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When Ali And Tyson Argued About Who Was Greater

By Scoop Malinowski

In the 1980s on live television Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson actually argued face to face about who was the greater world heavyweight champion.

The verbal clash happened on the Arsenio Hall Show, with a silent and respectful Sugar Ray Leonard seated on a couch between the two.

Here’s what happened…

Ali said, “I’m scared…” and then pointed at Tyson, who was the reigning champ at the time.

Arsenio Hall then asked Ali, “Who would’ve won if you and Tyson fought in your prime?”

Ali answered,” I’m powerful, so fast… if he hit me… [Ali falls back on the couch feigning he’d get knocked out, drawing laughter from the live studio audience].”

Tyson replied, “I know I’m great. But in this situation every head must bow, every tongue must confess… this is the greatest of all time [pointing to Ali].”

Ali didn’t fully agree with the words of Tyson though and parried the praises with a confession, “He can be modest, humble and nice but this man is the greater. And I don’t know what would happen if he would hit me.”

Tyson got hit hard by Ali’s compliments but refused to let them have any effect on his chin. Instead, Tyson became stronger in his argument and convictions and his voice tone became stronger and more certain. Tyson essentially called Ali a liar. “I don’t believe it. The champ is modest. I’ve seen him in the ring with killers, Foreman, Shavers, guys who hit harder than me. And this man took their punches. That’s what made this man such a champion. Even though I heard him say he doesn’t believe, he MUST believe, that’s why I know from watching Ali it gave me a great deal of confidence and deep down inner belief, there is no man in his mind who can beat me. From listening to him all those years as a little boy. He used to make predictions come true. He used to take his character and use it to reflect on his opponent. And he made them believe that he was invincible. So that’s great.”

Again, the crowd cheered Tyson’s unique, articulate description’s of one aspect of Muhammad Ali’s greatness. But once again, Ali deflected Tyson’s heartfelt love and respect and doubled down, “That’s really nice of him to pay these compliments. But this man is greater.”

When the judges filled out their scorecards, the Ali vs Tyson “Who Is The Greatest Contest” was declared a draw.

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