Moore was asked in a recent interview with Eurogamer if he was “comfortable” with Tyson, who was convicted of raping Desiree Washington in 1992 and spent three years in prison as a result, being on the cover of Fight Night Round 4 alongside Muhammad Ali. Moore said he understood that people might have “issues” with the use of Tyson’s image, adding that he eventually made the “hard choice” to put him there because of the respect Moore has for him as a boxer.
“He is on the cover of Fight Night Round 4 because he’s one of the greatest boxers of all time,” Moore said. “He’s on the cover because what our fans have told us and the feedback we got since Fight Night Round 3 is, what is the ultimate boxing match you would want to see if you could take a fighter in his prime versus another fighter in his prime? And overwhelmingly it’s Iron Mike Tyson – the Mike Tyson I remember as a kid out of New York – versus Muhammad Ali in his prime.”
When asked if there was anything an athlete could do to preclude his use on a videogame cover, Moore pointed toward recent scandals involving star baseball players who have been caught using steroids. “There’s a period where performance-enhancing drugs were not tested for, or the testing was kept private and so there is clearly a large percentage of baseball players from a particular era that used performance-enhancing drugs,” he said. “And many of them have been exposed, some of them have admitted to it, and it’s really difficult to pick through all of that. Athletes are human beings. You look at some of the decisions we have to make and they’re not easy to make, so it’s a case-by-case situation for us.”
Equating steroid use with rape may be outrageous but in terms of athletic legacy, which I guess is what Moore is getting at, only one of the two really has an impact. Tyson is a rapist and an inveterate scumbag but throughout the 1980s he was also the most dangerous man in the ring, well deserving his moniker of “the baddest man on the planet.” If his actions had tainted his accomplishments as a boxer – if he’d used stimulants during a fight, illegally taped his fists, paid off opponents – he’d never have made the cover. But since he’s only tainted as a human being, he gets a pass.