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The Iron Years Part Two: Undisputed

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Mike Tyson: King of the Heavyweights

Undisputed Title Defences

16th October 1987, Convention Hall, Atlantic City

Mike Tyson Vs Tyrell Biggs

'Iron' Mike Tyson stepped into the ring for the first time as the unified champion. His opponent was ranked number one by the WBA and IBF. Tyrell Biggs won the Olympic Super-heavyweight gold medal in Los Angeles in 1984, beating top amateurs such as Canada's Lennox Lewis and Italy's Francesco Damiani along the way. He turned professional in November 1984, beating Mike Evans on points. He beat former title challengers James Tillis, Renaldo Snipes both by decision and stopped David Bey. However, in the Bey bout, which was on the undercard of Tyson Vs James Smith, Biggs suffered a nasty cut which required thirty-two stitches.

Four months later Biggs was back in action against Lorenzo Boyd, stopping his man in the third round. He next entered the ring awaiting the arrival of the champion, with a record of 15-0, ten opponents stopped. Before the fight, which was the last heavyweight championship contest scheduled for fifteen rounds, Biggs was in confident mood. "He's not fought anyone like me, someone with a strong jab who can box and is not going in there just to survive. Do you think I'm going to walk into the roundhouse punches of a guy who is 5-8?"

Biggs' style was to jab and move and with his amateur pedigree he looked like to have the tools to cause Tyson some problems. Biggs danced around the ring reminiscent to Muhammad Ali, but Tyson started to find his range halfway through the round and was able to land the more solid blows.

Tyson on the attack against Biggs

Tyson was out jabbing the taller man in the second round. He started to work the challenger's body and was able to land his left hook. The third and Tyson was either slipping or walking through his man's jab to land his bombs, preferably the left hook to the jaw. Biggs' troubles were escalating as the cut eye he suffered in the David Bey fight had opened up from the champion's rights.

Biggs didn't have the power to trouble Tyson, who just walked through everything the challenger had to offer. His hand speed and head movement was immense, as he was able to get inside and bang away to body and head through rounds four and five. Round six was more of the same, with Biggs getting busted up. His eye was bleeding and now so was his mouth.

With thirty seconds of the seventh round remaining, Tyson finally put Biggs down with a left hook. The challenger crashed into the ropes and sat up right contemplating whether to get up or not. He was up at nine, but shipped another right as the action resumed. Tyson banged away at the body and fired a right to the head, which Biggs blocked, but a left hook sent him to the canvas once more, with referee Tony Orlando not bothering to count with one second remaining of the round.

Mike Tyson's words after the fight were chilling. "He was doing so much talking that I wanted to make him pay with his health. I don't want to sound egotistical, but I could have knocked him out in the third round. I wanted to do it slowly. I wanted him to remember this for a long time."

22nd January 1988, Convention Center, Atlantic City

Mike Tyson Vs Larry Holmes

Larry Holmes was born 03rd November 1949 in Cuthburt, Georgia and later resided in Easton, Pennsylvania. As an amateur his record stood at 19-3. He reached the semi finals of the 1972 Olympic trials, in Fort Worth, Texas, where he was beaten in the first round by Nick Wells (who beaten him before). He also lost to Duane Bobick, who was 55-0 as an amateur for the '72 Olympics box-offs in West Point, New York. A right hand dropped him in the first and was warned twice for holding in the second. When he was warned again in the third round the referee disqualified him.

Holmes was Muhammad Ali's sparing partner from 1972 to 1975, where Holmes said he had about eleven amateur fights before he started working with 'The Greatest'. He turned professional on 21st March 1973 winning an unanimous four round decision against Rodell Dupree. Holmes went 26-0 and took on the hard hitting Earnie Shavers for the WBC heavyweight championship eliminator. Over twelve rounds the three judges scored it 119-109 and 120-108 (twice) for Holmes.

Larry Holmes ships a right hand

His next contest saw him taking the WBC title off Ken Norton over a fifteen round split decision. He held that belt for five years, making sixteen defences. He was recognised by the newly formed International Boxing Federation as their champion on the 10th December 1983. The following day he relinquished the WBC belt as he wanted more money to fight Trevor Berbick.

Holmes made three successful defences of the IBF strap. As he looked to equal Rocky Marciano's record of 49-0 on the 21st September 1985, he lost the belt to the undisputed light-heavyweight champion Michael Spinks, on a close unanimous decision, ending his seven year reign as champion. At the post fight press conference a bitter Holmes famously said that Rocky Marciano couldn't carry his jockstrap. He also lost the return seven months later via a split fifteen round decision.

