IT IS 25 years on from the fight that ended Frank Bruno’s career — but he has now learned to love former foe Mike Tyson.
Iron Mike — the Baddest Man on the Planet — halted the British hero’s six-month WBC heavyweight title reign by battering him into retirement in March 1996.
It was the second defeat inflicted on him by Tyson in Las Vegas, the first coming seven years earlier.
But Bruno, 59, claims the pair are bound together by brotherly love after he flew to meet him in the USA for a new Sky documentary.
Bruno told SunSport: “It was sad watching what happened to Mike after he retired — but I had my own situation going on for a lot of that time too.
“Back then, people with mental health problems did not really come forward to talk about it.
“So it was very sad with Mike. Because underneath the bad-boy image, the massive puncher, he is not a nasty guy — he is a very good and humble person.
“It’s just a shame when you get in the ring with him that he turns into an animal!
“If you think I have been through a hard time, you need to check out Mike and see what he has been through. But now he is happy.
“I don’t feel any malice towards Mike, I feel far more like a brother to him.”
FREE BETS: GET OVER £2,000 IN SIGN UP OFFERS HERE
Tommy Fury says ball in Anthony Joshua’s court over Tyson showdown
WHO YA GOT?
Boxing legends predict Joshua vs Fury fight including Tyson and Mayweather
AJ is one of Fury’s ‘easiest opponents’ and will get KOd early, says Isaac Lowe
Mike Tyson explains why Mayweather is not sport’s GOAT naming two better records
BIG WHACK & FRIES
Tyson Fury spotted at McDonald’s drive-thru as he prepares for AJ fight
The sibling-like rivalry between the pair goes back 40 years, to when a 19-year-old Bruno was taken on a tour of US gyms — and sparred with a wayward teen dragged off the mean streets of Brooklyn to live and train in the Catskill mountains in New York.
That early meeting with the quiet, lisping 15-year-old — who was being morphed into history’s youngest heavyweight champion (20) by trainer Cus D’Amato — meant Bruno, unlike most of Tyson’s victims, was never afraid of the human tornado.
With his trademark booming laugh, Bruno added: “If someone pulled a gun on me and held it to my head, yes I would be scared.
“If a crocodile walked up my garden path and into my bedroom, I would be s***ing myself.
“But going in the ring with Mike Tyson was OK.”
Until Bruno finally became a world champion in 1995 by beating American Oliver McCall at Wembley Stadium, plenty of fans wrote him off as a glass-jawed nearly man who had more catchphrases than title wins.
He admits the doubters hurt him more than he let on — but he also knows his never-say-die style has secured his status as a national treasure.
Bruno explained: “Sometimes you have to lose to really win.
“I won it the hard way, nothing came on a plate.
“Looking back now, it might have been nice to not have Mike Tyson right there waiting for me around every corner!
“But I am still just thankful for getting that title finally — and for all the fans who supported me through those years.”
- Bruno v Tyson is available on Sky Documentaries and NOW TV from tomorrow at 9pm.