Alan Hubbard

I am a bit of an insomniac – well, rather more than a bit – and counting sheep does not count me out.

So as a long-standing fight fan I have started turning over in my mind dream clashes between boxing’s greats that might have been.

No doubt many aficionados of the noble art have done the same thing: would Muhammad Ali have beaten Mike Tyson or Joe Louis? How about Sugar Ray Robinson versus Sugar Ray Leonard? Or Joe Frazier against Rocky Marciano?

There are scores and scores of them. Would either or both the sweet Sugars, Robinson and Leonard, overcome Floyd Mayweather? Another mental match-up I would love to have witnessed is the fabulous ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ Henry Armstrong or Roberto Duran or Manny Paquiao pitted against the new brightest star in world boxing, former Olympic champion and now world champion Vasily Lomachenko. Or how about Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin against Carlos Monzon?

I have always maintained that Ali would have out-psyched, out-thought and out-fought Tyson, though many will disagree vehemently, believing Tyson would have chopped him down to size. Okay, so I am a total Ali-phile but in my mind’s eye, the tetchy Mike would have become so frustrated and then enraged by Ali’s antics and taunting that he would have lost his rag and probably munched on Ali’s ear as he did Evander Holyfield’s.

Of course, there was that manufactured ‘dream fight’ between Ali and Marciano when they both stepped into the ring to exchange choreographed blows for the computer. Did Ali win? The computer said no. It declared Marciano the victor by a 13th-round knockout.

I would disagree with that outcome. And actually, so did Marciano himself.

Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, pictured in 2002, was a formidable performer in the ring ©Getty Images
Former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, pictured in 2002, was a formidable performer in the ring ©Getty Images

I talked with him about that computer video when he was here just before his death in August 1969 in a plane crash. He was a guest of the Boxing Writers’ Club at a London lunch and admitted emphatically that he would never have beaten Ali had it been a real deal. “He was too big, too fast and too smart for me,” he said. ”I could never have pinned him on the ropes long enough to land my Suzy Q” (his lethal right-hand bonecrusher that helped despatch some 43 of his 49 opponents during his record unbeaten reign).

Recently, however, one make-believe fight I have been repeatedly turning over in my mind is a truly intriguing one: Tyson versus Tyson.

How would Tyson Fury have handled his namesake, the baddest man of the planet after whom, of course, he was named by his father, British heavyweight title contender Gypsy John 30 years ago. 

I am in two minds. The brute force of the young Mike Tyson who quickly and savagely crushed the likes of Michael Spinks, Trevor Berbick and Larry Holmes surely would have done the same to a similarly young and and relatively raw Fury.

But had Fury deployed the same intelligent hit-and-hop-it technique he did to sensationally relieve Wladimir Klitschko of his long-held world heavyweight titles, or the valour and astuteness he showed to draw with (and beat on my card) Deontay Wilder after rising from the dead, might it have been a different matter?

Maybe. Certainly had the new Fury faced the older Tyson who succumbed to Lennox Lewis and Danny Williams, he would have stopped him as they did. Tactically, it would have been a really fascinating fight when both were at their peak but in that situation I must give the edge to Iron Mike, despite being 11in shorter than the Gypsy Giant, by a late stoppage with his viciously clubbing punches.

Mike Tyson's explosive style in the ring earned him many an admirer during his career ©Getty Images
Mike Tyson's explosive style in the ring earned him many an admirer during his career ©Getty Images

Mike Tyson, who once said he would be dead by 40, is now 52 and likely to be at ringside when Fury faces Tom Schwarz at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on June 15.

The 24-year-old German boasts an unbeaten record of 24-0 with 16 KOs but has never fought anyone of Fury’s calibre and has only boxed outside of his country twice before.

It is unlikely that Schwartz will bother him as much as Mike Tyson would have done but he might give him a half-decent scrap and Fury is always entertaining. The fight will be televised live by BT after the exclusive screening of Josh Warrington’s IBF world featherweight title defence  against Kid Galahad in Leeds.

Mke Tyson is no longer allowed to visit the UK following a change in immigration laws in 2012 which forbids anyone sentenced to more than four years in jail to enter the country. Tyson received a six-year sentence in 1992 for rape, but served only three.

These days he is a reformed character and nicer person, rather like his British namesake who says of his 6ft 5in opponent: "He is hungry and ambitious and I am sure he will come for a war.

"He is not ill-preparing for this and turning up for a pay check. He is turning up to take the lineal championship of the world. It will be an epic fight. It's Las Vegas, it's showtime and I will look to put on an explosive performance."

No doubt that’s also where an all-Tyson showdown would have been, too.

Tyson versus Tyson remains an in-your-dreams fight but one which also keeps flickering through my mind as I try to nod off at night is a future collision between Fury and Anthony Joshua, who now holds Fury’s confiscated belts.

“Joshua doesn’t want to fight me now that I am in back in shape,” argues the born-again bruiser from Manchester. ”It is time for him to man up.”

All being well it should happen next year. Please don’t let that be a pipe dream, too.