Holmes came out of retirement to face Tyson, saying this at a press conference. "I'm going down in history not Mike Tyson," said Holmes. "He'll go down in history as an S.O.B. If he do happen to win the fight, down the line he'll go and destroy himself."

The thirty-eight year old grandfather was able to tie up Tyson, who was the aggressor. The fourth Holmes came out with his hands down, dancing as he jabbed and retreated and tied up the advancing champion whenever he got close. Then Tyson sent Holmes crashing to the canvas with a mighty right hand. The former champion was up, but a glancing right put him down again. Holmes shook his head in an attempt to clear it. Tyson pressed forward and punched the challenger to the ropes. Another big right put the veteran on his back, with referee Joe Cortez taking out Holmes gum-shield without bothering to count.

The 'Easton Assassin' was assassinated by the young champion and became the first person to stop Holmes. Tyson gave praise to his stricken opponent. "Larry Holmes was a legendary fighter, and if he was at his best, I couldn't stand a chance."

21st March 1988, Tokyo Dome, Japan

Mike Tyson Vs Tony Tubbs

Mike Tyson married actress Robin Givens in February 1988 and honeymooned in Japan, before training for the Tubbs fight. He was amazed at his popularity and the attention he was getting. He emerged from his hotel lobby one morning at 5am to go for a run and was followed by fifteen Japanese news cameramen and photographers.

Tony Tubbs turned professional in 1980 and amassed an unbeaten run of twenty wins when he challenged Greg Page for the WBA championship in April 1985. He lost the belt in his next contest to Tim Witherspoon the following year. The former champ won three on the bounce before challenging Tyson, but for many of his fights he came in over weight and out of condition.

Even though the International Boxing Federation was nearly five years old, it still wasn't recognised by the Japanese Boxing Commission. They insisted during the negotiations of the fight that Tyson was not to wear the belt coming into the ring. Three days before the contest IBF president Bob Lee landed in Japan. He said if the champion didn't wear the belt to the ring, then he would take it as a sign that Tyson didn't want to be their champion anymore and would order a bout between Trevor Berbick and Carl Williams, (the IBF number one and two contenders respectively), for the vacant strap.

Tony Tubbs under pressure

Bill Cayton, Tyson's co-manager said. "It was a condition of this fight that the IBF not participate. For Tyson to wear the belt into the ring here would be considered a grave insult to the Japanese Commission." Tyson didn't wear any belts into the ring, but the WBC and WBA championships were carried in by Tyson's assistant trainer Steve Lott.

51,000 fans attended the 55,000 capacity Tokyo Dome, which only opened four days previously, to watch the first heavyweight title fight in Japan since George Foreman knocked out Jose Roman in the first round in 1973.

Tubbs was picked by co-promotor Akihiko Honda as he thought the former WBA champ had a good chance of extending Tyson into the later rounds and giving the fans a chance to see the main star in action. Tyson's purse was $10,000,000 whilst the challenger picked up $500,000. He was also offered a $50,000 bonus if he weighed in under 235lbs, but he came in just over 238lbs.

The first round and Tubbs traded blows with Tyson, using jabs and quick combinations to blunt the champions quick assaults. The flabby looking challenger had surprisingly quick hands. The second round started much as the first, but Tubbs began to grab, as Tyson's attacks, especially the shots to Tubbs' blubbery midsection were getting through. As the round drew to a close Tyson's handiwork was starting to take effect.

The effects of a Tyson left hook

Tubbs was caught on the ropes sagging as he took more body assaults. As he tried to throw a combination Tyson connected with a left hook that caught him over the right eye. The challenger was hurt and reeled as he tried to walk, then slowly began to spin before falling flat on his back in the ring corner unable to move. His seconds rushed into the ring as Arthur Mercante counted him out with six seconds of the round remaining.

HBO commentator Larry Merchant cruelly said "If you thought whale hunting was outlawed in Japan, we just saw that Mike Tyson hadn't heard about it."

The following day the IBF announced that they still recognised Tyson as their title holder. Even though the organisation wasn't involved in the contest, Tyson's managers quietly paid them sanctioning fees when they returned to the US. Bob Lee complained that it was "Hush money," but he took it anyway.

