From Revelationhttps://i1.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/CCDE5CAC-A1A4-4E48-B246-E443A5555AC0.jpeg?fit=1920%2C1066&ssl=119201066Andrew RihnAndrew Rihnhttps://i2.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/7E4BBDC9-4804-44BC-9E84-83EA3BFFAFC0.jpeg?fit=96%2C96&ssl=1
Tyson vs. Johnson Sep 5, 1985 Atlantis Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
Twenty-four seconds into the fight, a left hook to the body drops Johnson, so immediate and clean one might think the fight was following a script. To watch is to wince; there is no passive viewership, no detached observation of these two men. Mike Tyson flows with the militancy of exorcism, addicted to that perfect chaos. The audience hesitates to cheer, afraid of taking sides against demon or priest. A right cross drops Johnson once more, responsorial hymn of calculated and deliberate ferocity. Hitting a man, writes J. R. Moehringer, is sometimes the most satisfying response to being a man.
Tyson vs. Berbick Nov 22, 1986 Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.
What can be said: hydrogen bombs. God as a blessing in disguise, deadly and accurate. Moments of miracles and petulant left hooks. What Berbick said: my life is the truth, and the truth is a mystery. Revelation’s funny punches: a jab like a good scream, what the Daily Mail called the carnage below the chandeliers. This is how newness enters the ring: cut-up towel over his shoulders, a modern Elijah proclaimed by acolytes, his sign lifted over their bowed heads. Crooked and enticing judgment day: our discernment is over, and only just beginning. Remember this new reign, its striking disclosure.
Tyson vs. Smith Mar 7, 1987 Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.
Mike Tyson is not a ghost; he is the desolate wilderness, the new growth, recognizable in every place, not for dress or diet, but for doctrine and blood. For twelve rounds these men nullify expectations like shadow figures, trace elements. We hold on, endure, persisting in spite of our deductions. Afterwards, the sportscaster says the two men have released the tension and hate of their fight. Survival despite our dissections, our diversions, our thin attempts at definition. The bones we’ve crushed along the way and the broken efforts. A fist being raised, the adumbration of our best lives, the epiphany.
Tyson vs. McNeeley Aug 19, 1995 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
We wonder about rehabilitation, reform, redemption: the enthusiasm of Elijah, after his mountain expeditions, consuming soldier after soldier in godly fire. McNeeley, for all his sacrifice and futile bravery, promises to wrap Mike Tyson in a cocoon of horror. Then a right hook floors him in ten seconds; a right uppercut drops him a second time. At 1:29 into the first round, his corner throws in the towel. But it doesn’t matter: the conclusion was foregone, the spectacle, monstrous. Teddy Atlas, Mike Tyson’s former trainer, explains: fights like this only exist to exploit people’s willingness to believe in this monster.
Tyson vs. Norris Oct 23, 1999 MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
In the ring, Mike Tyson can face his demons but he cannot relinquish them. It is true he can fight and it is true he can win, and yet he cannot carry that victory out with him, cannot keep hold of it. The demons follow him through the ropes, into the hostile neon exposure. What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? What fellowship has light with darkness? Mike Tyson, who was once superior to the rules of the fight, is now awash in a tide pool of resentments, flushing in detritus and rinsing out the silky flotsam of the disrobed world.
Andrew Rihn is a writer of essays, poems, and scholarly articles. He is the author of several chapbooks, including America Plops and Fizzes (sunnyoutside press) and The Rust Belt MRI (Pudding House). Along with his wife, the writer Donora A. Rihn, he co-authored the chapbooks The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: An Election Cycle (Moria Books/ Locofo Chaps) and The Day of Small Things (Really Serious Literature). Together, they live in Portage Lakes, OH with their two rescue dogs.