• July 23, 2024

Mike Tyson’s 11th-Hour Face Tattoo Baffles Fans – Did Fear Play a Role in the Controversy?

In 2003, ‘Iron Mike’ was in a really weird place in his career. The year prior, Tyson had somehow scratched and crawled his way into a title shot against Lennox Lewis. In a clash that was long in the making, ‘The Lion’ dominated and easily won.

Following the defeat, there was talk of a potential rematch. It didn’t have to do with the competitiveness of the contest, but instead contractual. A lot of that potential rematch hinged on how Tyson’s next bout went, which was slated for February 2003.

That month, Mike Tyson faced the relatively low-regarded Clifford Etienne. Leading into the bout, the former champion was naturally a massive favorite. However, that fight week in 2003 was a wild one, as it looked like the bout wouldn’t happen multiple times.


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In fact, the bout was even canceled at one point, as his training team thought his lack of conditioning could lead to a loss. Ultimately, the fight went ahead, with Tyson sporting a new face tattoo that he got in fight week. Jeff Fenech has his own idea why.

Tyson’s former tra iner discussed the fight week tattoo in an interview with Fox Sports. There, Fenech opined:

“My first impression was that I’ve never had a tattoo in my life, but I thought we are fighting in a week, and when you get a tattoo, you can’t fight because they snap up and it wouldn’t be healthy to do that. We sat down and spoke, and he didn’t really want to fight and he wasn’t prepared to, and that was one of the reasons he got the tattoo.”Did Mike Tyson defeat Clifford Etienne?


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Mike Tyson’s February 2003 fight week perfectly exemplifies who ‘Iron Mike’ is.

Leading into the bout, the former champion was quiet. That was until fight week when his coaching staff canceled the bout for him. Promoters stated at the time that Tyson was in no shape to compete due to his lack of training.

The issue is that nobody told the former champion. So, he arrived at The Pyramid in Tennesee that week ready to fight, somehow arguing to his team that the bout should proceed.

Mike Tyson also made time to get a new, massive face tattoo for his bout with Clifford Etienne. For most boxers, an upset loss to ‘The Black Rhino’ would be coming. It was clear that the heavyweight legend didn’t care about the fight.

However, it went ahead, and he somehow won by knockout in under a minute.

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