It is never pleasant to watch a once-great sportsman struggle down the stretch.

Wonderful careers can come to a rather unflattering finish. Legacies can even become a little tarnished. The problem is the one opponent even the very best cannot beat is Father Time.

NBA legend Michael Jordan won’t be remembered for his years with the Washington Wizards, that’s for sure. Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl in his final NFL appearance, but he was a shadow of the quarterback he once was [insert joke about his dodgy throwing arm here].

In boxing, having to watch a former star dip toward retirement can be brutal. It is a sport that shows little mercy, no matter what you have achieved in the past.

Mike Tyson’s last fight made for particularly painful viewing.

On June 11, 2005, the fighter once dubbed The Baddest Man on the Planet stepped between the ropes to take on Kevin McBride, an Irish-born heavyweight who had spent the majority of his pro career in the United States. He wasn’t particularly well known on either side of the Atlantic.

Here, Bleacher Report looks back at the final chapter of Tyson’s see-saw story.

 

The background


KAREN BLEIER/Getty Images

Mike Tyson’s ring return had more to do with his financial issues than his desire to fight.

McBride realised fighting Tyson was an offer he simply couldn’t refuse. Win, lose or draw, this was likely to be the highlight of his professional career (and so it proved).

The Clones Colossus had represented Ireland at the 1992 Summer Olympics during his amateur days.

He received a bye in the opening round of the super heavyweight tournament in Barcelona, only to lose 21-1 against Czechoslovakian Peter Hrivnak in his first fight at the Games.

Before the end of the same year McBride had joined the paid ranks. He plodded along yet struggled to register a ripple on the world scene.

Ahead of his clash with Tyson, the giant Irishman had at least reeled off seven wins on the spin—albeit against limited opposition.

In the opposite corner was a man who was in it simply for the money.

Tyson—who filed for bankruptcy in 2003—had only fought three times in the past three years. Two of those outings had seen him suffer defeats against British opponents.

While there was no disgrace in losing to world champion Lennox Lewis in 2002, very few expected him to be come a cropper against journeyman Danny Williams just over two years later.


LAWRENCE JACKSON/Associated Press

Kevin McBride competed at the 1992 Olympics.

That could, perhaps really should, have been the end for Iron Mike. However, his financial issues meant he had to fight on.

According to BoxRec, he earned a purse of $5.5 million for the bout at the MCI Center in Washington D.C. However, he received just $250,000 of the fee, with the rest going to a lengthy list of creditors.

Despite disappointing against Williams 11 months earlier, some of the old Tyson spirit still remained.

At a pre-fight press conference, the former undisputed world champion made sure he gave the waiting media yet another soundbite.

Asked how the fight against McBride would go, he replied: “I’ll gut him like a fish.”

Yet his mouth was spouting words his body could no longer back up. At 38, Tyson was on the decline. He had not only lost some of his physical abilities, but the unbeatable aura that once surrounded him had long since disappeared.

He parted ways with Freddie Roach—who had trained him for his last two bouts—and hired Australian Jeff Fenech, a former three-weight world champion.

It was a move meant to reinvigorate Tyson in the twilight of his career.

It turned out to be the boxing equivalent of trying to clean up after heavy flooding with nothing but a tea towel. The problem wasn’t who was in the corner—it was the shell of the man sent out to fight.

 

The Fight

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