By Ken Hissner: Mike Tyson turned professional shortly after losing twice to Henry Tillman in the 1984 Olympic Trials. It wasn’t long after that he became one of the most feared boxers in heavyweight history.
Tyson won his first nineteen fights by stoppage until, in May of 1986, he defeated James “Quick” Tillis, 31-8, by decision. In his next fight, he defeated Mitch “Blood” Green, 16-1-1, by decision. Six knockout wins would follow until he got his first world title fight.
In Tyson’s twenty-eighth straight win, he won the WBC world title, stopping champion Trevor Berbick, 31-4-1, in the second round at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 22, 1986. He added the WBA title in his next fight defeating James “Bonecrusher” Smith, 19-5, by decision.
After stopping former WBC champion Pinklon “Pink” Thomas, 29-1-1, he added the IBF title defeating Tony “TNT” Tucker, 34-0. He then stopped former 1984 Olympic Gold medalist Tyrone Biggs, 20-0, making it four defenses in 1987.
Tyson would then stop two former champions in Larry “The Easton Assassin” Holmes, 48-2, and Tony “TNT” Tubbs, 24-1.
Then one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, Tyson went to Tokyo, Japan, where he had James “Buster” Douglas down in the eighth round but couldn’t finish him. Going into the tenth round, scores were 87-86, 82-88, and 86-86, dead even. In the tenth, Tyson’s world crumbled as he was dropped by Douglas. As he was on the canvas trying to put the mouthpiece back in, he was counted out. He was defeated for the first time in thirty-eight fights.
With no return clause, Tyson was back in the ring, knocking out his former Olympic Trials conqueror Henry Tillman, 20-4, in June, whom he knocked out in 2:47 of the first round. In the meantime, Douglas was scheduled to make his first defense in October, where he lost to Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield in three rounds.
For Tyson, it would be eight wins and almost seven years later before he would meet Holyfield for the title. Word was he avoided Holyfield in the amateurs.
It was November of 1996, and Tyson was well behind when he was stopped in the eleventh round by Holyfield. Seven months later, in a rematch, Tyson showed his mental breakdown after getting cut; he went crazy biting the ear of Holyfield in the third round. Referee Mills Lane, instead of disqualifying him, he went to the Nevada commissioner, asking what to do. He was told, “the fight is too big to stop!” It figured for the same commissioner would later be involved with Mixed Martial Arts.
Allowing the fight to continue, Tyson then took a piece of Holyfield’s ear off, finally being disqualified by Lane. He was now 45-3.
Two fights and over two years later, Tyson hit Orlin Norris, 50-5, after the bell ended the first round, dropping him. In the corner, Tyson was told by the referee that he was penalized two points. The trainer of Norris had the ring physician enter the ring with Norris on the stool complaining of a knee injury, ruling it a no-contest.
Two fights later in Glasgow, Scotland, Tyson stopped Lou Savarese, 39-3, 0:38 into the first round. When referee John Coyle waved it off, Tyson sucker punched Savarese from over the shoulder of Coyle. They knew each other from the amateurs in New York, and Savarese was surprised that Tyson did it.
In Tyson’s next fight, he stopped Andrew Golota, who has been in several controversial fights himself. The stoppage was ruled a no contest due to Tyson testing positive afterward for marijuana.
After going to Denmark and stopping “Super” Brian Nielson, 62-1, in October of 2001, Tyson was manhandled by Lennox “The Lion” Lewis, 39-2-1, being pushed down by Lewis, who had a point deducted in the fourth round. In the eighth round, Lewis would stop Tyson ahead on all cards 68-64.
Tyson posted his last win in his next fight knocking out Clifford “The Black Rhino” Etienne, 24-1-1, in the first round in February of 2003.
It would not be until July of 2004 when he was knocked out by Danny “The Brixton Bomber” Williams, 31-3, of the UK in 4 rounds. In his final fight, he was stopped by Ireland’s Kevin McBride, 32-4-1, after six rounds.
Tyson’s final record was 50-6 with 44 knockouts. At age 20, he was the youngest boxer to win the heavyweight title.