What we remember most about Mike Tyson

When it comes to the enigmatic Mike Tyson, everyone has an opinion.

Originally Published: April 30, 2008
ESPN.com

Mike TysonClive Brunskill/Getty ImagesLove him or hate him, chances are, you're still talking about Mike Tyson.
When it comes to the enigmatic Mike Tyson, everyone has an opinion. Will he go down as a great heavyweight, or as a waste of talent? Have his antics outside of the ring overshadowed his accomplishments inside of it? ESPN.com's boxing experts weighed in.

Because of the way things ended for him and because of the circus that was his life outside the ring, history will likely recall Tyson as something of a charismatic oddity who benefited from a particularly weak heavyweight era. It's an injustice: At his peak, he was a gifted heavyweight whose power and speed were unique among bigger men and, in my view, place him among the top 10 heavyweights in history. -- William Dettloff, Ring Magazine

When Tyson was young, he was a truly great fighter. Unfortunately, that part of his legacy has been obscured by what came later. -- Thomas Hauser, Secondsout.com

Tyson's greatest legacy is that everyone knows who he is. That's because he exploded into boxing (knocking out his first 19 opponents, a dozen in the first round) and became the youngest heavyweight champion ever, then imploded in society, and finally satisfied his detractors by getting knocked out by lesser opponents in his last two fights. -- Michael Hirsley, former boxing columnist of the Chicago Tribune

In his prime, Tyson was possibly the most destructive fighter in ring history for six rounds; after six rounds, there was always likely to be a problem if the other man was still there and fighting to win rather than just to survive. -- Graham Houston, Boxing Monthly

Tyson will be remembered as the fighter who had many of his opponents quaking in their boxing shoes before the opening bell -- lest we forget how many times Frank Bruno did the sign of the cross when he took the ring walk heading into their March 1996 rematch. -- Robert Morales, Long Beach Press-Telegram

Sadly, Tyson will be remembered as much for the caricature he became as for the fighter he was. At his peak, he was a phenomenon; he was boxing in the late '80s. But boxing is as much about mental strength as physical, and in that category, Tyson was sorely lacking. -- Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters

As boxing fans, we're programmed to have selective memories. The Tyson I choose to remember is the marauding Iron Mike of the late 1980s. The serrated eyes, the voracious attack, the whirlwind of hooks, crosses and uppercuts -- that version of Tyson would storm out of his corner at the sound of the bell and wouldn't stop until he had disconnected his opponent from his senses. -- Darius Ortiz, ESPN.com

Tyson's legacy is one of wasted talent. At one point, after he knocked out Michael Spinks, some believed he might someday go down as the greatest heavyweight of all time. Then came the shocking KO loss to Douglas, prison, the meltdown against Holyfield and all the other legal and financial problems. Oh, what could have been. -- Dan Rafael, ESPN.com

The one word that sums Tyson up best is "captivating." He was captivating for all the right reasons as an explosive young heavyweight champion, and he became captivating for all the wrong reasons as his life and career careened off track in a sad second act that, unfortunately, lasted quite a bit longer than the first act. -- Eric Raskin, Ring Magazine

Tyson will go down in history as one of the greatest wastes of boxing potential ever. He had the kind of concussive KO power that put fannies in the seats, but once his veil of invincibility was ripped away he had no boxing skills to fall back upon. He'll go down in history as the biggest boxing attraction ever. -- Tim Smith, N.Y. Daily News

Tyson was the unstoppable force and the immovable object colliding inside one person, nobody knowing what would happen next. He was Superman and Evil Superman, disoriented and broken by kryptonite that was given to him as a gift by characters with selfish intentions. -- Don Steinberg, The Philadelphia Inquirer

We tend to forget that before Tyson became boxing's scapegoat, he was the sport's savior. As Ray Leonard and Larry Holmes ended their careers, Tyson picked up the slack and made boxing bigger than it had been for quite some time. In a way, he was every heavyweight from the past rolled into one; he had the explosiveness of Jack Dempsey, the menace of Sonny Liston, the star appeal of Joe Louis and the social skills of Leon Spinks. -- Don Stradley, Ring Magazine

I was at so many of his early fights in upstate New York. The Tyson I will always remember is the most devastatingly destructive and intimidating force I have ever witnessed in sports. When he came to the ring, you could breathe in fear. He created a visceral reaction and energy beyond what any pro athlete has been capable of since -- and perhaps ever did. Then it was gone: the energy, the reactions, the fear. But the Tyson who fought in Albany, Troy and Glens Falls was nearly indescribable. You had to truly experience it. -- Joe Tessitore, ESPN

We'll never know how good Tyson might have been. When he should have been entering his prime, he was already being disillusioned by bad management, bad relationships and an inability to deal with wealth and fame. Ultimately, Tyson is one of boxing's sad stories. -- George Willis, N.Y. Post

How do you remember Mike Tyson? Will he go down as one of the best heavyweights to lace 'em up? Discuss your thoughts here.