Thirty long years ago today, a peak, or near-peak “Iron” Mike Tyson retained his heavyweight titles with a quite ruthless, nasty display of utter dominance. Tyson met a fighter he disliked in Tyrell Biggs and what was seen by some as a possible test for Tyson turned out to be something of a massacre.
Though Biggs, then unbeaten and having captured attention due to his winning of the 1984 Olympic gold medal up at super-heavyweight, had a decent opening round in which he used his height, his speed and his educated left jab to good effect, Biggs was doomed as soon as he signed the contract. Tyson disliked his 15-0 challenger – so jealous was he of him due to his own failure to make the team for Los Angeles in ’84 – and how it showed.
Tyson, so fast, so powerful, not to mention so supremely conditioned, was all but on a different planet to the fragile-skinned challenger. Way too strong, way too dangerous a puncher with either hand and also possessing an excellent, often underrated defence, the champion later admitted he could have taken Biggs out in the 3rd-round. Instead, however, “Kid Dynamite” wanted to inflict as much pain and suffering on Biggs as he could.
Showing heart once again as a pro, Biggs (even then having had to overcome difficulties with drugs) took his lumps without complaint. Soon badly marked up and cut around his left eye and inside his mouth, the 26-year-old from Philly was a pitiful sight. And though there was no quit in the fighter who had once won a fight having suffered a broken collarbone earlier in the bout, there was no way on earth Biggs was going to last the distance, much less actually beat Tyson. Before going out for what turned out to be the final round, Biggs’ corner-men, Lou Duva and George Benton, did their best to spur their fighter on to victory – Duva even coming out with the faintly ridiculous cry of, “Come on, this guy’s gone! You’re a better fighter than him.” But it was to no avail.
And finally, after what must have been an agonising time for Tyrell, his friends and his family, Tyson put him down with a cracking left hook to the head in round-seven. Almost knocked through the ropes and in terrible shape, Biggs somehow got back up and tried to fight on, his face a mask of blood and pain. More bombs were rapidly thrown by the champion, including one final left hand to the head. As Biggs crashed for a second time, referee Tony Orlando neglected to bother with a count; the ending coming at one second short of the end of the 7th-round.
After the fight, whilst being interviewed, Tyson made his now infamous, “Biggs was crying in there,” quote – with Mike claiming he could hear Biggs making “women gestures” when he hit him to the body. As great a fighter as he was, even back then Tyson could be relied upon to come out with the odd tasteless remark or three. Biggs deserved better from the invincible looking champion.
Many people had said before the fight that Biggs’ managerial team of Lou Duva, etc, had rushed Biggs into the Tyson fight because of the amount of scar tissue Tyrell had around his eyes – tissue that would surely open up in a lesser fight and cause their investment to lose for a whole lot less money than what a world title fight would bring. Maybe this is the truth, maybe not.
In any case, even if he had waited a few months or so, Biggs was no match for the rampaging 1987 or ’88 version of Tyson. When we look back on this fight, we are reminded how some fights, ones that are expected to be evenly fought, turn out to instead be utterly one-sided. Will a certain heavyweight title unification batte that is expected to take place in the near future, one that is anticipated as a great one, turn out to be as one-sided as Tyson’s cruel demolition of the ultra-game Biggs?