Boxing

Tyson VS Berbick - "Iron Mike" At His Scariest!

17.04.06 - By James Slater: Twenty year old Mike Tyson was making his first challenge for the heavyweight title. Defending WBC champ Trevor Berbick may have been the more experienced fighter, but not too many people expected to see him hold on to his belt. Although many people erroneously claimed that Tyson would become the youngest heavyweight champion in history were he to do as anticipated and win, 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 crowd at the Las Vegas Hilton watched 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 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 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 along with the contents of his skull, had neither the capability or strength to hold him upright, and he fell again. And then yet again! Three times he was felled by the one punch! Tyson's power was truly awesome in this fight. Mills lane had no other option than to end the slaughter. Yet he had been unable to accurately administer a count - what with Berbick's yoyo impression - as soon as Mills began a count for one knockdown Trevor would fall again and another would be needed. Not since Foreman annihilated Frazier had a defending champion been so brutally relieved of his crown.

And we had a new era in heavyweight boxing. Tyson made it look so easy on this occasion. He gave his late mentor, the great Cus D'Amato a loving tribute, saying how he knew he'd be up there in heaven talking to all the great fighters, telling them how his boy had done it. Tyson spoke with genuine emotion, as one would expect. What couldn't have possibly been expected was the very strange way Trevor Berbick would be acting years after his destruction at the hands of "Iron Mike".

In his excellent book "The Long Round", writer Dominic Calder-Smith speaks with Berbick and the former champion's mental state seems to be in an absolutely bizarre state. Berbick makes some of the most outlandish claims imaginable! Firstly, he says there was no way Tyson could have beaten him in a fair fight, and that the "real boys" who control boxing knew this and therefore made him visit a doctor who then made him sick. He goes on to say that if one watches the tape of the fight - he emphasises the ORIGINAL tape- as if to imply the footage we see these days has been tampered with, we are able to see that the punch that finished him off so frighteningly actually missed his head! Berbick claims medication given to him by the doctor he was made to visit with was the real reason for his defeat Talk about a confused mental state! Clearly Berbick was hurt far more in his brutal two rounds with Tyson than was at first thought. One can only hope he is not so far gone these days , and that he can live a somewhat normal life.

As for Tyson's life after the 1986 fight, well, what episode in Mike's life do we not all know of already? The fascinating and sometimes disturbing opera of his life was played out on a very public stage as we watched him slowly but surely self destruct. These days he is known more as a somewhat tragic celebrity, more so than as a former boxer. He had many good performances in the ring after the title winning bout with Berbick, but in some ways Mike headed downhill from then on. Many fans rank him as one of the greatest heavyweights ever and he certainly has to be rated highly, but still, whenever I watch the destruction job he did on Trevor Berbick almost twenty years ago, I can't help but think Tyson wasted a lot of his potential in the years that followed. Could anyone have imagined, after seeing such a dominating performance, that a little over two years later Tyson would be struggling against the likes of Frank Bruno and then later, Buster Douglas?

I think everyone will agree, the Tyson who crushed Berbick with such ease would have done the same to the Bruno's and the Douglas' of the world!

Article posted on 17.04.2006



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