27th June 1988 Convention Hall, Atlantic City

Mike Tyson Vs Michael Spinks

Michael Spinks waiting to face Tyson

Michael Spinks won gold in the middleweight division at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. He finished his amateur career with a record of 93-7 (35 KO's) and turned professional as a light-heavyweight on the 16th April 1977, knocking out Eddie Benson in the first round.

Competing in only his seventeenth contest he took on Eddie Mustafa Muhammad on the 18th July 1981 for the WBA light-heavyweight championship, taking it by a fifteen round unanimous decision. He defended the belt five times before unifying it with WBC champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi, again by a fifteen round unanimous verdict. One defence later he added the IBF title to his collection, beating Eddie Davis over twelve rounds to become undisputed champion on the 25th February 1984.

He made two more defences, both against undefeated fighters, David Sears and Jim MacDonald, before moving up to the heavyweight division to take on 48-0 IBF champion Larry Holmes in September 1985. Spinks won a close unanimous decision over fifteen rounds, to become the first reigning light-heavyweight champion to lift the heavyweight title.

The following April Spinks fought Holmes again, winning a split decision. He then defended the belt against Norway's Steffen Tangstad, winning by a fourth round TKO. This proved to be his last defence, as the IBF stripped him for taking on Gerry Cooney for more money, rather than face their mandatory contender Tony Tucker.

Spinks put down for the first time in his career by a right to the body

As Spinks didn't lose his belt in the ring, he was still regarded as a heavyweight champion, with the Cooney fight being billed as for the heavyweight championship, which took place on the 15th June 1987. Spinks improved his record to 31-0 as he stopped his opponent in round five.

Twelve months later and what was Spinks' longest career layoff, was in with Mike Tyson to see who really was the heavyweight champion of the world. It was the first time that two unbeaten claimants for the heavyweight title met each other.

Just before Tyson was about to leave his dressing room to prepare for his ring walk, Spinks' promotor, Butch Lewis, noticed what he thought was a bulge on the wrist of Tyson's left glove. "Hold it. Get rid of that, or we don't fight," said Lewis.

Team Tyson explained that the lump was just knotted laces, but Lewis was having none of it and demanded that Larry Hazzard, the chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission examine it. Hazzard found no issue with the glove, but Lewis protested further. Lewis didn't back down until Spinks' trainer, the seventy-seven year old Eddie Futch saw the lump as harmless.

The end is near for Spinks

As this was going on, the twenty-one year old champion paced his dressing room in anger. As Lewis left the changing room, Tyson looked at his trainer Kevin Rooney and softly said. "You know. I'm gonna hurt this guy (Spinks)."

Michael Spinks waited in the ring for the arrival of the champion. As he took off his robe, he looked dry. In contrast Tyson was dripping in sweat and looked primed to go during the introductions. Tyson started quickly throwing hooks to the body and head. Spinks backed off trying his straight right hand, but Tyson just walked through it. Referee Frank Capuccino warned the young champion for the use of the elbow.

The action resumed and Tyson continued to unload and backed Spinks to the ropes. A left hook landed on the side of Spinks' head and a follow up right to the body dropped the challenger for the first time in his career. Spinks was up straight away and took the mandatory eight count.

Spinks down and out after just 91 seconds

Spinks came forward and threw a right hand and missed, but Tyson's right landed flush and Spinks was poleaxed on his back, for the second and final time as he failed to beat the count after just 91 seconds of the contest. It was Tyson's sixteenth first round victory in his professional career.

Mike Tyson earned $22,000,000 ($241,758.24 per second) which was the highest purse ever paid to a boxer at the time. Spinks earned $13.5 million and retired the following month with a resume of 31-1 (21 KO's).

This was the last time Tyson would have Bill Cayton as his manager and Kevin Rooney as his trainer, as promotor Don King took sole control of the youngest heavyweight champion's career.

25th February 1989 Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Center, Las Vegas

Mike Tyson Vs Frank Bruno

Britain's Frank Bruno was ranked number one by the WBC and WBA. He had an amateur record of 20-1 and was the youngest winner of the ABA title in 1980, aged eighteen. After eye surgery he turned professional on the 17th March 1982, knocking out American Lupe Guerra in the first round. He went 21-0 all knockouts, before getting stopped in the tenth and final by future WBA champion James 'Bonecrusher' Smith.

Frank Bruno covers up from a Tyson attack

It wasn't until his twenty-fifth contest that Bruno went the distance, winning every round on referee Larry O'Connell's scorecard against Phillipp Brown in November 1984. Bruno picked up his first professional title on the 01st October 1985, when he beat the huge Swede Anders Ecklund for the European heavyweight crown.

