BOXING legend ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson was upset more than once during his iconic career and therefore knows all about the feeling of losing, as well as what it takes to regroup and bounce back.
Which is why Anthony Joshua, the latest heavyweight to succumb to an underdog and lose all he worked so hard to accumulate, could do well to listen to Tyson when the sport’s youngest ever heavyweight champion explains what’s required to get a career back up and running again.
Joshua, of course, relinquished his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles to Andy Ruiz Jnr after he was incredibly stopped inside seven rounds at Madison Square Garden, New York last month.
Now, as he prepares for a rematch set to take place in either November or December, Joshua has been issued words of advice from Tyson, famously shocked by James ‘Buster’ Douglas in 1990 and then Evander Holyfield six years later.
“He made a mistake, got hurt, and s*** happens,” Tyson said on his Hotboxin’ podcast. “He can win it back, though, but his mind has to be right. He ain’t gonna win it back if his mind’s f***ed up.
“His mind’s got to be right, and he has to dedicate his life to doing this. He’s got to stay away from himself. When we go training, we go away in the mountains, we’re staying away from ourselves and our thoughts. In the mountains away from everybody, just the animals and the woods and stuff, you’re facing your demons alone.”
Tyson continued: “His spirits appear well to you, but what’s going on in his mind? This stage in life is really what makes them. Because they already have money, now it’s all about: Who are you? Now you’re dealing with adversity. Who are you? What are you going to do now? Are you going to lay down now and say, ‘Hey, I don’t want no more?’
“Do you stay down and give it up? Or do you believe in it? You got any f***ing pride, n*****? What do you believe in? Do you believe in your ancestors? Your mother, your father, your kids? What do you believe in? What have you got to fight for?
“Then it’s up to him.”
Coming from a man like Tyson, presumably a hero of Joshua’s, it’s quite the rallying call. The dethroned champion should listen. And learn.
In other heavyweight news, Poland’s Artur Szpilka is in an Andy Ruiz Jnr State of Mind ahead of his fight this Saturday (July 20) against perennial contender Dereck Chisora.
In 2016, the skilful 30-year-old had a chance to dethrone WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder but fell short – read: he was brutally knocked out in the ninth round – following a decent start to the fight. Since then, he has been stopped inside four rounds by fellow Pole Adam Kownacki and has scored decisions wins over Dominick Guinn and Mariusz Wach.
Such is the shallow nature of the heavyweight division, Szpilka, should he beat Chisora, 30-9 (21), this weekend, will be right back in contention.
“The heavyweight division is now wide open,” he said. “We saw Andy Ruiz Jnr stop Anthony Joshua in New York a few weeks ago in a big upset. I believe that every top ten fighter now has a chance of winning a version of the heavyweight world title. However, my full focus is on Derek Chisora. I’m not thinking about anything else.
“Despite the eventual KO I think it was quite a good fight with Wilder. I had to fight with a broken hand from the fourth round onwards. Deontay finally got me in the ninth round but this is boxing. Up until that point I was very much in the fight and proved I can mix it at that level. I hope the best is still to come.”
Chisora, known for bringing the heat and entertainment, was last seen struggling for inspiration in a lacklustre 10-round fight against Senad Gashi in April. Admittedly, that performance had more to do with Gashi’s reticence than Chisora’s limitations, yet it remains to be seen if the 35-year-old Brit is still the fighter of old.
Szpilka, 22-3 (15), might not be anywhere near the top 10 right now but he is good enough to provide a far better barometer of Chisora’s progress than Gashi. That’s something at least.
“I have a lot of respect for Chisora,” he said. “He is a true warrior and he always fights to the final bell, so I’m ready and prepared for a tough fight. I chose this fight because we are both crazy men and it’s going to be a crazy fight.
“I know that people are talking about Chisora fighting Joseph Parker this autumn and I know Derek and his manager David Haye are trying to get under my skin by mentioning this. But I don’t want to get involved in this trash talk too much. I’ll answer them on July 20. My fists will do the talking.”
He talks a good game, but then so did Senad Gashi, otherwise known as ‘GachineGun’, and we all saw how that turned out. Fingers crossed Chisora gets a more willing opponent on Saturday evening.