On This Day In 1988: Mike Tyson KO’d The Hitherto Unstopped Larry Holmes – does this mean Tyson would also have taken out Foreman?


At the time of his rendering an ageing Larry Holmes unconscious, in disturbing fashion, not too many fans, experts or historians took too much notice of the Mike Tyson KO win; certainly the reigning heavyweight champ was given little praise or credit for taking out the 38 year old who had himself ruled the division from 1978 to 1985. Back then, with Tyson being “invincible” and “unstoppable,” many people poured derision on the “unnecessary” Tyson/Holmes fight of 1988.

But all these years later, when taking a good look back, maybe, just maybe, Tyson’s fourth-round demolition job deserves far more credit than it got then. As well as a consideration over what the peak, 22 year old Tyson might have done to another former heavyweight champ who had always shown nothing but a granite chin, head, jaw, skull: Mr. George Edward Foreman.

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Holmes, who is today rightfully recognised as one of the top-five greatest heavyweights of all-time (if not top-three), met a true murder’s row of monster punchers throughout his long career, or careers: including (peak Larry) Earnie Shavers (twice), Gerry Cooney, Tim Witherspoon (an underrated banger), Mike Weaver (who Holmes also met as an “old man”) and Bonecrusher Smith (who Larry also fought a second time while on the Senior’s Tour), as well as (ageing Larry), Ray Mercer and Oliver McCall. Not one of these fighters managed to do what Tyson did 31 years ago today – flatten, take out, destroy Holmes.

Okay, Larry was overweight at the time of the comeback fight he had been talked into by Don King and the promise of a whole lot of $dollars, and he was rusty, having not fought since his second debatable decision loss to another Mike, this one preferring to be called Michael, as in Spinks, in 1986. But still, Tyson dented that great chin, he obliterated those seemingly supernatural recuperative powers, and he did it in less than 12 minutes.

All these years later, fans still wonder what would have happened had Tyson fought Foreman, in, say, 1990 or 1991, or maybe even 1994. Foreman, like Holmes, met some genuine punchers during his own career, or careers: including (peak George) Joe Frazier and Ron Lyle, as well as (ageing George), Alex Stewart, Gerry Cooney, Michael Moorer, Tommy Morrison and (arguably) Shannon Briggs. None of these guys managed to take out George. But would a peak Tyson have done so?

Imagine if you can, that you had never seen Holmes get knocked out. It would today be almost impossible to imagine him ever being KO’d. But it happened, when he met the right blend of speed, power and non-stop aggressive tendencies, these belonging to the rampaging Tyson. Today, it’s virtually impossible to imagine Foreman being knocked out flat (forget the Ali loss, that was exhaustion/lack of stamina and anyway, Foreman was not out cold). But what if he’d ran into Tyson?

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George would not, at the time he might have faced Tyson, have been as rusty as Holmes had been when he was whacked out, but no way would Foreman have been any faster than Homes was. Again, we can’t really picture it, but Tyson’s blend of violent skill and power might well have been too much for Foreman. Lesser punchers wobbled George during his amazing comeback (Holyfield, Ken Lakusta – yes, Ken Lakusta, and, briefly, Cooney) and maybe Tyson’s lethal left, his brutal right, or the combination of both would have done the job.

There’s a reason this mega-millions fight never happened: either Tyson didn’t want it or Foreman didn’t want it.

What do you guys think?