Imagine Boxing Blogs

The Shock of the Century

The night the buster defeated the iron...

Posted Sep 29, 2010 by Shaun Edwards

Iron Mike was floored by the Buster

February 10th, 1990. The Tokyo Dome, Japan.  ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson is fumbling around the mat, searching for his mouthpiece as the referee reaches the ten count.  The bell rings.  The boxing world is shocked.  Mike Tyson has lost the world championship to James ‘Buster’ Douglas.

No-one, repeat no-one, can believe what they’re seeing.

It was supposed to be a formality: Mike Tyson, then 37-0-0 in boxing, was supposed to dismantle Buster Douglas, a journeyman boxer who was simply gifted a title match due to a lucky run of form, so that Tyson could then go on to fight Evander Holyfield in the bout the boxing world was really waiting for.

Unfortunately for Tyson, no-one had told Buster Douglas about the schedule.  Having lost his mother 23 days before the fight, and with his own son’s mother struggling with potential kidney failure, Douglas arrived at the Tokyo dome with an extra-ordinary level of intensity and preparation that Tyson simply did not have an answer to.

Very much used to being the aggressor in any situation, Tyson suddenly found himself on the defensive, with Douglas’s right crosses leading to Tyson’s eye swelling up, and the champion’s corner team having to improvise an endswell from a rubber glove and ice water. 

There was a brief moment of hope for the world champion’s team as Tyson briefly floored the challenger with a right hand in the 8th round, but Douglas rose up on the nine count.  Later on, Tyson’s promoter Don King would end up disputing that the count had been long, and that Tyson should have won the fight at that point.  However, the fight continued.

In the tenth round, followed by a huge uppercut and four more punches, Tyson was floored for the first time in his professional career.  It’s hard to describe the impact that the shots of Tyson fumbling for his lost mouth guard had on the world of boxing.  Until that point in time the aggressive, dangerous ‘Iron’ had seemed virtually unbeatable.  His punch had been compared by previous opponents as like being ‘hit by a train.’  In the end, though, a journeyman with incomparably inspiration had knocked him down and taken his title.

The sporting world generates a fair few shocks, but it’s hard to think of one that carried such impact as this.  Tyson’s reputation was never quite the same again.

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