GEORGE FOREMAN has revealed that Muhammad Ali once admitted to him that he didn’t believe he could’ve beaten Mike Tyson in his prime.
Widely considered to be the two greatest heavyweight boxers of all time, many have passionately speculated as to who would have won if they’d met in their primes.
Muhammad Ali Jr believes that his father would have “kicked Tyson’s butt”… but the man himself wasn’t so sure.
Ali’s Rumble in the Jungle rival Foreman has made the revelation that Ali wasn’t so sure he’d have been able to beat the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ in his pomp.
Speaking to Fiaz Rafiq for his brand new book, Muhammad Ali: The Life of a Legend, Foreman made the stunning declaration.
He said: “Muhammad Ali told me himself.
“I said to him, ‘Do you think Tyson could beat anybody?’
“He said, ‘Man, Tyson hits so hard.’
“He felt Tyson hit harder than anyone he’d faced.
“He told me once that he didn’t have the confidence he could have beaten Mike Tyson.”
Veteran promoter Don King, who worked with both legendary fighters, also gives his opinion on comparisons between the pair in the brand new book.
The 88-year-old says: “They were both great heavyweights. Muhammad Ali had the blinding speed and he was a dancer in the ring. He was a fighter.
“He was a combination of things. He was emulating and imitating Sugar Ray Robinson, who was one of his idols.
“Ray Robinson, I think, was the best boxer of all time.
“Muhammad Ali made a heavyweight look like a middleweight the way he was fighting. Then he would coin all of his phrases and predictions.
“They would become exciting up to the countdown to see it. The people hated him or loved him.”
King, who was behind the promotions of the Rumble in the Jungle and Thrilla in Manilla, also had plenty to say on Tyson.
He continued: “Mike Tyson had awesome, devastating power.
“He was not the boxer that would be boxing and laughing – he was menacing. He was the guy that came in that they feared. You would be shivering in your bones. He would go out and seek and destroy.
“Ali would go another way. He would win with his skill, charm and wit.
“So these two guys were both great fighters. Mike Tyson, same thing – love him or hate him. But he was the menacing, devastating guy that wants to punch you so hard and put your nose up your brain.
“He was the kind of guy not to be loved like a guy like Muhammad Ali ended up being.
“But it was not that Ali wasn’t in the beginning, because he was excoriated and vilified, but he was still at a time when he was making a move to become recognised by people.”
The late, great Ali, who passed away in 2016, fought for the final time in 1981 – four years prior to Tyson lacing up the gloves professionally.
Of 61 professional fights, Ali won 56 – with three of his five defeats coming in his final four fights.
And of those losses, only those to Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick – who in a twist of fate was to be beaten by Tyson five years later with the WBC title on the line – in the final year of his career weren’t later avenged in subsequent rematches.
Tyson finished with a 50-6 record, similarly skewed by his last four fights aged 38.
Of his victories, an astonishing 44 came via knockout, as he established himself as the most feared fighter on the planet.
The veteran, now 53, is planning a comeback to the ring 15 years after retiring – to compete in exhibition bouts – with a number of high-profile contenders to face him having emerged.
- Muhammad Ali: The Life of a Legend by Fiaz Rafiq published by Arena is available now, £16.99. Visit here