New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson (Boxing. Born, Brooklyn, NY, June 30, 1966.)  Fury unleashed burst into the ring on Mar. 6, 1985 when heavyweight Mike Tyson made his professional debut against Hector Mercedes in Albany, N.Y. At the opening bell, Tyson raced from his corner to launch an attack so vicious that the older, more experienced Mercedes had to be carried from the ring by the end of the round.  This was the first of Tyson’s nineteen consecutive knockouts.  Writers were soon comparing the young fighter to the great KO artists of past eras, particularly Rocky Marciano and Joe Frazier.  Like those two former heavyweight champions, Tyson could dispatch an opponent with either hand.  But that is where the similarity ended. Frazier and Marciano were both plodding fighters, willing to absorb punishment as they worked inside to deliver their own lethal punches.  But, with the help of veteran trainer Cus D’Amato, Tyson developed an elusive, bobbing-weaving style that made him surprisingly difficult to hit.  Tyson quickly transformed the heavyweight division into a shambles. On Nov. 26, 1986, only twenty months after his pro debut, he knocked out Trevor Berbick in the second round to win the World Boxing Council heavyweight crown. Barely 20, he was the youngest man to ever hold the title.  Over the next year, Tyson would become the undisputed king of the heavies by winning a pair of 12-round decisions over WBA titleholder Bonecrusher Smith (Mar. 7, 1987) and International Boxing Federation champion Tony Tucker (August 1, 1987).  By 1990, Tyson was 37-0 with an astonishing 33 knockouts. The champion appeared to be unbeatable when he entered a Tokyo ring on Feb. 11, 1990, to fight the relatively unknown James “Buster” Douglas. Las Vegas bookmakers had listed Tyson as a 45-1 favorite on the afternoon of the fight. But Douglas gave Tyson a fearsome boxing lesson, beating him to the punch repeatedly. In the 10th round, Douglas’s crushing overhand right put down Tyson for the count.  Tyson recovered from that loss with four straight wins to reestablish himself as a top heavyweight challenger. In 1991,  he was about to sign for another title fight when an Indiana rape conviction sent him to prison for 3½ years. Tyson resumed his career shortly after his release and soon won back both the W.B.C. and W.B.A. titles. However, on Nov. 9, 1996, Evander Holyfield, a 27-1 underdog, made Tyson a former champion once again with an 11th round TKO. After that defeat, Tyson remained a contender but his two efforts to regain the heavyweight throne failed. – R.L.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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