Mike Tyson gave his thoughts on the prospect of trading punches against Muhammad Ali in a fantasy fight, with Iron Mike calling his hero a "vicious animal" and a "junkyard dog".
We should make it clear that coming from Mike Tyson, that is a compliment. Speaking on social media, the 53-year-old graphically outlined how he'd have to be ready to go to war against Ali.
"I would know one thing, I would have to be ready to go 15 rounds," said Iron Mike, as he praised his idol's legendary toughness.
"I would be prepared to go 15 rounds with him because listen: I'm just keeping it real, ain't nobody knocking him out. In his prime, they ain't knocking him out."
Given Tyson's destructive punch power, which once terrified championship-level heavyweights, it may seem shocking for him to admit that he couldn't KO Ali. But Tyson has always been a keen student of boxing history and it shines through in his words.
"Even [Larry] Holmes," he added. "Ali's one strange guy, you've gotta kill him to beat him, he won't quit.
"Isn't that weird? In his prime he looks like a model, he doesn't even look like a fighter. It ain't pretty, he's not pretty either - he's a junkyard dog with a pretty face.
"Inside he's as nasty as me. He's a vicious animal."
Defeat to Larry Holmes is the one time in Ali's career when the heavyweight, approaching 39 years old and far past his peak, was stopped inside the distance. But that was due to his corner pulling him out after 10 one-sided rounds rather than a clean knockout.
Ali's rock-solid chin and fighting tenacity were displayed throughout his career, so Tyson's assessment of their mythical matchup - one long speculated on by boxing fans - looks spot-on.
Despite how often their names were linked, particularly when Tyson was in his prime in the late 1980s, there was always a strong bond of respect between the pair.
Tyson even admitted, after crushing Trevor Berbick and later Holmes, that he was given extra motivation as those were the two heavyweights who defeated an ageing Ali at the end of his career.
Back in March, Tyson welled up when talking about his admiration for Ali, claiming: "Ali is a giant. There's no way other fighters can match him. He'd die for this sh*t. I'm not going to die for this. That's real talk. Ali is a savage, he's an animal. He's a different breed of person. He's not like us."
It's certainly true that while the preening, extrovert Ali couldn't have been more different from the menacing Iron Mike, he possessed an incredible fighting heart. Tyson preparing for a (fictional) 15-round scrap seems a very wise decision.
All imagery: PA Images
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