Like an aging singer in concert, Tyson gave his fans what they paid for golden oldies. From rounds 2 through 6, he resorted to the tactic that made him the world's most feared and recognizable athlete from 1985 to 1990. He used to work himself into a pit-bull rage and try to maul his opponent at the opening bell. His goal was to either beat or scare the other man to death, and the result was often an early knockout.
He was all intimidating offense and very little skilled defense. That's why I can't rank him as an all-time great heavyweight that, and the fact that he didn't beat a single great heavyweight in that man's prime.
But no, Tyson worshippers, I certainly can't blame Tyson for his lack of competition. He didn't duck anybody nor did he need to duck much during his first five years of fighting.
But as he readily admitted after Saturday night's fight, his career basically ended with his shocking loss to Buster Douglas. From then on, Tyson slowly turned into more of a boxing spectacle than a boxer.
The prefight and postfight interviews are often at least as captivating as the "boxing." The only night I truly admired Tyson in the ring was against Lennox Lewis, an NBA-sized fighter whose skills are vastly superior to Tyson's. Lewis put on a clinic that sent Tyson to a clinic. Tyson had no chance, but Tyson stood up to an unholy beating before going down in the eighth round.
After that fight, a humbled Tyson said that was enough it was time to retire and spend time with his kids.
That was four "fights" ago.
Yet on an entertainment scale of 10, I gave the Lewis "fight" a seven and the McBride "fight" a nine.
When Tyson tried to maul Ireland's "finest," it was immediately clear that Tyson's sweeping punches had all the impact of a pillow in a pillow fight. When McBride realized this former lion is now indeed a paper tiger, he began to lean on Tyson and mix it up in close with the much smaller man.
McBride is listed at 6-foot-6, Tyson at 5-11. I'd barely give Tyson 5-10.
So in a sixth-round clinch, Tyson got desperate and went "street" on McBride. After all, as Tyson readily admits, this is what many customers pay to see. When Tyson began trying to twist and snap McBride's arm, it appeared for a moment that Tyson's mouth was approaching McBride's ear.
"He's biting the guy!" I heard from my crowd, who hoped deep down they were witnessing a replay of Tyson going cannibal on Evander Holyfield's ear.
No such luck.
Yet the subsequent savage head butt was almost as shock-value satisfying. Now McBride was in trouble. Or so you thought.
Talk about shock value. Hitchcock had nothing on Tyson.
When you least expected it, Tyson gave way under McBride's 271-pound tonnage and wound up sitting on his butt with his head supported by the bottom rope. No single blow appeared to drop him. He didn't appear hurt, just physically or psychologically weary.
Yet Tyson, 38, looked to be for an historically lazy Tyson in great shape. "I can get myself in shape," he said later. "I just can't do the boxing I felt like I was 120 years old."