01 Apr

In the '80s, Tyson Wasn't the Right Fit for ESPN

Top Rank's promoter Bob Arum shared that in the mid-1980s, Mike Tyson did not meet ESPN's expectations.

"Back then, we were running weekly fight shows on ESPN. We did this for 15 years, essentially developing fighters on these shows. Tyson was just starting his career – we booked him for a series of fights. However, the problem was that he was such a terrifying boxer that he knocked out any opponent we found for him in just one round. This wasn't suitable for the network, which relied on selling commercial time.

Tyson had bad behavior outside the ring. The only way management could keep him out of trouble was to find opponents for him as often as possible. And we had all these boxers we included in the program. We couldn't afford to have Tyson fight on the show every week or every two weeks, so his management looked for opportunities elsewhere," Arum explained.

Tyson made his professional debut in 1985. That year, he fought 15 bouts. And in the following year, he added another 13.