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While everyone who fights for a living has to be pretty tough, Mike Tyson is in a league of his own. During his prime, few men were more fearsome than Iron Mike; stepping into the ring with the heavyweight champ was like buying a one-way ticket to pain. Even Tyson’s punching power, however, has its limits.

During the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, Tyson will be taking on a great white shark. While it’s not exactly how they’ll compete, don’t expect Iron Mike to overpower the ocean’s apex predator.

Mike Tyson was a force of nature in the boxing ring

These days, Mike Tyson has become a bit of a meme, appearing in The Hangover and cracking jokes with Joe Rogan. During his time in the ring, however, you would never take the boxer lightly.

After a tough childhood in Brooklyn, Tyson found himself in upstate New York’s Tyron School for Boys. There, he met Bobby Stewart, a boxer turned counselor; the former fighter recognized Mike’s potential and introduced him to legendary trainer Cus D’Amato.

D’Amato harnessed the teenager’s strength and aggression and taught him the defensive ‘peek-a-boo’ technique; that gave Tyson all the tools he needed to succeed. He claimed two Junior Olympic gold medals before turning pro and then began dispatching grown men with incredible ease.

While things eventually collapsed in dramatic fashion, Tyson seemed like a terrifying force of nature during his prime. Thanks to his powers of intimidation, many opponents were beaten before they ever set foot in the ring; even those who thought they could hang with Iron Mike were often dispatched in a matter of seconds. Although Tyson’s reputation is a bit tainted today, his reign as world heavyweight champ and 44 career knockouts speak for themselves.

Making a comeback against a great white shark

Over the past few months, rumors have been swirling about Mike Tyson’s potential comeback. Even the biggest boxing fan, however, couldn’t have guessed his next opponent.

During the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, Tyson will square off a great white shark in Tyson Vs. Jaws: Rumble on the Reef. While it’s not clear exactly what will happen—it’s safe to assume that Iron Mike won’t be donning scuba equipment and trying to punch a shark—the former heavyweight champ still sounds invested in the event.

“I took on this challenger to overcome fears I still deal with in life,” said Tyson in a statement shared by Entertainment Weekly. “I equate this with overcoming my fear of getting back into the ring at 54 years old. I learned from this experience doing Shark Week that whatever intimidates me, I am still able to step up to the challenge of overcoming anything that would prevent me from accomplishing my life’s mission of reaching my highest potential in life and bringing me closer to God.”

Even Mike Tyson can’t overpower a great white shark

Thanks to his tigers, Mike Tyson is no stranger to squaring off with wild animals. Just don’t expect the boxer to beat a shark when it comes to pure power.

As any boxing fan can tell you, Tyson’s punches pack some serious power; you don’t knock out professional fighters in a matter of seconds without having some serious muscle behind your gloves. It’s estimated that a single blow from Iron Mike generates 1,178 lb-ft of force or 1,600 joules of energy. While those numbers may not mean much to the average person, Thrillist explains that it’s equivalent to “getting hit with a 221-pound anvil dropped from five feet.”

While there’s obviously some wiggle room depending on the exact shark, National Geographic estimates that a great white’s bite would exert nearly 4,000 pounds per square inch of force. That converts to 780,951 joules, making Jaws almost 500 times more powerful than Tyson’s punch.

It goes without saying that no one wants to take a punch from Mike Tyson. A bite from a great white shark, however, still sounds quite a bit worse.


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