On This Day: When Tyson Smashed Berbick And Became WBC Heavyweight Champ

By James Slater - 11/22/2023 - Comments

It’s possible that Mike Tyson reached his peak, in terms of him being an unstoppable force of destruction, an unstoppable, almost unhittable punching machine, when he first won a world title. Tyson, at age 20, was a true force of nature when he obliterated the experienced Trevor Berbick, in so doing becoming the youngest-ever WBC heavyweight champion, this on this day back in 1986.

For though Tyson was really only getting into the full swing of things in terms of him fulfilling the enormous, Cus D’Amato-predicted, indeed, ordained greatness that lay ahead of him when he relieved Berbick of both his senses and his title, it is possible that Tyson fans immediately think of “Iron Mike’s” annihilation of Berbick whenever his name is mentioned. Indeed, the monster display of accurate, lethal punching ability Tyson showed 37 years ago today still resonates with all fight fans, hardcore and casual alike.

Tyson unleashed all he had been taught, this with a ferocious desire to showcase every inch of his wholly unexpected ability to become the next boxing great. Against Berbick, Tyson came as close as any heavyweight title challenger has ever come as far as almost killing the defending champion who was in the ring with him.

In short, Tyson’s X-rated wiping out of Berbick, inside the Las Vegas Hilton, was disturbing. The sight of a young kid, scarcely out of his teens, destroying and humiliating a man who was 32 years of age, was something that changed the sporting world. Yes, Tyson would go on to fight greater fights, with “Kid Dynamite” showcasing finer skills and more matured ability. But the Tyson coronation might just have been Mike’s finest hour.

Take the Tyson of November 22 of 1986 into a ring with any heavyweight champion in history, and it is possible they would have had their hands seriously full in attempting to either extinguish, or to even match, Tyson’s ferocious blend of speed, power, and defensive skill.

For, as much as we all remember Tyson’s sizzling punching power, it must never be forgotten how hard the peak (or yet to reach his peak, the opinion is yours) Tyson was to hit with one shot, let alone a combination. Did Berbick land a single blow on Tyson?

Nobody is saying any version of Tyson would have beaten an Ali, a Frazier, a Foreman, a Louis, a Marciano, a Dempsey. But no reasonable fight fan could ever say that any of these immortals would have had anything like an easy or a safe time with the 20, 21, or 22 year old Tyson.

On this day back in ’86, the world of boxing saw something truly special. Tyson’s lethal blend of speed and concussive power left a darn fine fighter in a pathetic state, unable to stand even after he had made no less than three attempts to do so, this after being blitzed by a laser-like shot to the brain in round two.

Tyson’s peak was short and sweet, but it was ever so memorable.

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