WASHINGTON - For the second fight in a row, Mike Tyson's handlers had picked an opponent who was expected to be a soft touch. And for the second straight time, it was Tyson who proved to be soft.
For while Irish heavyweight Kevin McBride fought with heart last night at MCI Center, Tyson, once known as the "Baddest Man on the Planet," proved he no longer had any.
McBride, a nearly 10-to-1 underdog, outhustled, out- wrestled and outpunched Tyson, whose cornerman, Jeff Fenech, advised referee Joe Cortez to stop the fight between the sixth and seventh rounds with Tyson (50-6, 44 knockouts) sagging on his stool to the shock of the 15,732 in attendance.
The loss was the second straight for Tyson, who was coming off a July 30, 2004, fourth-round knockout defeat by England's Danny Williams, and the third in his past four fights.
The result left Tyson a man who appeared to be as bankrupt emotionally and physically as he is financially. At the post-fight news conference, he said he felt "like I was 120 years old."
And of the final seconds of the sixth round, when he sat on the floor, tangled in the ropes and ignoring Cortez's requests to rise until the bell rung, Tyson said, "I just didn't want to get up.
"I don't have the guts to stay in this sport anymore," Tyson said afterward. "I don't want to disrespect the sport I love. I don't want to disrespect Kevin McBride. And if I can't beat him, I can't beat [former bantamweight champion] Junior Jones," who is retired.
Of his million-dollar debt to creditors, Tyson said, "I just get some money and pay those guys."
The 6-foot-6, 271-pound McBride outweighed Tyson (233) by 38 pounds, and he used it to his advantage by leaning on him whenever he could.
McBride so frustrated Tyson that the former champion tried to twist one of his opponent's arms in the sixth, in which he also had two points deducted for head-butting.
Still, judges Stephen Rados and Tamaye Jenkins had Tyson ahead 57-55 at the time of the stoppage. Referee Paul Artisst had it 57-55 for McBride.
"It looked like he was trying to hurt me. He tried to break my arm a couple of times. I think he was trying to bite me, but I'm not sure," said McBride, who dedicated his win to "the pride of Ireland."
In victory, McBride (33-4-1) of Brockton, Mass., earned his eighth straight knockout and his 28th overall. The upset ranks as perhaps the greatest for an Irish heavyweight since James J. Braddock defeated Max Baer for the heavyweight title nearly 70 years ago to the day - on June 13, 1935.
"Mike Tyson is Mike Tyson. He's a warrior and one of the greatest champions of all time," McBride said. "It was the opportunity of a lifetime.'
This, from a fighter who had been knocked out four times.
In January 2002, McBride was stopped in five rounds by 211-pound DaVarryl Williamson.
McBride's other losses were to former contender Axel Schultz, Louis Monaco and Michael Murray. Monaco and Murray have a combined record of 30-55 with 16 knockouts. The win over McBride was Murray's only victory in his past 18 fights.
In defeating Tyson, McBride joined Danny Williams, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield (twice) and Buster Douglas as Tyson's conquerors.
McBride had a nine-inch reach advantage last night, but he didn't need to use it. Instead, he engaged Tyson in the trenches, ripping him with right crosses and uppercuts.
"Bring them on. To be the best, you have to beat the best. I'm 32 years old. I'm coming into my own as a fighter. I'm a contender, not a pretender."
Tyson, who earned $5 million to McBride's $150,000, now finds himself in a predicament. He has squandered much of his $300 million in ring earnings and filed for bankruptcy, and his lawyers had developed a seven-fight bankruptcy plan to alleviate his debts, the first bout being against McBride.
A father of six children ranging in age from three months to 16, Tyson received just $25,000 of last night's purse as part of the plan. But he pays a monthly mortgage on one home, and has put a down payment on another that is worth $2.1 million.