James ‘Buster’ Douglas speaks on the time he created history
By Mehmood Ahmad: Thirty years on from the fight, being a huge Iron Mike Tyson fan, I still always scroll down as quickly as I can on Facebook whenever I notice that clip of Mike getting KO’d by ‘Buster’ appearing, mainly to avoid seeing those awful few seconds of Mike fumbling around for his gum shield.
It still somehow saddens me now I’m afraid. However, time does eventually move on, and even I have to admit, as Douglas proceeded to recall how the fight week played out on this interview, I was surprised to find a little smile appearing on my face as I listened.
“Once, twice a week people mention the fight to me,” Douglas told IFLTV in an interview recently, following the clip Tyson released of him smashing some poor guys mitts as a 53-year-old man. “I remember everything…training…I remember it all very well”.
Douglas let out a burst of laughter as he recalls the pre-fight build-up.
“That was funny. We had individual press conferences in Tokyo; we were second, Tyson did his first when I came in to do mine the room was in disarray, tables and chairs were turned over, there were only 6 or 7 reporters there on the front row, behind them the room was in disarray, it looked like we were coming in there to clean up! It was as if we were the clean-up crew or something”.
“The reporters that were there were asking me really basic questions, like what color trunks I was going to be wearing? How is it here in Tokyo? Nothing really about the fight itself, the strategy, or anything. Basically, it was like they just wanted to know how to identify the body (at the end of the fight) by checking what color shorts or shoes I would be wearing, it was hilarious.”
When questioned on whether he was given any chance by the media to win the fight Douglas nonchalantly replies, “Not at all, the whole time I was in there in Tokyo it was his (Tyson) show, they were just making sure I turned up to the press conferences or open gym workouts.”
Thoughtfully and giving an insight into his personality, he continued, “It could have been really disheartening if you were into that type of stuff, but it was very encouraging for me cause I felt like it was just how I thought it was going to be, total disrespect.”
Moving on into the fight itself and specifically reflecting on round 8, Douglas’ inner confidence peaked as he battled his way into the bout, ignoring the complete disregard of even his existence in the fight. Watching a video of that round today, the first thing you notice is the eerie silence of the crowd. You can clearly hear the instructions being shouted by Douglas’ corner. The commentators, almost in disbelief, relay how Mike has been neutralized and frustrated.
Douglas lands two solid jabs, powering in right hooks and uppercuts as Tyson appears hurt, just before Tyson amazingly cripples Douglas with one of those time-stopping crunching uppercuts putting him down for the count with just seconds of the round to go. Commentators question whether Mike was baiting him in as they thought Mike was hurt. Douglas has his own ideas, though.
“In my head, I was like, what you think about me now, sucker? That’s when I got caught with that shot. I wanted to let him know that I was in his butt. He showed me by catching me with that shot; he showed me he was still alive, still in there trying to get me. When I came home, the first thing my Dad said was you got confident in that 8th round. He was right; I got overconfident and forgot about my mission of wanting to kick his butt, wanting to reflect on the fight in the middle of the round”.
Controversy has reigned over the length of the count Douglas got; for me, he gets up just as the count reaches that moment just after nine but before 10. The bell had already gone for the end of the round, and just as it happens so often in boxing, Douglas had that life-changing sixty seconds to recover.
Tyson came out strong at the start of the 9th and wobbled Douglas again in the first minute, but Douglas somehow fired back, they both looked weary, Douglas no doubt trained hard showing great recovery powers to get through. The Stoney silence engulfed the crowd again as with just over a minute to go of the 9th, it feels like the beginning of the end for Tyson. You can hear murmurs in the crowd as he is wobbled, one eye completely closed and pushed back to the ropes, unbelievable heart, and guts shown by him too with his chin and ability to take shots sometimes underrated possibly due to his freakish power.
Douglas goes on to recall the 10th round where he clinically knocks Tyson down, and the moment he realized he wasn’t going to make the count. “A childhood dream come true. I thought he was going to get back up until I saw him scrambling around for that mouthpiece, I knew he wasn’t coherent. Cause if he would have got straight up, the referee would have picked up the mouthpiece and got it rinsed down before letting him continue to fight. But I knew by him looking around for that mouthpiece he was actually hurt, he wasn’t coherent.”
Douglas had not forgotten his treatment by the media in the build-up to the fight in the pandemonium that then ensued. “Basically I couldn’t care less cause I had just did it. Of course, they (media) wanted to talk to me; the controversy started right after the fight, it really was an enjoyable moment until I got out of the ring and went back to the hotel. That’s when they told me there was going to be a hell of a press conference about this alleged long count. The nightmare started”.
It seems strange for such a glorious time to be described as a “nightmare,” but unfortunately, that’s how the sport can sometimes be.
Back to the present and the recent video of Tyson training, Douglas perfectly describes it as a “very positive message. He looks good, shows he still got it, not still in the game…but still in the fight”.
In today’s heavyweight scene, he describes it as changing “…day today. We still need someone to show some dominance. Sometimes Joshua seems to have the edge. Odds change between the top three of Joshua, Fury, and Wilder, but I’d say Fury is the number one right now. He beat the man Wilder…Not really shocked by the way Fury won, I was there in LA at the first fight, and it looked like Fury was doing the same than before he got caught at the end.”
“It’s a toss-up between Joshua and Fury. Hell of a fight. Wilder has the biggest challenge out of the three as he’s coming back after a major loss, how good can he recover? The two best are Joshua and Fury”.
When asked how he felt when people compared the Joshua defeat to Ruiz as big a shock as his win over Tyson, Douglas replied simply, “It’s flattering to be even considered after all these years as still to be having an impact on the heavyweight division.”
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