Mike Tyson says his record-breaking run to the top of world heavyweight boxing arrived too early in life when he was weighed down by “emotional vampires”.
Tyson is making a return to boxing at the age of 54 in an exhibition bout with Roy Jones Jr on Saturday.
There has been intrigue over to what to expect and how the man who became the youngest heavyweight champion in history – aged 20 – will perform.
“I think Roy can handle getting slapped around a little bit,” said Tyson.
“It’s going to be really hot in that kitchen.”
Speaking to Eddie Hearn’s ‘No Passion No Point podcast’ on BBC Sounds, Tyson appeared light-hearted in his threats to Jones and the likelihood of any serious fight breaking out between the pair is diminishing as the event draws nearer.
The body sanctioning the exhibition has stated both fighters will wear 12oz gloves, the eight rounds will be two minutes in length rather than three and that the pair “shouldn’t be going for a knockout”.
It would appear the event is in place to satisfy the curiosity of seeing Tyson in the ring against former four-weight world champion Jones, 51, rather than to offer a platform for either to chase future fights in the sport.
It has provided scope for Tyson’s past to be revisited, including his world-title win in 1986, his imprisonment for rape six years later and the financial and drug problems that became well documented later in his life.
“The best time of my life was probably right before I won the title,” Tyson told Hearn.
“When I won the title it got tricky. It wasn’t the right time for me. I had too many emotional vampires around me.”
‘I can protect myself now’
Hearn’s podcast sees the boxing promoter speak to individuals from popular culture about the key qualities needed to achieve success.
Tyson, who says he started fighting when a group of men tried to steal the pigeons he collected as a child, has long championed the guidance he received from Cus D’Amato.
He believes his late trainer offered him timely direction in life but says only in recent years has he learned how to truly control some of the behaviours formed while growing up in Brownsville, New York.
“That kid is always in me,” added Tyson. “Now I know how to treat him, how to protect him. I wasn’t protecting him when I was going to jail and all this crazy stuff.
“The best thing that can happen to any young man or woman is to have a diligent role model that cares about them. The feelings have to be mutual. Your objective has to be to make them happy – to be the man they need you to be.
“Just think where I would be without boxing. I don’t even want to think about where I would be without this beautiful sport.
“I’m living responsibly, being present. That’s what it’s about for me now.”
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