George Foreman Once Admitted Why He Never Fought Mike Tyson: ‘That Guy Was a Nightmare’

Mike Tyson is widely regarded as one of the most feared boxers to ever step foot in the ring. Even though he’s relatively short, he dominated a heavyweight boxing division that featured many fighters that towered over him.

Tyson engaged in many iconic bouts over the course of his career, including matches against Trevor Berbick and Evander Holyfield. However, he never got the chance to take on boxing legend George Foreman, who many consider one of the greatest of all time.

Today, Foreman openly admits that a match between him and Tyson never occurred because he “didn’t want any parts of him.”  

George Foreman never wanted to fight Mike Tyson 

Mike Tyson is lifted into the air wearing the championship belt after defeating WBC heavyweight champion Frank Bruno
Mike Tyson is lifted into the air wearing the championship belt after defeating WBC heavyweight champion Frank Bruno | MIKE NELSON/AFP via Getty Images

In his prime, Tyson was a fast, aggressive fighter known for his lethal punching power. He only lost six matches over the course of his career and won 44 of his fights by knockout. As Foreman would admit in a 2019 interview with ESPN, Tyson’s fearsome fighting style terrified everybody in the boxing world. 

“I call him Mike Nightmare Tyson, that guy was a nightmare in the ring,” Foreman said. “I mean really. If he missed you with his left, then missed you with his right, he’d bite you. I didn’t want to have anything to do with that. I didn’t want him.” 

He says Mike Tyson was scared of him too 

Even though Foreman knew he didn’t want to step into the ring with Tyson, he also knew that Tyson was afraid of him for two reasons in particular. 

“I could really punch, and of course, I was an expert at punching downward,” Foreman, who stands six foot four, said. “My manager would hold a bag and he was down there, so I learned to really develop power from punches [for] guys who were down low. He was smart enough to understand that. As they got taller, my manager was not taller, so there was a deficiency there. But Tyson was very smart. Cus D’Amato and Tyson were a smart team, period.” 

Later in the interview, Foreman again admitted that he never wanted to take on Tyson. 

“That Mike Tyson was a monster. He was a monster,” Foreman reiterated. “Those are the kind of guys you see in a nightmare, and you wonder, ‘Wake up, wake up, wake up!’ And you wake up and say, ‘Phew, so glad that was a dream.’ I didn’t want any part of Mike Tyson. No way.”

George Foreman thinks Mike Tyson was one of the greatest of all time


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Despite fearing his in-ring abilities, Foreman had a deep respect for Tyson. He loved Tyson’s commitment to his technique and considers Tyson to be one of the best to ever do it. 

“I really admired Mike Tyson … he wasn’t that tall, that big, but he could hit you quick, real quick, and his footwork was outstanding as well,” Foreman added. “In his prime, there was nothing like him. If he had fought for another four years, winning, I would’ve put him number two to Joe Lewis.”

Today, Foreman loves the way Tyson has been able to turn his life around. He thinks Tyson is somebody that everyone can draw inspiration from.

“I love him because he’s strictly positive,” Foreman said. “He’s got nothing to say negative about anything. He’s having fun with life, and that’s what it’s really about anyway. Have some fun, get out … Mike Tyson is a great guy to look at. Look at his life. What a book, when he’s ready to write his own book.”