweights ever to lace up the gloves (and one of the best southpaws to do so, which was directly attributable to Petronelli, who took the naturally right-handed fighter and turned him lefty). Hagler earned a middleweight shot later than he should have done – as Petronelli lamented, Hagler’s problem was that he was left-handed, black and good – and when his opportunity finally arrived, against Vito Antuofermo in November 1979, he had to be content with a draw. Ten months later, his turn came again, against new champion Alan Minter, and this time he would not leave his fate in the hands of the judges. Hagler bloodied Minter’s face over three rounds to annex the middleweight crown, a title he kept until he lost it in the final contest of his career, on April 6 1987.

His opponent in that fight was Sugar Ray Leonard, and Leonard’s trainer on that night, as throughout his career, was Angelo Dundee. If Petronelli was especially famed for his involvement with one great fighter, Dundee was forever celebrated for training two – Leonard and, before him, Muhammad Ali. When both had retired, he steered the second career of George Foreman, and was in his corner when Foreman shocked Michael Moorer and the world in 1994.

Hagler described Petronelli, a gentle and universally-loved figure, as an “unbelievably great human being”; much the same has been said repeatedly of Dundee, and with good reason. To speak with Dundee, even as he approached 90, was to speak with a man of genuine humility who seemed forever surprised and grateful that anybody would want to hear what he had to say. He loved boxing and everyone associated with it, and would not hesitate to help anybody – fighter, writer, trainer or spit-bucket carrier – who needed or wanted assistance or advice.

Twenty-five years after working in opposite corners, Petronelli and Dundee were united again, Petronelli leaving us on January 29 and Dundee passing away three days later. The world of boxing mourns their departure, but their achievements and their gentle personalities shall not soon be forgotten.

Larry Merchant Remembers Joe Frazier

By Kieran Mulvaney


Former heavyweight champion and Hall-of-Famer Joe Frazier died on Monday night, age 67. InsideHBOBoxing’s Kieran Mulvaney spoke to HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant, who began his career as a Philadelphia newspaperman, for his thoughts and recollections on the man who was surely the greatest fighter ever to come out of the City of Brotherly Love:

Joe Frazier was simply a terrific fighter. He fought in an all-out, aggressive, everything-on-the-line, pressure style that is rarely as successful as he was with it, at the level to which he brought it. Only two previous heavyweight champions, Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano, were as successful in that style, because it’s the hardest style to be successful with. Basically you’re putting your will, your nerve and whatever else you bring in terms of skill against another man’s, and taking the kind of enormous risks that invite disaster. You have to be able to walk through the fire to beat elite opponents. He was one of the rare ones who could do it.

Certainly, a reason he fought that way was his physical stature. I think it’s fair to say that how a man is made physically is a major part of how he fights. Dempsey and Marciano weighed between 180 and 190 pounds, and he fought in the low 200s at a time when heavyweights were getting bigger. He was relatively short, and to be successful, he had to fight in the hardest way there is to fight. Those kinds of fighters, especially when they are successful, are greatly admired. They take the biggest risks and they create the most excitement and drama. It’s a rare ability to be able to dedicate yourself in a way to be able to fight that way, to be able to take the punishment and keep going.

I have always likened fighting Joe Frazier to having an argument with someone who won’t stop talking. How do you answer? How do you reply? You’re on the defensive all the time. In the ring, the instinct for self-preservation often kicks in. When he fought Ali the first time, I called him ‘The Truth Machine.’ He would find out the truth about you, what you really had inside of you. If you were a boxer, did you also have the intestinal fortitude to stay in there with that man and try to cope with this force coming at you? If you were a puncher, were you able to trade shots with him and see who the better man was in that regard?

I would not have remembered this, but someone called me today and read me the lede I had written for the Ali-Frazier fight: “You can’t con Joe Frazier. He won’t allow it.” And if you couldn’t con Joe, Joe also wouldn’t try to con you. I said Joe was a truth machine, and that was the case outside the ring too. He basically told the truth about the way he felt about Ali, whatever the reasons were that he had those feelings. But everyone knew him as a good guy, as much as we can get to know a public figure.

I always thought of him as this fellow whose parents were sharecroppers, who came out of the poorest farm community, and who understood that you reap what you sow in terms of the effort you put into things. He came to Philadelphia to be a fighter, as many others – including, at some point, Ali, did – to learn his craft, and he learned it well.

Somebody once asked me: What would have happened if Frazier fought Mike Tyson? Because Tyson was a guy who tried to fight that same way as Frazier did. And I said the difference between them was that Mike Tyson was a mile wide and an inch deep, whereas Frazier was a mile wide and a mile deep. It seemed that Joe Frazier had a bottomless reservoir of courage, determination and will.