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Don't call it a comeback: Mike Tyson has more than earned one last appearance on the big stage - OPINION

Don't call it a comeback: Mike Tyson has more than earned one last appearance on the big stage - OPINION
Mike Tyson raised plenty of eyebrows when he announced plans to make a return to boxing at the age of 53, but fight fans should be happy to witness one final chapter in the ring legend's legacy.

For those of us who can recall it, there wasn't anything in professional sports quite like witnessing Tyson in his heyday.

For years this teenage, (relatively) diminutive heavyweight out of New York had been whispered as the sport's next prodigy - and the evidence to back up that assessment quickly began to mount.

Forged by the streets of Brooklyn and later refined by iconic trainer Cus D'Amato, Tyson was a whirlwind of chaos, both in and out of the ring. 

He was a self-described as a "wild kid running the streets", before long coming to understand the difference-maker that he had in his fists, a talent which would get him in trouble repeatedly with the police as a teenager - before leading to him becoming one of the world's best-paid athletes just a few short years later. 

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It didn't take long for him to announce himself as a genuine threat to boxing's heavyweight elite. His professional debut came in March 1985 and in the course of the next 18 months he won 27 straight fights - 25 of them by knockout - before he challenged, and defeated, Trevor Berbick to become the youngest ever heavyweight champion of the world.

Tyson's story from this point onwards is well-documented. His unbeaten streak was broken by unheralded underdog James 'Buster' Douglas. Then came the rape conviction, then prison, then the comeback, then the Evander Holyfield incident. 

Then, some two decades after bursting onto the scene, Tyson was ignominiously shuffled out of the heavyweight deck after dispiriting losses to Danny Williams and lumbering Irish giant Kevin McBride.

For Tyson, the under-motivated and lackluster finish to his career bore no resemblance to that of the fighter who ran roughshod through the division some years prior. Perhaps that is part of the reason for his desire to compete once again. 

Those last two defeats are bitter pills to dwell on for the past 15 years. Against Williams, Tyson was left sitting against the ropes after being leveled by the Englishman, unable - or unwilling - to continue.

And the McBride fight, which would have ended by KO victory about a minute into the first round during Tyson's best days, instead finished with 'The Baddest Man on the Planet' refusing to leave his stool at the end of the sixth round.

He retired in the ring moments later, saying that he didn't want to "disrespect" the sport any longer by losing to fighters of McBride's caliber. 

If Tyson, as expected, confirms a return to the ring this year it will be to partly exorcise those demons as well as an attempt to be an example of a character that he has very much rehabilitated in his decade and a half away from the sport. 

The identity of Tyson's opponent has yet to be revealed, but it certainly won't be anyone close to the likes of the trio of fighters who top the heavyweight rankings today.

Names like Shannon Briggs and old foe Holyfield have been mentioned. Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock have also expressed their candidacy should Tyson decide that he doesn't even face a boxer on his ring return. 

Mike Tyson has earned the right to return. His training videos have shown him to be in outstanding shape. The famed speed and power, while dulled somewhat, is still present - and would cause more than a few problems for any heavyweight fighter of a similar vintage. 

Far from being the story of a punch-drunk fighter refusing to release his grasp on the limelight, Tyson's mooted return seems more a story of redemption from a man who fell out of love with the sport that made him, who is embracing the sweet science once again. 

Surely that's a story we can get behind. 

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