The idea was to prowl the boxing scene for whatever time span seemed to constitute a "season" and then come back and write it, showing as best as one could a world often as beguiling as it is repellent, never more so than when some of its contradictions--violence as art, innocent dreams poised against sleazoid schemes--are stood up to light.
But in late 1985, when that boxing odyssey began, it was hard to say just how any such opus would take shape. For there was no pulsing story line to the sport; at that moment the fight game was in a quiet phase.
Then it changed--by God, did it change. For along came broad-beamed Tyson--Mike Tyson, a two-bit prepubescent hood who took up his reformation in the ring, and found glory, a few dollars, and that dizzying celebrity that offers up millionaire's mansions right along with National Enquirer headlines.
Tyson became the lightning rod along which all the grand themes--ambition, love, greed, sex, and money--would be played out over a season that by now has become an era. This is the story of that Tyson era and those fighters, writers, sharpies, and showmen who constitute the best and worst of boxing.