Doubts Arise: Ex-Coach Expresses Uncertainty About Mike Tyson’s Greatness in Boxing History

Mike Tyson’s boxing legacy has been sensationally called into question by one of his first trainers in the sport.

He won the WBA title in his next fight and then the IBF belt in the following bout before suffering a shock defeat to Buster Douglas.

Teddy Atlas, who coached Tyson as a youngster, has dropped his honest opinion about the boxing icon as he’s unsure if the fighter was ‘ever great’.

“I don’t know if he was ever great,” the American boxing coach said on the Lex Fridman Podcast. “I know he was sensational. I know he was the greatest mix of maybe speed and power ever. I know he was one of the greatest punchers from either side of the plate, left or right.

“There’s been great punchers with just the right hand like Earnie Shavers and Deontay Wilder and Max Baer. I don’t know if there’s ever been anyone who could punch as good as (Tyson) did on either side with either hand other than Joe Louis and a few others.”

Teddy Atlas giving instructions to Timothy Bradley. Image: Getty
Teddy Atlas giving instructions to Timothy Bradley. Image: Getty

Atlas added: “I don’t know if there’s ever been such a combination of speed and power to that pure level that he had, and it was a pure level. I don’t know if there was ever as good a fighter as Tyson was for maybe one night, he was great. He wasn’t tested, but he might have been ready to be tested that one night against Michael Spinks when he took him apart in 90 seconds.

“I think I saw a great fighter that night. I don’t think you can be great unless you have all the requirements of being great.”

After his shock defeat in Tokyo, ‘Iron’ Mike rattled off six wins before regaining the WBC world heavyweight title against. Frank Bruno. He then recaptured the WBA world heavyweight title in his subsequent fight.

However, he failed to string together more than three wins in a row afterwards as he lost to the likes of Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Danny Williams before calling time on his career after losing to Irish fighter Kevin McBride.

He’s widely regarded as one of the best fighters of his generation, but Atlas isn’t convinced.

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