World class trainer Stacey McKinley continues with some of his in-depth recollections over one decade of working with Mike Tyson and shares some fascinating insights about the Tyson style, Tyson vs. Joe Louis and Tyson vs. Ali…
“I was wrapping his hands after I studied him right after I first started working with him. I couldn’t figure out his technique, where he got his technique from. Why was he so good at what he does? A lot of people think, Well he’s fighting like Joe Frazier, he’s fighting like Henry Armstrong. He does not. Joe Frazier bobs and weaves, Mike bobs and rolls. And that’s one thing I noticed about him. He’d make a U when he rolls, he doesn’t weave and bob. I was wondering where did he get that technique?
“I was wrapping his hands one day. He said, You know what Cus told me? That I couldn’t beat Joe Louis. Yeah? I think you could’ve beat Joe Louis. He said that Jack Blackburn was the greatest trainer that ever lived. Now when (Tyson) told me that, then I understood where he got his techniques from and I understood how much of a genius Cus was. What Cus really did was – Mike’s natural stance was like a boxing stance like Joe Louis. What he did was he took that stance and he reversed it. He reversed Mike. And when he reversed him it was hard to figure out. Well, what is this kid doing in the ring?
“For Cus to come up with that was totally genius. Mike, you know what? Now I understand. Because I knew Blackburn was from Detroit. So we all from Detroit, we’re all Detroit fighters. Eddie Futch, Jack Blackburn, we knew all those boxing guys worked together. That’s why we got a different technique for boxing. Cus learned from Blackburn. Mike ain’t but 5-foot-9 1/2. He ain’t 5-11. He took the perfect style and he reversed it. Mike doing the same thing Joe Louis was doing. Or those fighters that box with that style, but the only difference is it’s reversed. And once you learn it’s reversed, then I got a chance to know him. That’s when I got a chance to work all the different combinations that he used to throw and all that. And I had a better understanding. And again, it came at a time when I was wrapping his hands.
“And he asked me, What do you think about Joe Louis? I said, Mike, there was a time, me being a Detroit fighter, I would have told you, You couldn’t beat Joe Louis. I said, But now that I see how you fight and see the technique that you have, Joe Louis couldn’t beat you.
The subject fascinatingly turns to Muhammad Ali.
“I’m an Ali man. I came from the Ali era. We all crazy about Ali. Mike was never a braggart. But he was asked by our motivator Crocodile (Steve Fitch), Mike, do you think you could have beat Muhammad Ali? And Mike said, I’da kicked Ali’s butt. I’d knock Ali out. Now the Crocodile was like, Oh no, you couldn’t beat… But there was a time I would have believed that. But once I learned his technique and his power, in both hands, and his granite chin. And his mental capacity. I know right now that Mike Tyson would have beat Muhammad Ali.
“Now there was a time I didn’t know I never would have gave you that. The only guy I think he would have had a big problem with – and Cus told him too – was George Foreman. Because of his size and his power. And he told me that Cus told him, Never fight George Foreman. Too big and too strong. That’s why he never fought George. Even when George was old he wouldn’t fight him. Because Cus told him that.
“But Mike’s style is – Kevin Rooney, maybe Teddy Atlas, but he been away too long, and me – are the only people alive today that know that style. And I learned it by studying and watching films. I used to have two monitors going all night long, 25 hours a day. Watching films on him, his different moves.
“And he told me once, Look – I wrapped his hands – Stacey – he did a spin move in the gym one day – that’s after five years at being with him. I never saw him do it before. He did a spin move in the gym. Hey Mike, What you doing? Where did you get that from? He said, Stacey, There’s a lot of shit I can do. That you ain’t ever seen. But I don’t have to use it. So I don’t have to do it. But the problem is I don’t have anybody to do it with or against. If he had a young Larry Holmes or Muhammad Ali or some of them guys – to bring the best out of him – shit, you’d have seen something.”