Long before the movie cameos and pigeon races, Mike Tyson earned his reputation as the "baddest man on the planet" by bulldozing through his opponents with equal parts intimidation and boxing prowess. On Sunday, the boxing world recognized the former heavyweight champion for his accomplishments by inducting him into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Known as much for his out-of-ring antics as he was for his boxing skills, Tyson single handedly dominated the heavyweight boxing division for the latter half of a decade before succumbing to personal demons that essentially left fans wondering what "might have been." Still, there is no denying that Tyson's ferocity and unpredictability made him boxing's biggest draw for nearly two decades. Here is a look back at "Iron Mike's" most memorable five fights.
Mike Tyson vs. Trevor Berbick. Nov. 22, 1986
Tyson passed his first real test in the heavyweight division by knocking out Berbick and becoming the youngest ever heavyweight champion at age 20. The combination of speed, raw power, and mental toughness that Tyson unleashed against Berbick would strike fear into his opponents for the remainder of the decade, which he would go on to dominate.
Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks. June 27, 1988Boxing fans often mark this fight as Tyson's greatest career performance. Not that there was much fight to judge by: Tyson knocked Spinks down twice in 91 seconds, handing him the only defeat in his professional boxing career. While boxing gurus do not generally consider Tyson the greatest fighter ever, some experts will argue that on this night in 1988, no fighter in the history of the sport would have stood a chance against him. The fight, aptly billed as "Once and for all," proved Tyson the undisputed champion of boxing.
Mike Tyson vs. James "Buster" Douglas. Nov. 2, 1990By this point in his career, Tyson had effortlessly stopped anyone who dared step foot in the ring with him, and proved himself boxing's elite heavyweight. Many considered the Buster Douglas fight in Japan nothing more than another inevitable notch in Tyson's belt, as boxing fans anxiously awaited a "mega-fight" between Tyson and Evander Holyfield. Douglas, a 42-1 underdog in the fight, shocked the world by dominating Tyson from the early rounds before finally knocking him out in the 10th. This fight is widely recognized as the greatest upset in boxing history.
Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield II. June 28, 1997The superfight was originally scheduled for 1991 before an injury and jail sentence forced Tyson to postpone indefinitely. When they finally met for the first time in 1996, an aging Holyfield unexpectedly defeated Tyson to claim the WBA title. The highly anticipated rematch was quickly scheduled for the following year, and the nearly 2 million households who ordered the fight set a pay-per-view record. One can argue that the fans got their money's worth, but it certainly wasn't in the conventional sense.
Instead of an epic match between two boxing greats, the fight quickly turned into a circus. Increasingly frustrated with headbutts from Holyfield, Tyson visciously attacked in the third round by chomping down on the former champ's ear. Referee Mills Lane stopped the fight and disqualified Tyson, awarding Holyfield the win. Pandemonium quickly broke out in the ring while a bloodied chunk of Evander's ear laid on the canvas.
Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis. June 8, 2002For Tyson, a chance to finally regain the title instead became his biggest media debacle yet. Well known for his offensive and controversial interviews, Mike made even bigger headlines in the months leading up to the fight by stating his intentions to "rip out" Lewis's heart and "eat his children," reports Time. The press conference turned into an all-out brawl when tensions between the two camps finally erupted in physical confrontation.
Despite the hype, the fight itself proved lackluster, as Lewis used his reach advantage to dominate Tyson into the 8th round before finally knocking him out. Tyson was uncharacteristically complimentary toward Lewis after the fight, and seemed to finally come to terms with his decline. While Tyson would go on to fight a few more times against lesser opponents, this would be the last "big hurrah" for the aging brawler.
Sources: Tyson TalkTop 10 Mike Tyson Moments, Time Magazine.
Rafael, Dan. Mike Tyson reflects on his HOF career. ESPN
- undisputed champion
- Referee Mills Lane
- Trevor Berbick
- Michael Spinks
- Mike Tyson
- Lennox Lewis