The following year he was in with former WBA champion Gerrie Coetzee in a world title eliminator. Bruno floored the South African within 60 seconds with a left, right combination. The former champion was up, but cut. The contest was over after 110 seconds thanks to a clubbing right from Bruno.

He next challenged Tim Witherspoon for the WBA belt at Wembley Stadium in front of 40,000 people. Both men did land some solid head punches, but the contest was on the dull side. Witherspoon's left eye was badly swollen, whilst Bruno suffered a cut left eye. Even though the challenger enjoyed a reach advantage, the champion was able to out jab Bruno. The end came suddenly in the eleventh as Bruno landed a three punch combination to the head, but Witherspoon responded with a crashing overhand right.

Bruno reeled to a neutral corner, as the champion saw the chance to finish and fired in three more overhand rights that sent the Brit down as his cornermen threw in the towel. Bruno bounced back with three wins, two of them against former Tyson victims, James Tillis and Reggie Gross. Bruno's last fight before Tyson was at Tottenham Hotspurs football ground, White Hart Lane, on 24th October 1987. His opponent was veteran Joe Bugner, who was never forgiven for his controversial points win over Britain's favourite Henry Cooper in 1971, who was looking to topple Britain's current darling of the heavyweights, Frank Bruno.

It took eight rounds for Bruno to club his man to defeat. His next fight was for the undisputed title, but he had to wait some time to get his shot. That fight was scheduled for 03rd September 1988, again at Wembley Stadium, but Tyson was in court to sever all relations with his manager Bill Cayton. Tyson wanted six to eight weeks off after they settled out of court so the bout was pushed back to 08th October.

In August 1988 Tyson broke his hand in a street fight with former opponent Mitch Green, postponing the contest to the 22nd October. In September 1988 the champion was knocked unconscious when he drove his BMW into a tree. Due to his injuries the bout was rescheduled for the 17th December. In October '88 Tyson's wife filed for divorce, with the champion countersuing her. As he needed to be close to his lawyers the fight had to be moved from being in England to an American venue. The date was also changed to 14th January 1989.

New trainer Aaron Snowell gives Tyson some advice between rounds

The January date was scrapped because Cayton and Tyson were in dispute again over the contract the champion had signed with Don King in October 1988. In November Tyson sued Cayton to end all managerial contact and the Bruno fight finally went ahead in February 1985.

In December 1988 Tyson fired his longtime trainer Kevin Rooney when he publicly commented on Tyson's failed marriage. Aaron Snowell and Jay Bright were to be his replacements. Both boxers were out of the ring for a while before this contest; Tyson hadn't fought since becoming the lineal champion in eight months, whilst Bruno was out of action for sixteen months.

Bruno was clubbed down in the opening seconds of the contest and it looked like another early night for the twenty-two year old champion. Bruno was up, head clear and evaded a smashing left hook as he grabbed and held. Tyson looked to land haymakers as Bruno held him around the back of the head and clubbed away with his right hand. Tyson was wild and as he stumbled to the ropes, facing the crowd, Bruno landed a right to the head. Referee Richard Steele, who had already warned the challenger twice for holding, stopped the action and deducted a point for the offence. Towards the end of this blistering round Bruno's moment came. He stung the champion with a right then crashed home a left hook that had the champion in trouble. Tyson went to the ropes, but the challenger couldn't land the equaliser and his hopes of lifting the title were gone. "One man down, the other man wobbled, I'll take it!" HBO's commentator Larry Merchant stated.

Bruno's challenge is coming to an end

Since tasting Bruno's power, the champion wasn't intent on rushing in so much. Bruno was still doing a lot of holding, but Tyson was illegally using his elbow on he referee's blindside. After the third round Aaron Snowell chased Steele around the ring to complain about Bruno's constant holding. Bruno was visibly getting tired as the speed of Tyson was getting to him and by the fifth the champion overwhelmed his man.

Bruno did land two shots to the ribcage, but a left hook to the jaw sent the Londoner into the ropes by Tyson's corner. Tyson unleashed heavy blows to body and head and Stele stopped the contest with five seconds remaining of the fifth, as Bruno's trainer Terry Lawless came in with the towel.

21st July 1989 Convention Center, Atlantic City

Mike Tyson Vs Carl Williams

Carl Williams turned professional in 1982, after winning two New York Golden Gloves Championships as an amateur. He won sixteen professional contests in a row, but was dropped twice in the first round against James Tillis, before winning a ten round unanimous decision, the fight before he challenged Larry Holmes on the 20th May 1985 for the IBF heavyweight crown. He lost a fifteen round unanimous decision 143-142, and 146-139 twice.

In his next fight he got up off the canvas to halt Jesse Ferguson's unbeaten run, but in the following contest he was knocked down three times in the second round against former champion Mike Weaver. He then won five in a row and outpointed Trevor Berbick to become the IBF mandatory challenger to Mike Tyson.

Carl Williams lands a stiff left jab

Carl 'The Truth' Williams entered the ring with a record of 22-2 (17 KO's), but he had been floored seven times in his career, all by left hooks. His plan was to work behind his fast jab and tie up the shorter champion when he got inside. It was Tyson who landed with the jab first and threw a left which landed on William's glove.

Williams was warned for holding, who momentarily adopted Frank Bruno's tactics of holding Tyson around the back of the head with his left hand and hitting with the right. Referee Randy Neumann, an ex boxer himself constantly had to separate the two gladiators.

In mid ring Williams scored with a stiff left jab. He fired out another, but the champion slipped it and countered with a left hook to the jaw, flooring Williams. As he fell they both butted heads and the challenger fell into the ropes. His first attempt to get up failed, but he managed to get to his feet at the second time of trying to take the eight count.

A left hook floors Williams

Neumann asked if he was ok, but Williams seemed to shrug in response. With the referee unhappy with his answer waved it off with 93 seconds on the clock. Williams protested, but it was to no avail. Tyson moved to 37-0 (33 KO's) with seventeen coming in the first round.

"My right hand is my better punch, but I never hit anyone with it," Tyson said in the post fight interview. "It is always my left hook. The hardest part is getting in to throw the left. Once I'm inside - bing - I throw it. There is nobody that can beat me. I love doing this. No man is invincible, but I will take all comers to find out."

"He (Neumann) asked if I was alright. I put my hands up," Williams said after the fight, even though he didn't actually put his hands up. Williams also tried to get the bout classed as a no contest, due to the clash of heads as he went down. This was denied.

11th February 1990 Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan

Mike Tyson Vs James Douglas

‘Iron’ Mike was a 35-1 favourite to win easily. The fight against James ‘Buster’ Douglas was deemed such a mismatch that no American venue would stage it. The only option was to take the show on the road and Japan offered big money to stage another Tyson fight.

James ‘Buster’ Douglas had been knocking around the circuit for years, mostly as a supporting player. In 1987 he fought the undefeated Tony Tucker for the vacant IBF crown. He boxed bravely and traded on level terms for nine rounds, until suddenly stamina and courage disappeared simultaneously. He simply stopped fighting and Tucker punched him to a standstill in the tenth.

Douglas’ father and trainer, who was a decent middle and light-heavyweight twenty years before and it was at his urging for his son to give up a promising career in American Football in favour of the ring, claimed ‘Buster’ was a coward and embarrassed to work with his son again after the Tucker debacle.

Douglas plodded on and held down a place in the world’s top ten by remaining unbeaten. In February 1989 on the Tyson/Bruno undercard, Douglas outpointed former WBC champion Trevor Berbick, which secured him a shot at the winner.

Everyone knew about Tyson’s reputation in the ring, but his reputation outside the ring was also growing, not for the right reasons. His private life was in turmoil. His marriage was in tatters, finances were in utter chaos and the management team that made him the youngest champion shattered. Jim Jacobs had died, Kevin Rooney, his trainer had been fired and he was estranged from Jacobs’ management partner Bill Cayton. The suffocating presence of Don King had taken over his career and life.

Tyson's timing is off

Tyson distrusted those who hung on to his shirt-tails of success. It rankled that everyone wanted to know him now, while before boxing gave him his fame and fortune nobody gave him the time of day. Cuts D’Amato, his former mentor, was an exception but he was no longer alive to give a moderating and paternal influence.

Douglas also had his personal demons. His mother died the week before he left for Tokyo, the mother of his eleven year old son was terminally ill and his marriage too was also broken. This had given Douglas a fresh perspective on the hardships of boxing and he turned these negatives into a positive, as he drove himself into the best shape of his career. Gone was the blubbery heavyweight of yesteryear, whilst a highly motivated and superbly conditioned athlete replaced him,

Tyson on the other hand, who prided himself on being in top condition looked soft, grey and ill conditioned as he entered the ring. The suspicions of Tyson not turning up regularly in the gym were looking to be true, but despite that and the fact he was floored in sparring by Greg Page, Douglas was considered such an outsider that only a handful of American boxing writers bothered to cross the Pacific and Las Vegas casinos suspended betting on the contest.

The bell sounded to start Tyson’s tenth world title defence and it was apparent that the champion had grossly underestimated his rival. Douglas matched Tyson for hand-speed and countered beautifully with a right hand off the ropes. Buster looked confident, relaxed and unlike Tyson’s previous opponents not scared. He moved his 16st 7lbs frame around the ring with grace as he speared the champion’s defence with jabs.

Douglas picked things up in the second from where he started in the first; his jab and right counter helped him win the round and he started to make good use of his right uppercut, a punch that was the perfect counter to Tyson’s squat walk in style. Since the termination of Kevin Rooney’s contract it seemed that Tyson’s new training team of Aaron Snowell and Jay Bright had abandoned all the boxing skills he had learned under Cus D’Amato, in favour of whirlwind assaults to finish off opponents as quickly as possible.

James 'Buster' Douglas lands another right

‘Iron’ Mike tried to get a foothold of the fight in the third, but even though the challenger matched him and smothered his attacks, he did manage to wobble Douglas with a left hook. Douglas rallied back and the bell rang to end the round.

Tyson’s left eye was beginning to swell in the fourth thanks to Buster’s right hand. Douglas also out-punched Tyson in the fifth, notably a left, right, left combination that snapped the twenty-three year old champion’s head back. Tyson slumped back to his corner with the air of a man who knew his time was up.

Tyson raised his game in the sixth as the challenger took a breather and was content to maul and smother, denying a fight finishing shot from the champion. Douglas went back to his jab and tactics he employed from the first bell of stepping out of range and countering brilliantly as Tyson over-reached.

A bruised Mike Tyson watches Douglas get to his feet at the end of round 8

Towards the end of the eighth round Tyson took a hard right to the mouth and retreated to the ropes. As they came together the Italian referee Octavio Meyran ordered them to break. Tyson still on the ropes ducked under a pawing left from Douglas and landed a crunching uppercut that exploded on ‘Buster’s’ jaw, and sent him crashing to the canvas. Meyran hesitated for vital seconds, giving the challenger; who was well in front on the scorecards; every chance of beating the count. Had Douglas been taking a beating then surely Tyson would’ve retained his crown.

Douglas wobbled up-right at the second attempt; and with the referee’s count at nine; he had actually been on the floor for thirteen-seconds. This wasn’t the challenger’s fault. A fighter simply picks up the count from the ref and not the timekeeper and Douglas was fully entitled to his extra recovery period. However he was ready to be taken and a split second after Meyran signalled for the action to resume the bell saved Douglas from a fight ending onslaught.

Tyson, like a shark sensing blood, went in for the finish in the ninth. Douglas responded and had Tyson backing up, it seemed as the champion’s chance had gone. Douglas rallied and the only thing keeping Tyson on his feet were the ropes. He soaked up a pounding and if nothing else showed he had the heart of a champion and an iron jaw, even if a section of the press claimed this not to be the case after the fight.

The tenth started and Tyson fired in a hard right, but the tank was empty and Douglas sized him up with jabs before blasting the champion with a devastating right uppercut and a four punch salvo that left the dazed Tyson scrambling on all fours looking for his gum shield, that the final punch sent flying. He crammed it into his mouth lopsidedly and made it to his feet, but only into the arms of Meyran who waved the finish. The impossible had happened and the awe of invincibility that shrouded Tyson was gone forever.

Tyson is just seconds away from his first defeat

Douglas, the 42-1 underdog; the longest odds in championship history; had pulled off the biggest upset since James J Corbett beat John L Sullivan in 1892, as he outboxed, outfought and outgunned Tyson.

Don King and Tyson tried every trick in the book to wrench the heavyweight championship out of Douglas’ hands citing the controversy of the eighth round count. The WBC and WBA pontificated at some length as to why they weren't recognising Douglas as the champion, who in turn said, “They can go to hell.” Only the IBF came out of this with any dignity.

It was their underhandedness that stopped an immediate rematch and coming under heavy fire from across the world King was forced to recognise Douglas as the undisputed heavyweight champion, but held him to a promotional contract, which led to complex legal activity in Las Vegas then New Jersey.

The king is dead, long live the king


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