This was after the Cooney comeback fight, with Foreman’s eyes squarely set on Tyson:
This account gives the context why Tyson never met Foreman in the ring:
Throughout the lunch Goodman, Duva, Benton, and myself shared stories and thoughts on the fight game. Out of the blue Goodman said, “Oh I remember why else Tyson wanted no parts of Foreman. He said that King had found out from Steve Lott that Tyson and Cus D’Amato used to watch the Frazier-Foreman fight over and over.”
He continued saying that Tyson loved that fight because he was awed by Foreman’s power and Frazier’s toughness and how he kept getting up after every knockdown. He also said that Lott told King that Cus sat alongside Tyson saying, “It’s suicide against Foreman if you’re short and fight a swarming attacking style like Marciano or Frazier,” never figuring that Foreman could be a possible Tyson opponent down the road.
He said that Cus said the only fighters who had a chance against Foreman were tall, rangy fighters who could fight him from a distance while moving away from him, and no way any swarmer could beat Foreman by going to him.
Perhaps that and not cowardice was the reason. Tyson continued to say Foreman was foxing, shamming that he was past it but wanting a shot. The Cooney fight would have done nothing to dispel Iron Mike’s view.
In an oft played vid here, Ali and Tyson met on set, Ali was scared of Tyson but Tyson was just awed by Ali. The three boxers Tyson was awed by were simple to name – Ali, Foreman, Frazier … and with good reason.
Mike Tyson was quite a student of the game, apart from his ring exploits.
They did box on the same card one night but never entered the ring together. IMHO, Tyson was quite right to do as he did, the omens with big George were not auspicious and remember Tyson was past his own peak by then.