Mike Tyson: celebrating 30 years to the day of greatest heavyweight history

November 22, 2016

It was the night which put the whole world on high alert to a primeval force come amongst us.

Thirty years ago, exactly, Michael Gerard Tyson became the youngest world champion in heavyweight history, a distinction he holds to this day.

This he achieved by reducing a strapping Jamaican giant far larger than himself to quivering jelly.

 Mike Tyson throws a punch on his way to shocking the world of boxing against Trevor Berbick

Tyson stands over Berbick after flooring the champion a month before his 21st birthday

Knocked out? Trevor Berbick was fortunate not be decapitated.

All the tortured angst of Tyson’s ruinous childhood in a New York crack house, all that venom stored from the abuse inflicted upon him in a juvenile institution, came prowling into the ballroom of the Las Vegas Hilton hotel.

Berbick arrives to the ring in black ahead of the eagerly awaited clash with the young prodigy

Tyson arrives in white for the heavyweight title fight at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas

It was with curiosity that a far wider audience tuned in to watch his challenge for the WBC title.

Intrigue turned to awe as this human wrecking ball went about his destructive business.

Tyson entered the ring in his work clothes, the simple white towelling top with black shorts and black boots which would become his trademark.

Berbick arrived via his victory over Pinklon Thomas at the onset of a tournament contrived by the WBC, WBA and IBF to answer public demand for a unified heavyweight champion.

Tyson had the look of a man who meant business in the most important fight of his career

The scheduled 12-round fight drew a huge crowd to the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas 30 years ago

Tyson’s knockout record had established him as the marginal favourite in the casinos. A late rush of money in the minutes before the first bell tightened the odds still further as Berbick was seen to be avoiding his challenger’s malevolent gaze.

The punters would be rewarded. Promptly.

A hesitant Berbick managed to land one hefty blow early in the first round. But when he saw it had no effect on Tyson he became more overawed.

Not without justification. It was not only the thunderous power but the lightning speed of Tyson which rendered so many opponents impotent.

So quick was the jab and so fast his combination that his co-manager Jim Jacobs remarked: ‘Berbick looks like he’s fighting in slow motion.’

Tyson never let the Jamaican-born fighter settle on his way to winning WBC heavyweight title

Respite was brief for Berbick as Tyson left the champion's senses scrambled by his onslaught

The end came just as rapidly as the punches. A vicious left hook to the temple sent Berbick crashing to the canvas. He managed to beat the count but his survivalist attempt to cover up and hold on was undone by a rib-cracking right to the body.

As he dropped his guard, another short, savage left hook to the head had the tell-tale delayed effect of toppling him like a falling redwood tree in his adoptive Canada.

Again he rose, only to wobble back to his knees. Once more he clambered to his feet but was on the buckling legs of a drunk, his senses scrambled. He would have fallen again but for the remarkable strength shown by referee Mills Lane – a diminutive circuit judge in Nevada – in keeping this staggering hulk upright as he called an end with 25 seconds of round two remaining.

Tyson, in his case, was at the not-so-tender age of 20 years, four months, three weeks and two days.

Tyson’s first words to Jacobs: ‘Would Cus have liked that?’

Referee Mills Lane called a halt to proceedings with 25 seconds of round two remaining

Thus he dedicated his first world title to the memory of the late Cus D’Amato, to whom Tyson was paroled from juvenile detention at the age of 14 and who became not only his trainer but also his legal guardian.

D’Amato took the young Tyson into his sprawling house in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York and told him that despite his comparatively small stature – he never measured close to the 5ft 11 ½ touted in the statistics – he could become the heavyweight champion.

His new home also offered a safe haven for Tyson’s pigeons.

He had begun knocking out bigger men when, as a boy, he turned on a gangster, in his crime-ridden Brooklyn neighbourhood, who had ripped the head off one of his beloved birds.

Tyson displayed a remarkable maturity for someone with such power to floor Berbick

Now, with the felling of Berbick, the legend of Iron Mike was born. Along with it a new, dark, brutally menacing era for prize-fighting as he said: ‘I was out for blood tonight.’

Onward he would storm to wrap up that unification tournament, defeating James Bonecrusher Smith and then Tony Tucker to become the first heavyweight to hold the WBC, WBA and IBF belts.

A one-minute and 31 seconds demolition of Michael Spinks – a petrified testament to Tyson’s aura of psychological intimidation – added the Ring Magazine and lineal title to his collection. Another unique distinction, still undisputed.

There were mighty troubles ahead. The greatest of all upsets by Buster Douglas in Tokyo four years later was but the first.

That rape conviction – one of several run-ins with the law – put him behind bars for what should have been three prime years of his fighting life. And these are by no means the half of his turbulent misadventures.

The stocky New Yorker brought some much needed life back into the division with his victory

Tyson went on to enjoy a fine career but beating Berbick was one of his finest achievements

When he re-joined the society he sometimes frightened, he regained a world title with his second stoppage of our own Frank Bruno. Bu then came the biting of Holyfield’s ear in the second of two back-to-back defeats by the great Evander.

