ATLANTIC CITY, NJ—Mike Tyson, his bikini straps slipping from his shoulders, his makeup running, and his long blonde wig in disarray following a fourth-round knockout delivered by Melonee "Boom-Boom-Chick" Gilchrist, announced Tuesday night that he is retiring from foxy-boxing with a career WFBA record of 1-6.
"It's time," said Tyson, still unstable on his four-inch stiletto heels after the hard uppercut from Gilchrist that knocked off not only his trademark tiara, but also both of his gold hoop earrings. "I think I should hang it up now while I still have my health, my looks, and a very, very tiny shred of self-respect."
Ringside observers say Tyson, who will turn 40 next month, was never really in the fight, displaying bad mobility in his red patent-leather thigh-highs, failing to keep his impeccably manicured hands up and cycling, and being consistently rocked by straight lefts and looping rights from Gilchrist despite outweighing her by over 120 pounds.
"I just wasn't afraid of him," said Gilchrist, who began the process of psyching out her more famous opponent at the pre-fight weigh-in, responding to the former heavyweight champ's disparaging comments by nearly flooring him with a single swing of her purse that knocked beads from Tyson's weave. "All the ones he beat back in the day—Trevor Berbick, Bonecrusher Smith, Robin Givens—they went into the ring in fear of him, but I didn't."
Tyson retired from professional boxing in June 2005 after losing to workaday heavyweight Kevin McBride, but began foxy-boxing last November when friends, creditors, and agents presented him with a way to write an end to his career that would take him full circle.
"Some of Mike's most famous battles have been against women, from the little old ladies he used to roll for welfare checks as a kid to Desiree Washington, Miss Black Rhode Island, who knocked him out of boxing for three years," said promoter Dani King. "We thought that signing on with the World Foxy-Boxing Association would be a way, not only to make some headway against his enormous debt, but to go out in the style in which he'll always be remembered."
After debuting in the WFBA last August and becoming known as "Ironed-Hair Mike," "Kid Transvest-Dynamite," and "The Baddest Man Dressed As A Woman On The Planet," Tyson quickly earned a reputation as a slow, graceless power puncher whose only flash came from his Swarovski crystal anklets. His only win, against Wendy "Wheels" Wielinski in February, is still disputed by foxy-boxing cognoscenti who claim Tyson was able to land several punches to the side of his opponent's head when Wielinski, an Iraq War veteran, experienced technical problems with her wheelchair. Tyson himself was severely battered in that fight, also suffering deep lacerations and bite wounds when he was attacked in the post-fight press conference by Wielinski's guide dog.
"I had a good run in boxing," Tyson said in his characteristic and now somewhat oddly appropriate lisping voice before taking off the gloves, the wig, and the jewelry for the last time. "I made my share of mistakes, and I paid for them. I won some good fights and I lost some good fights. But I wouldn't change a thing. Except, maybe, this part about dressing up like a woman and getting my ass beat."