Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield should heed warning of 'Razor' Ruddock whose heavyweight comeback, in his 50s, was a disaster
Last Updated: 13/05/20 7:20am
Like 'Iron' Mike Tyson today, Donovan 'Razor' Ruddock was saying all the right things. He had re-found his hunger, gone vegan and was desperate to prove that he felt stronger in his 50s than he had in his 20s.
Razor, so-called for his punches that split opponents' skin, did what Tyson and co are currently threatening to do by launching a comeback into the heavyweight division five years ago as a 51-year-old. It ended disastrously in a resounding KO defeat to a rival 22 years his junior.
He was never a world heavyweight champion but Razor, known for the power of his left hand and a punch nicknamed 'the smash', was a competitive staple of 1990s scene who shared the ring with legends. He lost twice to Tyson but was feted for his toughness in going the distance with a broken jaw in their rematch. He was later beaten in two rounds by Lennox Lewis but owns good wins over 'Bonecrusher' Smith and Greg Page.
He called time on his career in 2001 but, 14 years later as a father of six and a grandfather of four, he announced plans to fight again and become Canadian champion.
"I've been in the ring with Tyson, all these guys, and I'm telling you: I feel better now, than I did back then," he said.
His words were eerily similar to what we've heard from Tyson and Evander Holyfield recently.
Except Razor went through with it - there were ominous signs in his first fight back, aged 51, against 44-year-old Raymond Olubowale. Razor was knocked down, clambered back up, and won in the fifth-round. It was not a statement to worry the division's elite, like he was making 30 years earlier.
He won a majority decision over six rounds just two months later to set up his challenge for Dillon Carman's Canadian heavyweight title.
His wife and manager Tritcha warned: "If you look at the heavyweight division there's a missing link, and he's the missing link."
Razor insisted: "You see, the key to boxing is, if you're not getting knocked out, you're doing okay. If you are getting knocked on the head, then you've got to go find something else to do.
"If you take care of your body, train and stay in physical condition, it has nothing to do with age. That's what I want to prove, and it will be very, very sad if in fact it turns out that I'm wrong."
He was wrong.
Lennox Lewis, Razor's old rival, was involved in the promotion of a fight against 29-year-old national champion Carman who had won eight of his 10 fights. He has since been knocked out by three different opponents.
But he floored Razor in Toronto, five years ago, a shuddering reminder that boxing is a young man's sport.
Razor's attempted comeback should be a warning to his peers who are speaking of doing the same. It began with stunning footage of Tyson training, looking terrifying.
"I've been working out, I've been trying to get in the ring," Tyson, aged 53, said. "I think I'm going to box some exhibitions and get in shape.
"I want to go to the gym and get in shape to be able to box three or four-round exhibitions for some charities and stuff."
Tyson's old rival Holyfield, 57, then told Sky Sports News: "If we can work something out that works for everybody then it's a win-win-win."
Sure enough, 54-year-old Lennox Lewis tweeted a hint too.
Sky Sports' Johnny Nelson added perspective: "Once you've had time out to reflect and assess, you think 'I could do that'. But it's our mind playing tricks on us, because when you get in the ring and you come up against a youngster who's not as good as you, technically, but has more pace than you, he will do you every day of the week.
"We've seen Mike Tyson hit the headlines on the pads. And everyone's like 'oh my gosh, he's the don'. We're remembering the good times but we're not remembering the back end of the career when the body didn't switch as quick as it used to. The body didn't react as quick as it used to."
The latest talk about boxing comebacks will likely come to nothing, at best charity exhibitions where no meaningful blows are exchanged. Anybody considering a real return should consider how badly wrong it went for 'Razor' Ruddock.