Gone in 60-seconds! (63-seconds to be exact).
But Mike Weaver was so much more than a heavyweight who was stopped – controversially – inside a round by Michael Dokes.
It was on this day in 1982 in Las Vegas when defending WBA heavyweight champ Weaver, making the third defence of the title he had so sensationally ripped from John Tate in 1980, met a fast and skilled challenger named Michael “Dynamite” Dokes. “Hercules,” as Weaver was called due to his incredible physique, went home a very disappointed and angry man. And he had just cause to do so.
The big card was promoted by Don King and a healthy if not huge crowd settled in at Caesars Palace. Before many fans could even get comfortable in their seats the fight was over. Dokes, knowing Weaver had a quite notorious rep for starting slowly, jumped right on the defending champ. Rocking Weaver with a left hook and then decking him briefly, the 3/1 betting favorite stunned the crowd. But Weaver got up quickly and he did not appear hurt. Following the standing eight-count, Dokes blazed away but he failed to land anything of significance. Still, third man in the ring Joey Curtis dived in and stopped the fight.
Instantly, calls of “bullshit!” and “Fix!” broke out. Then, in an ugly scene, the two rival camps got into a brawl in the ring, with Weaver’s brother slinging a punch at Dokes, the new champ. It was not a good day in heavyweight history. However, in defence of Curtis, Deuk-Koo Kim had just been killed, the injuries he sustained in his losing fight with Ra Mancini causing his sad demise. This was on Curtis’ mind at the time of the Dokes-Weaver fight.
Still, Weaver was ripped off and, to make matters even worse, he was, in the opinion of many, robbed in the immediate rematch with Dokes, the following May, also in Vegas. This time the two fighters battled hard for all 15-rounds, with Dokes keeping the belt with a hugely debatable draw. There are not too many heavyweight champions who were unfairly beaten by the same guy twice. And even all these years later, Weaver is still upset by what happened to him.
As he kindly explained when speaking with this writer a while back:
“Dokes never hurt me. In fact, I was told by some friends of mine that they’d [the officials in Las Vegas] find every reason they could to stop the fight on me,” Weaver, now aged 68 but still in impressive physical shape.
“I even heard that the ref, Joey Curtis, bet on Dokes to win in the first round! I was very suspicious of Don King and everyone. I don’t think they wanted me to be champion. I never again trusted the powers that be in boxing; not after that loss and then the drawn verdict in the rematch. My heart was never really in the sport any more, even though I carried on for a long time (17 years). I was just in it for the money by then. I know I beat Dokes in the second fight, though. They robbed me and I knew I couldn’t beat the system.”
Watch the two fights again today and see if you feel either fight was truly on the level.
Dokes was badly beaten and stopped in his next fight, losing the belt to Gerrie Coetzee. Dokes passed away from liver cancer in 2012, at the age of just 54.