Stars and slobs come out for the 'last fight'

We came here to bury Mike Tyson. We came away almost loving him, afraid to contemplate what once would have been cause for rejoicing: that we might have witnessed the Baddest One's last fight.

We came here to bury Mike Tyson. We came away almost loving him, afraid to contemplate what once would have been cause for rejoicing: that we might have witnessed the Baddest One's last fight.

The match is not one that will linger in the memory for its pugilistic merits; Andrew Golota's deed (which in the real business of war, which does not pay partipants $3m for merely showing up, might be called rank cowardice) saw to that. But if Tyson's pre-fight mutterings are serious, Friday could be the final chapter. Or maybe not: if he stopped fighting, he once wondered, "What the hell will I be - a rocket scientist?"

However, this was an occasion of boxing pedigree. Detroit is an ancient temple of the once-noble art. Joe Louis was a native, Sugar Ray Robinson was long based there, and the promoter of Friday's bout was none other than local boy Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns.

The Palace arena may sit in Auburn Hills, 30 miles north of the city, next to the wooded, reflecting-glass campus which is the new world headquarters of DaimlerChrysler. But on Friday evening, in both spirit and occupants, it belonged to the Motor City of legend.

All the ingredients were there which make a big fight crowd unique. Celebrities, of course, this time including Bruce Willis,beer-bellied slobs, honest fans in jeans and sneakers, less honest ones with gold in their teeth and diamonds in their ears, cool dudes in spats and black fedoras, whores in white mink, and many an ordinary citizen. Most of all there was Muhammad Ali. The great man had come to watch his daughter Laila Ali fight in a supporting bout (which merely added to the evidence that women should be banned from boxing). But when he shuffled to his front-row seat supported by a helper, the place exploded. "Ali! Ali! Ali! Ali!," came the rhythmic chant. It didn't matter that, a few minutes later, he seemed to be asleep.

Even in his decline, the force is with Ali, and Mike Tyson felt it. Surely that, along with the ghosts of Louis and Robinson, was why he behaved himself. In that mood, there's no fighter more compelling to watch. And afterwards, as the stretch limos began gliding back to the other, real Detroit, you couldn't help thinking: if he does quit, we'll miss him terribly.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell