Was it really 30 long years ago (next Tuesday, February 11) when IT happened? Mike Tyson, so certain to win that only one official betting establishment was willing to post odds on a James Douglas win (The Mirage in Las Vegas, who had “Buster” listed as a whopping 42-1 underdog), instead saw his myth of invincibility smashed to smithereens in the tenth round of a sensational fight in Tokyo, Japan.
Where were YOU at the time, and how old were you? (I was 18, watching the fight, the following Sunday morning in the U.K, at a friend’s pub; Sky, who televised the fight, having only been around for a few months at the time).
It was a genuine, ‘everyone remembers where they were when….’ moment. How amazing it was when, inside that oddly quiet, cavernous arena in Tokyo, with no shrieks or screams to be heard as, right before the eyes of the traditionally quiet and respectful Japanese fans in attendance, the single biggest upset in not only boxing but all of sports unfolded. All these years later, and nothing comes close in terms of shock factor. No way.
Not Evander Holyfield’s upset KO win over Tyson. Not Hasim Rahman’s upset KO win over Lennox Lewis. Not last year’s stunner pulled off by Andy Ruiz in crushing Anthony Joshua. And outside of boxing, has any result stunned you to the core the way Douglas’ belting of Tyson did? I sure can’t think of anything.
Today, battling diabetes according to reports, 59 year old Douglas is in otherwise good health and he speaks, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of his great moment, how not a day goes by without some fan or another, upon spotting him in the street, comes up to talk to him about the monster upset he managed to pull off three decades ago.
Buster had to get up from a heavy knockdown to get the win, the eigth round knockdown later proving a most controversial moment: did Buster beat the ten-count? He did, the one given to him by the referee, the only official a felled fighter has to think about. But Don King sure tried his best to use the Tyson knockdown as the ultimate get-out clause. But, after initially spoiling his party, King’s efforts failed and James Douglas was the undisputed, no doubt about it, heavyweight champion of the world.
There was no rematch (Buster instead flopping against Holyfield and then disappearing and gaining a dangerous amount of weight), but Tyson did in time regain two of the belts he lost in Japan. Who knows how a return fight, between a fully fit and motivated Douglas, and an equally inspired and 100-percent ready to rumble Tyson, would have gone?
But on the one night that they did fight, Douglas proved so many millions of people wrong. In doing so, he gave us THE biggest sporting upset of all-time. Will anything ever top it?