Who would win in a battle between two former heavyweight champions, the classic workman Joe Frazier or the explosive Mike Tyson? With similar styles and similar physiques, the match up is an oft discussed dream for many boxing fans.
Meet The Fighters
“Smokin'” Joe Frazier
32 (27) – 4 – 1
Height 5’11” Reach: 73″ Prime weight: 210 lbs
Heavyweight title reign: 4 successful defenses, including win over Muhammad Ali
“Iron” Mike Tyson
50 (44) – 6
Height: 5’10” Reach: 71″ Prime weight: 220 lbs
Heavyweight title reign: 2-time champion with 10 successful defenses
Frazier vs. Tyson
Joe Frazier only lost to two men in his career, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. Tyson fans point to the Foreman bouts, where Frazier was routed and repeatedly knocked down as evidence that Tyson too would be able to hurt and knock out Frazier. However, Frazier’s chin was actually quite good, as the Ali bouts demonstrate. Additionally, Foreman was a bigger – if less explosive – puncher than Mike Tyson, and more importantly, he was a much larger man.
Tyson and Frazier were essentially the same size, with Tyson being more heavily muscled and Frazier owning a slightly longer reach. And a young Mike Tyson deployed many of the signature tactics of Smokin’ Joe. He would bob and weave, slip inside and unleash a ferocious left hook.
One of the many classic boxing axioms though is that you don’t hook with a hooker. It means that when one fighter throws a great hook, you shouldn’t try to trade hooks with him, because his will surely land quicker, truer and harder. While Tyson’s left hook was lethal, Frazier’s left hook was one of the best heavyweight weapons of all time.
Joe Frazier also had an indomitable will – George Foreman had to knock him down six times in their first meeting to stop him. Mike Tyson on the other hand was a classic frontrunner, and could be bullied out of his game plan. He didn’t like it when people stood up to him, and he crumbled under the returned pressure. And pressure is what he would face from Joe Frazier (unlike what he faced from Marvis Frazier, Joe’s son and mainly a cruiserweight fighter whom Tyson knocked out in 1 round).
Frazier would get into Tyson’s face and would slip the majority of his shots. While the first half of the fight would see action going both ways, by the middle rounds Tyson would begin to be worn down and frustrated. Even if Tyson landed a solid and clean blow, Frazier would not be deterred. He would have to be knocked out cold to stop coming forward.
Frazier would continue to work on Tyson, alternating between digging body shots and vicious hooks to the head. Eventually, one of these hooks would be too much for Tyson to handle, and he’d go down for the count of 10 somewhere around the eighth or ninth round.
Joe Frazier had a more complete game than Mike Tyson, and a superior mental composition for an encounter such as this. In this proposed contest between two former heavyweight champions, Joe Frazier would win via knockout over Mike Tyson.