His career petered out into three defeats in his last four fights, peculiarly against men from these isles – Lennox Lewis, Danny Williams and Kevin McBride.

But by then the power and the glory, the speed and the will had faded.

Gone, too, was all the money. We watched and worried as this innately likeable but bipolar man of considerable but uneducated and therefore unformed intelligence blew $300million.

Floyd Mayweather beware. That sum would be worth today not much less than Mr Money’s estimated wealth of $600m. And while I looked on once as Iron Mike bought a six-pack of Rolls Bentleys, he did not purchase private planes by the squadron.

Easy come, easy go. It is harder, then, to turn your life around but that is one of Tyson’s finest achievements.

Boxing promoter Don King lifts new heavyweight champion Mike Tyson on November 22, 1986

Iron Mike is now a devoted husband and loving father who earns a reasonable, steady living from the one-man stage show in which he recounts quite brilliantly the story of his triumphs, trials, tribulations and eventual salvation.

Berbick never fully recovered from being monstered by the baddest man on the planet.

The last man to meet and defeat Muhammad Ali in the ring drifted into a twilight world of drugs, theft, guns and four years imprisonment for rape.

Ten years ago he was found murdered in a church courtyard in the West Indies with chop wounds to his head.

Tyson, on the night he became the youngest of all time as well as the greatest since Ali, said: ‘I will also be the oldest heavyweight champion.’

Storms of controversy and Big George Foreman denied that prediction. More importantly, having once foretold that he would not live to 40, he celebrated his 50th birthday this June.

Congratulations, champ. Forever young.

MIKE TYSON’S ROUTE TO BECOMING WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION 
No.ResultRecordOpponentTypeRound, TimeDateVenue
28Win28-0Trevor BerbickTKO2 (12), 2:35Nov 22, 1986Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.
27Win27-0Alfonso RatliffTKO2 (10), 1:41Sep 6, 1986Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.
26Win26-0Jos RibaltaTKO10 (10), 1:37Aug 17, 1986Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
25Win25-0Marvis FrazierKO1 (10), 0:30Jul 26, 1986Civic Center, Glens Falls, New York, U.S.
24Win24-0Lorenzo BoydKO2 (10), 1:43Jul 11, 1986Stevensville Hotel, Swan Lake, New York, U.S.
23Win23-0William HoseaKO1 (10), 2:03Jun 28, 1986Houston Field House, Troy, New York, U.S.
22Win22-0Reggie GrossTKO1 (10), 2:36Jun 13, 1986Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
21Win21-0Mitch GreenUD10May 20, 1986Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
20Win20-0James TillisUD10May 9, 1986Civic Center, Glens Falls, New York, U.S.
19Win19-0Steve ZouskiKO3 (10), 2:39Mar 10, 1986Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, New York, U.S.
18Win18-0Jesse FergusonTKO6 (10), 1:19Feb 16, 1986Houston Field House, Troy, New York, U.S.
17Win17-0Mike JamesonTKO5 (8), 0:46Jan 24, 1986Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
16Win16-0David JacoTKO1 (10), 2:16Jan 11, 1986Plaza Convention Center, Albany, New York, U.S.
15Win15-0Mark YoungTKO1 (10), 0:50Dec 27, 1985Coliseum, Latham, New York, U.S.
14Win14-0Sammy ScaffTKO1 (10), 1:19Dec 6, 1985Felt Forum, New York City, New York, U.S.
13Win13-0Conroy NelsonTKO2 (8), 0:30Nov 22, 1985Coliseum, Latham, New York, U.S.
12Win12-0Eddie RichardsonKO1 (8), 1:17Nov 13, 1985Ramada Hotel, Houston, Texas, U.S.
11Win11-0Sterling BenjaminTKO1 (8), 0:54Nov 1, 1985Coliseum, Latham, New York, U.S.
10Win10-0Robert ColayKO1 (8), 0:37Oct 25, 1985Atlantis Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
9Win9-0Donnie LongTKO1 (6), 1:28Oct 9, 1985Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
8Win8-0Michael JohnsonKO1 (6), 0:39Sep 5, 1985Atlantis Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
7Win7-0Lorenzo CanadyKO1 (6), 1:05Aug 15, 1985Resorts International, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
6Win6-0Larry SimsKO3 (6), 2:04Jul 19, 1985Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, New York, U.S.
5Win5-0John AldersonTKO2 (6), 3:00Jul 11, 1985Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
4Win4-0Ricardo SpainTKO1 (6), 0:39Jun 20, 1985Resorts International, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
3Win3-0Don HalpinKO4 (4), 1:04May 23, 1985Albany, New York, U.S.
2Win2-0Trent SingletonTKO1 (4), 0:52Apr 10, 1985Albany, New York, U.S.
1Win1-0Hector MercedesTKO1 (4), 1:47Mar 6, 1985Plaza Convention Center, Albany, New York, U.S.

 

SOURCE: dailymail.co.uk


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