25 Years Ago Today: Mike Tyson Destroys Trevor Berbick, Makes History

By James Slater: A quarter of a century ago today, on the 23rd anniversary of the tragic assassination of President John. F Kennedy, heavyweight sensation Mile Tyson put his own name into the history books. “Kid Dynamite,” as the 20-year-old was known back in 1986, was a 27-0(25) contender, WBC ruler Berbick was an experienced 32-year-old with a 31-4-1(23) pro ledger.

What followed was a complete mismatch.

Although many people erroneously claimed that Tyson would become the youngest heavyweight champion in history were he to do as anticipated and win inside The Las Vegas Hilton, in fact he would become the youngest ever holder of the WBC heavyweight title - Floyd Patterson’s record for being the youngest ever WORLD champ at heavyweight while aged twenty-one would remain intact whatever happened on the night of November 22nd 1986. Maybe Tyson would go on to claim linear honours before reaching the age Floyd had been when he’d done so, but time alone would tell us this. Still, even winning a portion of the heavyweight title while only a few months out of his teen years would be an incredible achievement for “Iron Mike”. The huge live crowd, as well as the home T.V audience watching around the world, sat back with keen anticipation to see if he could do so.

Before the fight there had been some minor controversy regarding the apparel the boxers would wear into the ring. Tyson, as had been his custom wanted to wear black. Unfortunately Berbick, who had the right to chose as champion, wanted to do the same. Tyson chose to accept a fine rather than change his colors. If, however, Trevor had hoped to unsettle the young contender with such mind games, he was to be badly disappointed.

The introductions, given by the late, great Chuck Hull, reverberated around the arena and then battle commenced. The fight was no contest right from the start. Tyson came out with fearsome ferocity while Berbick fought as though he was a fighter who was only a few bouts removed from the amateurs. What was actually surprising was the fact that Trevor managed to make it through the very first round. He was badly hurt on a few occasions in the opening three minutes, particularly at the very end of the round when he was badly shaken. He stuck out his chin as the bell rang in an attempt to show defiance, but one could see in his eyes what his real emotions were - he was utterly bewildered! Round two started and we were about to witness an ending to a boxing contest that was utterly frightening.

Tyson thrashed his way through Berbick’s offensive moves, such as they were, and landed his own hydrogen bombs. Although Berbick’s chin had a pretty decent reputation, tonight it had no chance! He was soon put down and although he bounced back up immediately it was clear to everyone the end of the fight was imminent. Tyson then landed an inside uppercut to Trevor’s jaw followed by a blurring left to the temple and, in a delayed reaction, the soon to be former WBC champion crashed again. He attempted to rise but his legs, having been reduced to jelly, had neither the capability nor the strength to hold him upright, and he fell again. And then yet again! Three times in all, Berbick was felled by the one punch! Tyson’s power was truly awesome. Mills Lane had no other option than to end the slaughter; what with Berbick’s yoyo impression. Not since George Foreman annihilated the late Joe Frazier in 1973 had a defending heavyweight champion been so brutally relieved of his crown.

A lot has happened since that electrifying night of heavyweight carnage. Berbick was murdered by a relative who claimed the boxer-turned preacher owed him money - the cowardly youngster opting to put a machete into the back of Trevor’s head in October of 2006. Berbick was just 52-years-old.

As for Tyson, he went on to become one of the greatest, most controversial, heavyweight champions in history. The unforgettable rollercoaster of a ride Tyson gave fight fans in the years after the Berbick triumph could easily provide a number of screenwriters with enough material for five or six movies. In short, we will never see anyone quite like Tyson again - for good or for bad.

Tyson went on from that Vegas night in 1986 and beat a number of good fighters; his June 1988 one-round taking out of the previously unbeaten Michael Spinks generally being regarded as his peak performance. In many ways, however, Tyson’s most memorable win, his most terrifying win, was scored a quarter of a century ago today.

Article posted on 22.11.2011

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