BOXING legend Mike Tyson has paid tribute to his idol Muhammad Ali on social media with an incredible throwback photo.
As a young up-and-comer, former undisputed heavyweight king Tyson idolised The Greatest – watching his legendary career on TV and on old videos.
Tyson still holds the late Ali – who passed away in June 2016 – in the highest regard and further expressed his admiration for the sporting icon by uploading an old photo of themselves to Instagram.
His accompanying caption read: “Still a fan @muhammadali #thegreatest.”
A 14-year-old Tyson watched his hero in action in 1980 in the penultimate fight of his career, which pitted him against then WBC heavyweight champion Larry Holmes.
A 38-year-old Ali was battered by a ferocious Holmes before retiring at the end of the tenth round.
Tyson – who attended the Vegas fight with his mentor Cus D’Amato – was heartbroken, saying: “I was offended by how bad he beat up Ali.
“When we drove home to Catskill [about an hour from Albany], nobody in the car said a word, we were all so upset.”
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But little did Iron Mike know he would end up speaking to his hero on the phone the very next day.
Tyson added: “He said to Ali, ‘I have this young black kid who is going to be heavyweight champion someday and I want you to talk to him.”
In that phone call, a young Tyson vowed to exact revenge on Holmes – whom he’d decimate eight years later.
He told Ali: “When I grow up, I’ll fight Holmes and I’ll get him back for you.”
For decades, boxing fans have wondered how a fight between a prime Ali and prime Tyson would go.
But for Tyson, the answer to that often-asked question is a simple one.
He told Yahoo Sports: “I know it’s a fantasy game.
“Most likely I would win the fantasy, but I wouldn’t win the real fight. Ali’s the greatest there’s ever been.”
Tyson is regarded by many to be the most ferocious fighter in the history of the sport but reckons Ali’s tenacity was greater than his.
In 2016, he told GQ: “He’ll fight you to the end. He’s really game, like a pitbull or a f*****g rooster.
“But he looked like a model in his prime! He looked more like a model than a fighter.
“He was just a dead-game guy. He was dead game. He had too much pride. He refused to lose.”
He added: “Ali is the most competitive fighter ever.”
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