Legendary heavyweights Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes took part in a sit down chat this week to talk over their careers ahead of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights at the Turning Stone.
In 1988, Tyson, 21, stopped Holmes, 38, in the fourth round in Atlantic City for the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles and pair discussed how the fight originally came about.
“What I remember was Don King knocking at my door around 9 at night,” explained Holmes.
“I was retired two years. Don said he wanted me to fight somebody he said he knew I could beat. I asked him who and he said, Mike Tyson. I said I can’t beat Mike Tyson. Don said, what if I give you 3 ½ million dollars, and I said: ‘Where’s Mike at?’
“I’m just glad he didn’t kill me. He knocked me down a few times but I didn’t feel it because the first time he hit me I was numb.
“After the fight Mike said he loved me and I said, ‘Why’d you knockout my ass?’ Mike’s a great guy.”
Tyson then added: “It was a great opportunity to be in the ring with one of the great fighters of all time. It was a milestone in my career. He didn’t have time to prepare and I never fought the great Larry Holmes.
“I had no delusions; by all means, I didn’t fight the Holmes who fought Ali.
“I was very objective in the ring, nothing personal, but I’d have hit my mother.
“If I had mercy on him, he may have knocked my ass out. He didn’t have enough time to prepare when he fought me as Don didn’t give him the opportunity.”
Holmes stepped in to say: “I’m glad Mike beat me that day or else I’d have nothing to talk about.”
The two greats of the ring were also asked what was the highlight fight of their respective careers, to which Holmes replied first:
“Kenny Norton because so many people said I couldn’t do it as my legs were too small, and I was just a copy of Muhammad Ali. But I did the work and had the dedication,” said the 64 year-old.
Tyson then surprisingly named the first man to defeat on that fateful night in Tokyo.
“Buster Douglas as I needed that fight to make me a better person and fighter. I have a broader perspective of myself and boxing,” said the former Baddest Man on the Planet.
On suffering concussions in boxing, Tyson said: “I’m sure I had some concussions. When I signed my pro contract at 17 there was an unwritten clause that it was possible that you’d die. We knew and saw it but didn’t think it could happen to us.”
Holmes stated: “I never thought it would happen to me. My style was to move here and there and I didn’t get hit hard too often.
“Mike knocked me down, I got up, I thought the next was a slip, and he knocked me down again. I thought I’d get up and hit him with an uppercut but my arm got caught in the rope.
“I got hit hard by Ernie Shavers, too.”
Tyson then added his view to the Shavers punch: “That was a feat of strength. He looked like he got shot by a shotgun. It was amazing.
“I was amazed, too,” joked Holmes.
Tyson then talked about his work as a promoter and one is his fighters to watch this Friday night.
“We have a young kid from Pittsburgh, Sammy Vasquez. He’s a sensational fighter and a war veteran,” pointed out Tyson.
“We’ve promoted two shows on ESPN and one on ShoBox. In those three we either tied or broke the record for viewers. I’m grateful to be on ESPN again,” he added.
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