Revisting Boxings Biggest Upset: Tyson vs Douglas
Getty Images/Getty Images
Hello fight fans!!!!!!! Lets go back.. way back.....for this "oldie but goodie"....
Some dates just stick with you.
For me, it was Dec 7th, 1941. 1865. OJ. The World Wars. Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War. My High School and College graduations. March Madness. Super Sunday. The World Series. NBA playoffs. The Olympics. Traveling abroad. The day Gerald McClellan "died" and Roy Jones got ripped off at the Olympics. "Down goes Frazier, Down goes Frazier, Down goes Frazier!!!". "Do you believe in miracles??? YES!!!". The 1972 Gold Medal game between the USA and Soviet Union (thanks Bill Walton). The first and many days of boot camp. Breaking up with my many girlfriends. My first catch, ballgame with my Dad. The good days, the bad ones. 1980(my Phillies and Eagles going for a championship). Holidays. Birthday's, wedding anniversary, a death of a loved one.
What about the death of a career, legend, and myth, all in one day?
The Man Who Would Be Champ
the man who would defeat Iron Mike
Ken Levine/Getty Images
Recently, I was re-watching HBO's fight series "Legendary Nights," (a must watch for any boxing fan.) and this fight was highlighted. "A shocking fight in Japan." The biggest upset in boxing history, arguably in the history of sports.
And I could have been there, LIVE.
February 11th, 1990, was such a day. I was in Japan as a dependent as my father was stationed at Camp Zama. Mike Tyson vs James "Buster" Douglas at the Tokyo Dome. Funny thing was, I could have gone to this fight. Our MWR/USO had a bus going down there, plus FREE tickets.
But no. This was going to be a one-round blowout right? The only Vegas hotel that had odds on it was the Mirage at 42-1 (booked by Jimmy Vaccaro). It was supposed to be that much of a mismatch. However, no one told Douglas that.
Ready to Make History
Tony Duffy/Getty Images
Buster Douglas was a journeyman, who had had wins over Greg Page, Tex Cobb, Oliver McCall, Trevor Berbick and Mike Williams. He had lost to Jesse Ferguson and was on his way to winning before being stopped by Tony Tucker in a IBF title bid.
He had just lost his mother. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain. So February, 11th, was just another day for everyone. Or so we thought.
Menacing, Until You Stood Up to Him
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Believe it or not, I loved Mike Tyson back then. I was a "Tysonite" to say the least. The black trunks, no socks, the white towel. He beat people in the ring before getting in the ring. Psychologically, his opponent was beaten before the first bell.
Tyson was a menace. The triple combinations, hard right, the knockouts. The head movement, bobbing and weaving. The lefts, rights, bodywork. Amazing to say the least.
I enjoyed the Tyson truck commercials with Toyota trucks. The Tyson drink commercials. These played in Japan. Tyson was a marketing tool before his troubles began, when I think he got rid of everyone and associated himself with Don King.
Like Teddy Atlas says: "Tyson was a meteor." Bright, but over too quickly. On this night Buster Douglas stood up to the Bully and beat him.
Al Bello/Getty Images
Douglas was magical, at least for this night.
I think he could have gave anyone a good fight. The way he boxed Mike Tyson that night was amazing. Inspired by his mother, he fought the fight of his life. Sure the long count in the 8th round was disturbing (I counted to 15), but Douglas got up, shook it off and went on to history.
The image of Tyson crawling on the floor, looking for his mouthpiece was ironic. I think he was looking for his life, his career.
A Troubled Man
Bob Martin/Getty Images
The phone rang.
It was my boy, calling me to say Mike Tyson had lost. I said "no, no way!!!". But it was true. The unthinkable had happened. Tyson had lost, been stopped!!!!!
His granite chin was dented. He was a beaten man. His corner was pathetic. Using a condom for enswell? They too thought this would would be a cakewalk. Aaron Snowell's corner work was questionable to say the least.
I remember when he looked like a fool in Tim Austin's corner as he yelled at Rafael Marquez. The next round Austin was toast.
Not Ready for Primetime
Holly Stein/Getty Images
There would be no rematch.
Tyson would go on to lose to Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis among others before retiring. Douglas didn't fight for six years after getting embarrassed by Evander Holyfield (he was eating at all the fast food joints, appeared on late night TV and WWF and layed down, as his body jiggled like jello. At the pre fight weigh in, after seeing him, the writers rushed to the windows to bet Holyfield!).
His comeback was short lived. He is trying for an entertainment career now. "The Buster Douglas" of the 2000's was Haseem Rahman after losing to Lennox Lewis.
Bored with Boxing or Life?
Holly Stein/Getty Images
I often watch this tape.
I close my eyes and think about how great he really was. Or was he? He fought a lot of bums, tomato cans, woulda-beens, coulda-beens and never was's. Over the hills, too green. He won fights before hand. By intimidation and fear. I think to myself, how in the world could a fighter who everyone thought was the greatest ever lose to a bum, a tomato can?
I hear the excuses. He wasn't prepared, not enough training, too much training. Personal and personnel problems. Bull. Tyson was in his prime. I do believe Douglas' mom had a lot to do with this, but Douglas stood up to Tyson.
The fight was over. He jabbed and doubled up with wicked combos. Held when he had to. A great fight plan.
The Champ, Recently
People have accused me of hating Mike Tyson. I don't.
How can you hate someone when you don't even know him. I don't hate anyone. I may dislike a few people, but that's about it. I hate what could have been with Mike. He could have been the greatest, had he just stuck with his team (firing Atlas was the worst mistake, as Tyson needed discipline, not babying that Cus gave him. I didn't agree with the "gun incident," but...), and not involve himself with Don King.
He could have minded his own business, not met up with Robins Givens and Ruth Roper. If he could have kept his "nose clean." The plan was gym-home-fight-gym-home-fight. This all changed when Cus D'Amato, then Jimmy Jacobs, died.
Woulda, shoulda, coulda. That's the story of life, I guess. Zigging instead of zagging, taking the wrong road, perhaps the one with the least resistance. That's what makes us human, I guess.
A Young Future Champion
a young future champion
David Cannon/Getty Images
I met Tyson at the Tszyu-Zab Judah fight. I was backstage and approached him while he was walking back to the locker room following the stoppage. He was with his entourage. He was short, stout like a pit bull. I extended my hand, and with a scowl, he shook it.
I had touched history in a sense. The only question that bothers me is what could have been. That's all. I don't wish bad luck on my worst enemy, much less Mike Tyson. But he is going down that road. I still think it will end badly for Mike, like his hero, Sonny Liston.
We as fans are selfish. We like to see two guys beat the hell out of each other (Ward-Gatti), but will we be there when they are sucking their soup out of a straw? Of course not. Reminds me of Jerry and Mike Quarry, who were too brave for their own good. Who had "too good of a chin."
The same Evander Holyfield who is headed down that road. Ali. Greg Page. Gerald McClellan. Roy Jones Jr. Makes me hate boxing when I think of these men. Some were avoidable. It definitely is a love-hate relationship I have with the sweet science.
That's it fight fans! Keep your hands up and keep punching for the stars!!
Ron Champ Miller