The Club welcomes its newest member

Last weekend, another member joined The Club.

Yeah, you know the one—the club established by one-time world heavyweight boxing champion Trevor Berbick.

The club with such household names as Mitch Green, Marvis Frazier, James “Bonecrusher” Smith and Tyrell Biggs. And bigger-name members like Pinklon Thomas, Michael Spinks and, of course, Larry Holmes.

Yep, in case you missed it, Frank Bruno paid his dues and added his name to the semi-illustrious list of victims of current heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

Less than five rounds. That’s all the longer Bruno lasted.

And, let’s see now, that makes Tyson’s record 36-0 with 32—that’s right, thirty-two—knockouts. Pretty good stuff, huh?

Well, sort of.

It’s just that, that the club… well, it doesn’t quite do justice to some of the names of the past. Nowhere in the club are there names like Louis, Johnson, Tunney, Dempsey, Marciano or Liston. Or Joe Frazier for that matter.

Yes, one of Tyson’s victims, Larry Holmes, did hold the title for some time—and ran off a streak of 49 straight victories—but by the time he fought Tyson, he was nearly twice as old as Tyson, and at least six years past his prime.

Now don’t think for a New York minute that anyone here is cutting down the current title holder. At age 22, Tyson is clearly the best today, and may someday be considered the best fighter of all time.

But for those already mentioning Tyson in the same breath with, say a Muhammad Ali, I say hold on.

Without mentioning any records or achievements, it must first be noted that Tyson and Ali are not the only two heavyweights to be considered candidates for the top boxer. Strong cases can be made for Holmes (before his futile comeback attempt), Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano and Teofilo Stevenson. (Try telling your dad or anyone over 50 that Joe Louis isn’t No. 1 and you’ll never get out of the house.)

But when Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) came along, he brought with him a style of boxing that had never been seen before, and has never been so fully mastered since. Before Ali, boxing was a sport of brute force and endurance. Since his departure, the sport has been commonly described as more of a science—a combination of strength, endurance, dancing, speed and last but not least, psychology.

Meanwhile, Mr. Tyson has come along and pulverized most of his challengers in a matter of seconds. He hasn’t had to fight his way off the ropes, or make any dramatic comebacks. Maybe Ali just toyed with his foes. Or maybe Tyson is just that good.

But unless Tyson is still winning fights in 91 seconds at age 32, he won’t have given the sport as much as Ali did.

Sure, Ali was to boxing what Pete Rose and Franco Harris were to their sports. Like Rose and Harris, Ali undoubtedly stayed in the game long after he was at his best. But when Ali left the ring, people missed his style and grace.

If Tyson were to hang it up today, people would just turn more attention to “wrestling’s” Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Hulk Hogan. I’m sorry, but in Ali’s day, I find it hard to believe “Macho Man” and Hogan would have been anything more than Saturday morning UHF material.

And as for Tyson and Ali… Fifteen rounds. Tyson’s uppercuts hit nothing but air. Ali on points. Unanimously.