Between Mike Tyson and George Foreman, who would win in a fight if both fighters were in their prime? – News Today

Between Mike Tyson and George Foreman, who would win in a fight if both fighters were in their prime?

George Foreman vs Mike Tyson

This question is interesting to me because Foreman and Tyson are often compared to each other. They were both brutal knockout artists, who blew their competition out of the ring with speed, power and skill. Both were greatly inspired by the terrifying ex-champion Sonny Liston, and tried to imitate his intimidating presence. However, stylistically, they could not be further apart.

Mike Tyson’s style

Mike Tyson’s style was heavily inspired by the great Hall of Fame inductee Jack Dempsey, who is best known for his first round destruction of the much taller Jess Willard. D’Amato called it his ‘Peek-a-Boo’ style, and it intended to aid the shorter fighter in taking out his taller opponent in quick and brutal fashion.

The D’Amato system is in short defined as slipping your opponent’s punch in a tight guard to get in position to counter with a power blow. However, there was much more to it than that.

The idea was to slip underneath or to the side of his opponent’s attack, square up, and throw a power blow. He would often force his opponents into a southpaw stance by moving past them, which left them both fighting with the right foot forward. This position always favored Tyson, because he was comfortable fighting with either foot forward, and could rapidly switch between them. He would also often place his right foot beside his opponent’s lead foot which left them both in a dangerous position.

The most crutial skill to master when using the Peek-a-Boo style, other than slipping punches, is free movement. Tyson had to be able to quickly switch stances and move away or forward at any angle.

Offensively, Tyson was a tremendous body puncher, and would focus most of his attention down stairs. This, along with his crouching stance, lead people to believe that Tyson was a swarmer, as D’Amato referred to them. However, Tyson was not an in fighter. He was a mid-range volume puncher.

Tyson’s best punches were easily his leaping left hook and his arching uppercut. When performing the first of the aforementioned punches, Tyson would start out by performing a movement that is very similar to the gazelle punch. He would duck down a little, before leaping into his left hook toward his opponent. However, Tyson would change into a Southpaw stance mid punch, which loaded the punch up with right hand like power, because of the extra rotation he gained. He would use this punch to intercept his opponent’s movements, no matter which way they were moving. Be it to the left, to the right or even backwards, Tyson would in most cases hit the mark, and either drop them or stop them dead in their tracks.

His arching uppercut was performed by twisting his upper body to the side and swaying his hips with the punch in an arching angle, which was perfect for piercing through the small opening in his opponents guard. He would mostly use it when his opponent tried to clinch.

George Foreman’s style

George Foreman’s style of fighting was originally taught to him by his mentor, sparring partner and idol, Sonny Liston. Liston taught Foreman the importance of the jab, and how to use it to set up power shots.

Foreman was in my opinion unfairly known as a rough brawler, lacking in technique, when in fact, most of his pressure was purely defensive. He had three main defensive techniques:

  1. Foreman utilized an extended “long guard” along with some old-school boxing techniques like leverage blocks, stops, frames, stiff arming and simply pushing his opponent. The long guard leaves the user especially susceptible to punches down the line, as it leaves the center line open. It also leaves the side of the head open, which means that you can hit the long guard user with hooks around their guard.
  2. Foreman would make up for this by being surprisingly agile and mobile for a man his size. Whenever he was unable to catch the punch with his extended guard, he would quickly sidestep out of harms way.
  3. Foreman utilized a few wrestling techniques on the inside to control his opponent, and put them in position for his massive uppercut. These techniques were likely taught to him by ‘The Old Mongoose’, Archie Moore, the legendary cross guard boxer with a record 132 knockouts.

Foreman had two goals in mind when performing these defensive actions, and that was either to maintain distance or to create openings for his Power shots. His main tool for getting in big blows was to knock his opponent off balance. Be it with a jab, a frame or even a simple push, it would always create an opening for his right or left to hit the mark.

It is hard to pin down Foreman’s best weapons, but I would have to say that his nr. 1 punch was his piston like jab. The first two shots that really wobbled Frazier were jabs. Angelo Dundee compared it to the devastating jab of Sonny Liston, and it really was a force to be reckoned with. It could be used for many purposes, mainly pushing his opponent back or hurting him, or putting his opponent of balance.

His most powerful blow was likely his atomic bomb right uppercut that quite literally lifted Frazier of his feet, before sending him crashing down to the canvas again. However, all of his blows were highly destructive forces of nature, and he could knock guys out with any kind of punch.

Comparing their physical traits

Mike Tyson had an impressive 5’10″, 218lbs frame composed of pure explosive muscle, and a 71″ reach. The impressive thing about Tyson’s physicality was his fast and powerful hands. He possessed knockout power in both hands and could still throw combinations so fast that they were up there with Muhammad Ali and Floyd Patterson as the three fastest pairs of hands in the heavyweight division. Tyson was like a stick of dynamite, that suddenly would explode and send his opponent crashing to the canvas. He had a wide neck and could take a hard punch.

George Foreman had a powerful 6′3″, 220lbs frame with a 78½” reach. He was extremely strong and explosive. His punches were actually really fast, but his combination punching was not. Foreman had one of the greatest chins in the history of the division and could take a punch from the hardest of hitters.

Each fighters best strategy coming into the fight

Mike’s best strategy would be to get in mid to close range and target the body of George Foreman with fast and hard combinations. He should take some inspiration from Joe Frazier and target Foreman’s hips along with his ribs and stomach. This will serve two main purposes which will give him a better chance later into the fight:

  1. The two fights Foreman lost during his first career were products of him tiring himself out, and his opponent capitalizing on his exhaustion. Targeting the body will help to tire Foreman out quicker, and will be crutial if Mike wants to win this.
  2. Foreman was, as previously stated, open to hooks around his long guard, and had to rely on his quick and agile movement to sidestep and get out of harms way. Targeting the hips will minimize your opponents movements and slow them down.

This tactic will help Tyson greatly. He should look for a knockout in the later part of the fight, when Foreman is tired and his movements have been minimized.

Foreman should try to keep Tyson out of range with his huge reach advantage. There isn’t much more to it than that. As long as Foreman can keep Tyson from getting on the inside, he should logically be able to take Tyson out. This can best be achieved by framing, shoving and using his stiff jab.

My prediction

*Sound the opening bell*

The fight opens with Tyson being the aggressor and Foreman trying to establish his defense. Tyson tries to get up close with Foreman in mid to close range where he can actually do some damage. However, his entry is blocked by Foreman framing off of Tyson’s shoulders and pushing Tyson past him, like a matador handling a bull. Tyson lands a few good left hooks up-stairs around Foreman’s long guard, but most of the shots get stopped by Foreman’s leverage guarding and stops.

After having established his defense, Foreman starts to pump out his piston jab. Tyson ducks under the jabs and gets in a few good body shots, but Foreman pushes him away with both hands. It doesn’t take long before one of Foreman’s jabs hits clean, and wobbles Tyson. Foreman starts going on the offensive.

At first, Mike is able to evade most of Foreman’s follow-up punches. After having recovered a bit, Tyson begins to work on getting on the inside again. However, Foreman lands another jab, and Mike loses his balance.

Foreman starts to chase Tyson around the ring. Tyson was never good at fighting on the back foot. Foreman’s jabs begin to land at will.

Eventually, after Tyson slips underneath Foreman’s jab, he gets caught by a monster uppercut which just drops him. He gets up quickly, but is visably shaken. Foreman goes in for the kill, swinging wide. Tyson uses his quick headmovement to duck under most of the incoming blows, and uses his tight boxing skills to land a good hook on Foreman’s temple which wobbles him a bit. Foreman pushes Mike back, and throws another jab, which staggers Tyson. He ducks under the next jab and gets caught with another uppercut, sending him crashing down to the canvas.

Tyson barely makes the count. There’s only half a minute left in the round, and Tyson only needs to survive a little longer. However, Foreman has broken Tyson’s psyche and he won’t let him get any time to recover. Foreman comes swinging at Tyson again, lands a big left hook and Tyson goes down for the third and final time.

First round TKO for Foreman

True and faulty comparisons

When discussing hypothetical match-ups, a useful technique is to look for similar match-ups that actually happened. The three fights that get mentioned the most when discussing Foreman vs Tyson are Foreman vs Frazier, Foreman vs Lyle and Liston vs Patterson.

