The overly confident title holder (falls hard)

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I read an article in the New York Times recently about Dana Rohrabacher that reminded me, in a huge way, of the Feb. 11, 1990 heavyweight title fight between James (Buster) Douglas and Mike Tyson.

The piece, written by Dave Weigel, detailed Rohrabacher’s confidence as he heads into next year’s election. He’s hardly lacking in self-belief.

Take a gander …

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Way back 27 years ago, Tyson was in Rohrabacher’s shoes. He was the heavyweight champion of the world; the holder of the WBC, WBA and IBF titles; seemingly invincible and indestructible. He had won his first 37 professional fights, including a recent first-round TKO of Carl Williams and a 91-second destruction of Michael Spinks. There were good boxers, there were great boxers and there was Mike Tyson—the terrifying boxer.

But then, on that February night, something happened. The Mike Tyson who entered the ring in Tokyo got soft and complacent. He didn’t work quite as hard; he confused victories for verifications; he soaked in the adulation and lost the intensity. His rival, the obscure Douglas, was a nobody whose 29-4-1 record seemed downright pedestrian. Hell, he was listed in Las Vegas as a 42-to-1 underdog.

Here’s what happened …

I don’t know if Harley Rouda or Laura Oatman will win this election. I truly don’t. But when I watch Dana Rohrabacher, and I hear him talk, and I watch him hide from constituents, and I see him try and put forth the ol’ happy surf guy persona, I can’t help but recall Tyson, all cocky and macho, step into a ring unprepared for what was about to hit him.

He knew no better.

But he was about to fall.

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