Few other sports create as many fairy-tale comeback stories as boxing, whether it’s Muhammad Ali returning from unjust incarceration to reclaim the heavyweight championship, Tyson Fury overcoming his mental demons to best Deontay Wilder, or Bernard Hopkins extending his reign as a top pound for pound fighter well into his later years.
Mike Tyson is the latest legend of the sport mooted for a money-spinning return, but here are some words of warning to long-retired fighters deluding themselves into thinking they still have what it takes, both from past fighters and other retired sportsmen alike.
There is nothing sadder than a shoo-in for the NFL hall of fame, ruining his legacy by refusing to admit he is over the hill, and that was exactly the fate that befell the great Brett Favre. Who knows if the same will happen to Tom Brady in Tampa Bay next season, with NFL tipsters still not sure how that career twilight story will play out.
Anyhow, with Favre’s best days at Green Bay long behind him, he made the strange decision to join the franchise’s biggest rivals Minnesota, turning in one passable season before stinking the place out in 2010, his throwing arm about as reliable as a bus in a Green Bay snow storm. After so many years out of the ring, the once baddest man on the planet would no doubt find his signature hooks and uppercuts have declined just as Favre’s spiral throw did.
Caption: There were certain perks of the game that Brett Favre just couldn’t let go of
Roy Jones Jnr.
During his peak Roy Jones was untouchable, blending blurring hand speed with fleet footedness and power to match. He went on to become a four-weight world champion but was particularly impressive as a middle and super-middleweight.
Unfortunately, it was years of feeling invincible that would be Jones’ downfall as he was never the same again after a defeat to Joe Calzaghe, and yet pushed on until he was brutally knocked out by Denis Lebedev. His punch resistance and reflexes obviously out of kilter, many expected him to retire, but he continued even further, losing to men like Enzo Maccarinelli, who previously wouldn’t have been fit to lace the great man’s boots.
During his career it could easily be argued that Mike Tyson himself went on too long, making a return seem all the more fraught with danger.
Caption: The lure of the bright lights and the baying crowd is impossible to resist for many sportsmen
Borg never had to endure punches and tackles to the head during his career and despite retiring at the fresh age of just 26, his long-awaited return eight years later was still viewed as a folly, as his renowned playboy lifestyle caught up with him and he failed to win a single ATP tour match. Like Borg, Iron Mike has hardly lived a clean lifestyle since his retirement, so the likelihood of him suffering the same humiliation would be high.