However, Foreman vs Frazier is by far the best match, considering the opponents styles. Tyson was much more similar to Joe Frazier than he was to Ron Lyle (Lyle relied heavily on one-punch power-blows with little set-up), and Foreman was past his best when he fought Lyle, while he was in his absolute prime when he fought Frazier. Liston vs Patterson is also very interesting to me, because Tyson was actually more similar to Patterson than he was to Frazier. However, Patterson had a glass jaw, and Liston is a different beast.

Tyson and Frazier are of course different fighters. Frazier was a relentless swarmer, while Tyson was a cautious-aggressive pressure fighter who was best at mid range moving in. However, I believe they shared many of the same traits that would put them at a massive disadvantage against Foreman. Firstly, both were crouching fighters, and I do not think any crouching fighter in history would ever have a chance of beating prime Foreman, let alone making it to the final round. Secondly, both were highly aggressive fighters, who did not fight well on the back foot. Running right at Foreman is never ever a good idea. Ron Lyle also did well against Foreman, knocking him down a few times, but Foreman came back and finished Lyle to earn himself a knockout victory. Thirdly, both Tyson and Frazier relied on their headmovement and their ability to slip punches to keep them safe, which often leaves them in uppercut range, which is the most dangerous place you could possibly be when fighting George Foreman.

The biggest problem for Tyson would be Foreman’s great range control. All the guys that beat Tyson shared this trait. Sure, Tyson was great at mid-to-close range, but he wasn’t very effective at any other distance. Holyfield was a better swarmer and was better at controlling the range. Lewis was better at long range and could keep the fight there. I believe that Foreman would easily be able to do the same again considering his performance against Frazier. Keeping Frazier at long range was not an easy task. Even the Greatest, Muhammad Ali was not able to do that consistently. Foreman, however, seemed to easily be able to keep Frazier away from him. Tyson had an even shorter reach than Frazier.

What about old George Foreman?

George Foreman - Boxeur professionnel - Infos - Boxemag.com

When Foreman made the faithful desicion to return to boxing, after ten years out of the ring, he had to take a look at himself. He had lost his speed and allot of his strength and Power. If he wanted to make a comeback, he’d have to work on his boxing ability. He got Archie Moore to teach him how to use the cross guard effectively.

One of the biggest upgrades Foreman got technique wise was his jab, as it was far more versitile. He could now use it in many situations, like setting up his right with a flicker jab, using an up-jab on a crouching opponent, or throwing with intentions of hurting and pushing his opponent back. I still have to say that the Foreman of old had a better jab, because of the extra power and speed he had back then.

Foreman could use his cross guard in many situations, especially in close range. If his opponent got up close, he could either chose to lean on him or lift his head up with his forearm or shoving them to knock them off balance.

His most powerful blow was definitely the left uppercut. He would throw it when his opponent wasn’t expecting it at all, because of the lateral distance he had to travel to land and the angle he came towards them at. He also had a powerful 1-2, that knocked Michael Moorer out in route to becoming the heavyweight champion of the world again.

Foreman also joked that he did not have to worry about body shots because he had 40lbs of cheeseburgers protecting him.

What is to me the most impressive thing about Foreman in his comeback is his pre fight planning and strategy. He abandoned his cross guard in the Moorer fight because it left his hands in better position to counter, which shows a deep understanding of his own style. Foreman willingly held back for the first 9 rounds of the Moorer fight. This was done to make Moorer think that he could stand there and trade with Foreman. In the 10th, Foreman came out twice as strong, twice as fast and overall twice ass good. Moorer did not expect this and got knocked flat out.

Old George Foreman vs Mike Tyson

Foreman said in an interview that he would create a plan for the potential Tyson fight together with Muhammad Ali.

This tells me that Foreman would try to outreach Tyson and go for a late round stoppage. I am not too certain how this fight would go about. I do believe that Tyson would not be able to knock old Foreman out. If he wanted to beat him it would have to be via TKO or decision. The thing is – Foreman had a great chin, better than Tyson for sure. He displayed this in his fight with the much younger Holyfield, in which he took a grouling, 15-punch combination to the chin and remained standing. Holyfield could not knock Foreman out.

This hypothetical match up really isn’t fair no matter which version of Foreman you choose. Tyson was a great fighter in his own right, but Foreman would have such a gigantic stylistic advantage over Tyson, that I do not think he could ever have a hope of beating him.

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