When ‘Iron’ Mike was the Baddest Man
In March 1985, an up and coming heavyweight by the name of Mike Gerard Tyson made his debut out of Catskill, New York on the Kevin Rooney v Garland Wright undercard.
At 18 years of age, the broad-shouldered youngster was already tipped for stardom having won two Junior Olympic gold medals and scoring the fastest ever knockout at the games at just eight seconds.
Defeat on points to Henry Tillman had meant Tyson missed out on a place at the 1984 Olympics, which his rival went on to win, and the New Yorker was now concentrating all his efforts on making a name for himself in the paid ranks.
Victory over Hector Mercedes at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany would be the catalyst for an amazing run of knockouts by Tyson who fought 15 times in nine months and never went the distance.
A similar pattern emerged into 1986, when by this time, Tyson was well-known and feared by the top division contenders as he began to step up his opposition. Four more early finishes would lead Tyson into his first real test against James ‘Quick’ Tillis whom the nearing 20 year-old went ten rounds with, winning by decision. Another failed knockout attempt followed against Mitch Green just seventeen days later, although Tyson would then score another six straight stoppages to lead him nicely into a first world title shot.
Tyson would meet Trevor Berbick for the WBC championship at the tender age of 20 years and four months in a bid to become the youngest heavyweight title holder in history. The massive puncher took just five minutes to smash Berbick to bits, overhaul the great Floyd Patterson’s record, and strike fear into the hearts of the boxing world.
Instant A-list celebrity status hit Tyson almost as hard as the ferocious fighter concussed Berbick and the new champion would rule with an iron fist that would come with a nickname to match his awesome persona.
‘Iron’ Mike spent four years as an unbeatable and invincible force in the sport and arguably could have ruled for a decade or more had outside influences and problems not reared their ugly heads.
A now infamous 1990 loss to James ‘Buster’ Douglas in Tokyo, in which Tyson should have been awarded an eighth round knockout win following an extra-long count, put the brakes on a reign that is up there with the best around and will hopefully forever overshadow some of the more notorious shenanigans that followed in the years to come.