32 years on, and people still talk about Mike Tyson’s electrifying KO of Trevor Berbick. As fans know, Tyson, then just 20 years of age, challenged the reigning WBC heavyweight champ on November 22, 1986. What followed that special night in Las Vegas was total and utter carnage.
The fight took place on the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (this tragic and world-changing event today 55 years old), yet it is unlikely anyone present at The Hilton Hotel in Vegas had that historical event on their mind. Could Tyson beat Berbick and become the youngest heavyweight champion of all time?
After introductions from the late Chuck Hull, the fight was no contest right from the start. Tyson came out with 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 Berbick managed to make it through the first-round. He was badly hurt on a few occasions in the opening three minutes, particularly at the very end of the round. 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, hurt and frightened.
Round two started and Tyson thrashed his way through Berbick’s offensive moves, such as they were, and landed his own bombs. Although Berbick’s chin had a pretty decent reputation, on this night 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 the 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 he was felled by one punch. Tyson’s power was truly awesome in this fight and referee Mills lane had no other option but to end the slaughter. Not since January of 1973, when George Foreman annihilated Joe Frazier, had a defending heavyweight champion been so brutally relieved of his crown.
“Iron Mike”, at the age of 20 years, four months, three weeks and a day – was the new, and youngest-ever heavyweight champion. The Tyson era had begun. Will we ever see his likes again?