So, where were you when it happened?
It was, as surely all fight fans who were old enough to have been aware of the fight at the time know, 34 years ago today when massive, 42/1 underdog James “Buster” Douglas shocked the entire world by knocking out a seemingly invincible “Iron” Mike Tyson. The fight – one that was looked at as Tyson’s last, insignificant hurdle before an upcoming June date with the man most felt was closer than anyone as far as being able to severely test the reigning, undisputed heavyweight king, this being Evander Holyfield – took place in Tokyo, Japan.
And in truth, not too many people were excited about the fight. How could anyone have been expecting too much? Tyson was 37-0(33), and at age 23 he was at his terrifying peak. Douglas, in a previous shot at a version of the heavyweight crown, had capitulated when tired, this against common foe Tony Tucker, a man Tyson had won a wide decision over in 1987. Worse still, as far as “Buster’s” chances were regarded, the man from Ohio had a tendency to be lazy in the gym, with him often showing up out of shape. Oh, and Douglas was not a noted banger.
No wonder most people expected another quick KO from Tyson.
But Douglas, inspired by the painful loss of his mother, had whipped himself into superb physical condition, and, his mind ready for war, the 29-year-old with the 29-4-1(19) record was not ready to do any lying down. His world turned upside down due to the passing of his mother, Douglas was ready, and, for perhaps one night only, able to turn Tyson’s world upside down.
And, as we watched the fight (on the still-new Sky Sports here in the UK, which is where I watched it, the fight replayed early the following Sunday morning), our collective mouths dropped further and further, bit by bit. Douglas, fast, mobile, possessing a fine jab, was taking the fight right to Tyson. And Buster was winning the rounds (or so we thought, the later revelation of the official scorecards causing just one of many controversies). Tyson, who looked in shape body-wise, his muscles bulging as per, was soon taking some hefty shots that were, unbelievably, snapping his head back. And then Tyson’s eye swelled shut. Was the astonishing upset nobody had any right to suggest they saw coming actually, well, coming?
Tyson, who showed heart in shipping blows, came back in round eight, his wicked right uppercut to the chin downing his tormentor. But Douglas got up in time (just about, the sequence of Douglas’s knockdown and his getting back up before the count of ten, or of him not doing so, proving to be THE talking point after the fight). And then the bell rang.
Douglas went back to beating up Tyson in the ninth, and then, with so many fans in a state of utter disbelief, this as the Tokyo Dome remained so eerily silent, Douglas smashed Tyson with a thunderous uppercut followed by four accurate blows that all detonated on Tyson’s head. Tyson went down, he began trying to relocate his mouthpiece in his dizzied state, and then, as Tyson at last wobbled to his feet, the referee, who the beaten fighter was almost being held upright by, counted Mike out.
It was stunning. It was all we could think about and talk about for days. And then came the controversy of the so-called ‘long count,’ and whether or not Tyson had actually KO’d Douglas in that eighth round. In the end, sanity prevailed and Buster was accepted by all as the new king.
Thirty-four years on, it’s still an experience watching the fight. Not only was it a momentous upset, perhaps the biggest the sport will ever see. But Douglas Vs. Tyson was also a great action fight, with more than a few twists and turns.
So, where did You witness this, a genuine ‘where were you moment?’ Douglas KO Tyson was for sure an event in history where everyone who saw it can recall today exactly where they were when it happened.