Albany, New York – Wednesday, March 6, 1985.
A young heavyweight guided by a wise old trainer known as Cus D’Amato, partially retired and forgotten, begins his journey on the road to boxing notoriety; to immortality. Michael Gerard Tyson, known as Mike, faces Hector Mercedes, 0-3, in a scheduled four-rounder.
After just 1-minute and :47 seconds of action, Tyson walks away, having scored the first of many, many first-round KO’s. Aged just 18, the future “Iron Mike,” AKA: “The Baddest Man on The Planet,” will go on to fight at a hectic pace. Next in action on April 10 of that year, Tyson would fight every month, sometimes twice a month, as he, A: was kept away from out of the ring distractions and out of trouble, and B: as he picked up as much knowledge and experience as possible.
14 times in all Tyson would box in 1985, winning all 14 bouts by KO, only four of them going beyond the opening round; the longest of these fights being a fourth-round KO, of Don Halpin. The quality of opposition was far from great (and if Tyson was going through his initial year as a pro today, with utter scrutiny and each and every person with internet access having the ability to criticise and judge being the order of things, chances are Tyson would have received plenty of flak for facing “stiffs” or “bums,” fighters he wasn’t going to learn anything from) but the journey to the world title had begun.
And, without a single hitch, with Tyson’s quality of opposition rising steadily in 1986 (good fights with the likes of James Tillis, Jesse Ferguson and Jose Ribalta), the game-plan proved perfect. Tyson, at just 27-0, having boxed just 74 pro rounds of boxing, ripped the WBC crown from defending champ Trevor Berbick in November of 1986.
An astonishingly fast progression from facing a fighter with a losing record to making history. Indeed, will Tyson’s world record of becoming the youngest-ever world heavyweight champion – at 20 years and five months – ever be broken? It sure seems doubtful.