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"The Last Great Fight"

Author Joe Layden's contention is that the 1990 bout in which James "Buster" Douglas took the heavyweight championship away from Mike Tyson marked not only the explosion of the myth that Tyson was indestructible, but the end of the public's interest in boxing.

The extent to which readers subscribe to this notion will probably depend on how interested they were in boxing before Mike Tyson won the heavyweight championship, but Layden does make the case that this particular fight was significant for the former champ, whose life since 1990 has literally and figuratively been a series of pile-ups on various freeways, most of which have led to court and bad news.

Of Douglas it can be said that at least he seems to have saved some money from his most monstrous paydays, which is encouraging. On the other hand, just a few years after he won the championship, Douglas found himself weighing four hundred pounds and sinking into a diabetic coma.

It's tempting to conclude from the stories Joe Layden tells that boxing doesn't do anybody any good, except that some of his stories are about Don King. Boxing has provided King with a work place in which treachery, threats, lies, and bombast go unpunished. In fact, they pretty much go unnoticed, since nobody expects loyalty or honesty from anyone who works in boxing. The "sport" has also made King exceptionally wealthy at the expense of lots of fighters who are damaged and broke.

That's an old story. So are the ones about the unbeatable champ who turns out to be a self-destructive criminal, and the underdog who prevails against the odds, only to step into the ring against his next opponent unprepared, disorganized and doomed.

This program aired on December 6, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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