Mike Tyson on Floyd Patterson

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," May 11, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson died today. He was 71 years old. Earlier tonight, I spoke with another boxing champ, Mike Tyson.


Mike, it's a sad time for boxing, isn't it, with Floyd Patterson's passing.

MIKE TYSON, FORMER HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING CHAMPION: Oh, man. That was just — that was a horrific moment in time. I've learned a lot about Floyd Patterson being under the tutelage of Cus D'Amato, who also trained Floyd Patterson. And he had nothing but admiration for Floyd Patterson.

VAN SUSTEREN: What was Floyd Patterson like?

TYSON: Well, I met Floyd on a few occasions, but he's always been very dignified and respectful gentleman. Throughout his whole career, he was known to be shy, but he was a very spectacular puncher, as well as fast, double-punchings with both hands. And was Cus's pride and joy. He was the youngest heavyweight champion at 21 years old, and then again four years later he became heavyweight champion again. You know, only heavyweight to regain the champion at that particular time, until Ali came. He was a remarkable fighter.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in fact, he won a gold medal didn't he?

TYSON: I believe he was a middleweight during the Helsinki Olympics in 1952.

VAN SUSTEREN: And when he became a champion at age 21, who did he beat?

TYSON: He beat Archie Moore, who was the legendary "Mongoose." That was really a golden age of boxing, when Ray Robinson was in his prime, Willie Pep was in his prime. It was really a spectacular year.

VAN SUSTEREN: What happened when he fought Sonny Liston?

TYSON: Well, you know, Sonny Liston was a tremendous fighter at that time. He was very intimidating. He was big, strong. And Floyd was kind of up and down in his career, but he had great days in his time. You can't take that away from him. He broke and shattered records.

VAN SUSTEREN: On one occasion, I think he lost to Sonny Liston and he was enormously embarrassed, wasn't he, Mike.

TYSON: Isn't that something? Isn't that something? I read about those articles as well, that he also disguised himself when he walked out in public. That's very — yes, that's very disarming. You know, some people have gold egos and some people are the way they are, I guess. It's just remarkable what kind of mindset great athletes have.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you see him fight, or do you remember watching any reruns of him fighting Muhammad Ali?

TYSON: Oh, yes, I watched the whole autobiography of Floyd Patterson. They had the Floyd Patterson story on audio, I believe, at the time when I was a young boy, and I watched it. It was just a remarkable story.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was he an inspiration to you?

TYSON: I would say so, yes. And then Catskill, New York, where I began my fighting career as a young boy, I heard a lot of stories about Floyd Patterson, so I really would say he was an inspiration.

VAN SUSTEREN: It seems like he fought a lot guys who were bigger than he was. He didn't seem particularly big as a boxer.

TYSON: Well, he wasn't a big heavyweight in those standards. He was 185 pounds, 190 pounds, but he was a fast puncher and he had a little snap behind his punches, so that put him in position to score a lot of knockouts.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you describe his style of boxing versus your own?

TYSON: I don't know. We have the same teacher in Cus D'Amato, but he was more of a tight peek-a-boo style, and which I was a more explosive. I came straight in for the kill, moving my head, make the guy miss and counter with the knockout punch.

VAN SUSTEREN: And how about comparing Floyd Patterson to Muhammad Ali?

TYSON: Well, the only thing — the only comparison is just the hand speed because he wasn't truly a heavyweight. He was 180 pounds, 190 pounds, but he had lightning-fast hands. And as I said before, that's how he scored his many of the knockouts because of the lightness and quickness in his punching.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think he'd say was his best fight?

TYSON: Excuse me?

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think Floyd Patterson would think was the highlight of his career?

TYSON: I don't know, but I think the second fight with Ingemar Johansson was a great fight.


TYSON: Because he came back and regained the heavyweight championship when no fighter was able to do that at the time. And that included Jack Dempsey and Max Baer, Joe Louis, and who else, Mr. Walcott, Ezzard Charles. And no one was able to do it, and he was the one that was able to do it. And that was a remarkable feat in itself.

VAN SUSTEREN: He retired at 37. Any idea what he did after that? Because I don't remember reading much or hearing much about him after that.

TYSON: Well, I know he experienced in movies and television series. I was a young child on "The Wild, Wild West" show. I think it was Robert Conrad or something at the time. Do you remember that show?

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't remember it. Do boxers sort of hang out together? I mean, like, do you know Muhammad Ali? Did you know Sonny Liston? I mean, did you know any of these people?

TYSON: Who, me myself?


TYSON: Well, I met Muhammad Ali on a few occasions, had the privilege, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: And who's sort of your biggest — I mean, in terms of who's been the biggest influence on you on boxing, of other boxers?

TYSON: I don't know, Roberto Duran and Muhammad Ali. Couldn't be any fighter bigger than that, as far as influence. They're the top of the game. There's never been any better, I can't say.

VAN SUSTEREN: One last question. Are we going to see you fight again?

TYSON: I don't know. I'm not really interested in doing that anymore.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Mike, thank you for joining us, and thank you for sharing your thoughts on Floyd Patterson, who unfortunately has passed. Thank you, Mike.

TYSON: Thank you for calling me.

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