Where does time go?
I did not realize it until it was mentioned on ESPN this morning, but today–last night, actually, in the United States–marked the 25th anniversary of the most stunning upset in the history of professional boxing.
I’m talking about the World Heavyweight Championship fight in Tokyo between the seemingly invincible Mike Tyson and the journeyman James “Buster” Douglas, who had even less of a chance against Tyson than some of Iron Mike’s previous foes, which included much more accomplished boxers like Michael Spinks, Larry Holmes and Tony Tubbs.
Most were expecting the bout against Douglas to be a warm up before Tyson faced Evander Holyfield, who had risen to next in line to challenge for the title after Douglas. Many, in fact, predicted that Tyson not only would win by a first round knockout, but Douglas would go down faster than the 91 seconds it took Tyson to knock out Spinks in June 1988.
Douglas survived the first round. And the second. In fact, he was standing toe-to-toe with the so-called “Baddest Man on the Planet”, even though he was behind on the three judges’ scorecards.
In the eighth round, it appeared Douglas’ dream was going to die.
Tyson landed a hard right to the jaw and Douglas went down. Buster looked like he was busted. Bring on Holyfield.
Douglas was on the canvas and appeared to still be down after 10 seconds, but the count of Mexican referee Octavio Meryan had only reached nine. Douglas was still alive. Barely, but alive.
Tyson came out in the ninth round looking for the quick knockout. Instead, the bout’s tide turned 180 degrees towards Douglas, who began to devastate Iron Mike with right after right. Tyson did not go down, but he was backed into the ropes and found himself staggering when the bell sounded.
In the tenth round, Douglas continued to attack. He landed a hard uppercut to Tyson’s chin and followed with four straight right hands to Tyson’s head.
Down went Iron Mike.
Tyson was being counted down by Meryan, but it took him until three or four before he realized he was about to lose his championship.
Tyson used the ropes as leverage in his attempt to get up, but it was too late. Meryan counted 10 and called for the bell.
James “Buster” Douglas. Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Douglas liked being champion so much he forgot the hard work and sacrifice it took to get him there.
Two weeks after winning the championship, he was the guest referee in a World Wrestling Federation championship match between Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho King” Savage. He would continue to make the rounds on the celebrity circuit, all the while watching his weight balloon to over 250 pounds.
By time the Douglas-Holyfield fight arrived on October 25, Douglas still weighed 246 1/2 pounds, 38 1/2 more than Holyfield. To the surprise of nobody, save for those related to Douglas and his handlers, Holyfield won by third round knockout.
Maybe it was as good thing Tyson lost to Douglas, given the way “The Real Deal” took apart Iron Mike in their two bouts in 1996 and 1997, the latter of which ended when Tyson bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear.