That's always the problem, comparing people in their prime, from different eras.
Certainly one of the greatest talents ever -- not just rage, that's just the flash that was sold to the public, the discipline and upper body movement, the defence, look at his head and neck in those early fights, did you ever see anyone actually connect on Tyson? No you didn't, that's how good he was. Who knows what he might have been if Cus Damato had lived longer, and Don King didn't get his hands into Tyson.
No doubt that he was a very troubled person, and Damato was maybe the only person who never abused him, but rather cared for him. I just saw the after fight commentary -- you can't help but feel for Tyson, you rarely hear such an honest self-appraisal -- what did he say? I haven't got the guts anymore, I don't want to embarass boxing anymore, I wish I could give people back their money? And you could hear it laced with a boxer's bravado too -- "by losing to this caliber of fighter" Maybe insulting, but honest...
Let's face it, Tyson was flat out scary in those early days -- there didn't seem to be any answers, the punches he threw hurt, not just the knockout, which you don't feel untill after, every single throw in the combination -- they were too fast, too hard, too many. Everything you threw would miss, and everything he landed felt like it was going to kill you. How many boxers just gave up, basically, in fear? How many fights did he win in less than 90 sec, or one round. Those guys wanted out of the ring -- that's the only explanation -- big tough guys who couldn't think of anything but how to get out of there. And a 10 count was the fastest way. No one else won that way, so consistently, so unreservedly. That's what made Tyson a phenom!
Anyway, Lennox Lewis is possibly the most underrated heavyweight ever. I think he could have taken Tyson (the fearsom young Tyson) well, though it could easily have gone either way... He's cautious, never scared. Most of his critics don't make the distinction. His dispassionate approach within the ring makes him an interesting opponent to Tyson -- whom he handled, though he did so once Tyson was out of his prime -- Tyson's own fault, he paid step-aside money, so that tells you something even Tyson's handlers could see... A very big, very strong, excellent technician, and level headed (much better than Klitschko). Lewis's greatest asset was that he always seemed ultimately secure in himself, not unafraid, just supremely stoic -- A couple of times too secure, that wouldn't have happened against Tyson.
The other guy, though they were both in different states of decline by the time of Tyson-Holyfield 1, was of course Evander Holyfield. As smart as Lewis was, you could say Holyfield was valiant -- like a loyal dog -- and the hardest working boxer of this last generation, possibly of all time. Always boxed outside his ability -- which was not inconsiderable, but not the same as Tyson, or Lewis. He wasn't afraid of Tyson, and so obviously better conditioned, he looked good, and won. He was even underestimated by Lewis, who should have handled him, but didn't, or couldn't. Tons of hard work and a granite chin will do that for you.
Tyson had the most talent, and, early on, the best training.
Holyfield had the best work ethic. And Lewis had the smarts and physical gifts, but was lazy...
So look at those three fighters, which tell the tale of the last decade, and you see that there were throughout the ages probably a lot of guys that would have known what to do with Tyson. Big George Foreman could take a beating at 42 (Holyfield), and knock out serious contenders (Cooney) and Moorer (for the championship, then at 45!)
With that belly blocking the uppercuts, Tyson might have been in trouble against George too!
But this is not to take away from Tyson. Just to say that picking the best even out of the same generation isn't all that easy. Showmanship, technical skill, physical ability, wins, not just how many, but how, and against whom? You factor everything, and realy have to reserve judgement... anyone can get beaten, and does if they fight long enough.
Give Tyson his due, there was a period of time when he was a nightmare.