04
Apr
2020

Holes in the Walls! – The night ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson was the best he could be

Phil Jay 14/03/2020
Mike Tyson

HBO

Plenty has been said on how a peak Mike Tyson would have fared in any era of boxing, with some even believing he was the best ever for a brief period.

Fans of the former ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ would argue that at one point in time, Mike was completely unbeatable. That he would have walked through any heavyweight in history.

Well, in an interview during the early 1990s, Butch Lewis knew when that time was. A 1988 collision with Michael Spinks.

The fight, which took place in June at the Convention Hall in Atlantic City, was one of the most eagerly-anticipated battles of that era.

Two undefeated punchers, Tyson was on 34-0 and Spinks at 31-0 at the first bell. Dependent on who you asked, punters were split on who would come out on top.

But there was a moment before the clash began that Lewis, the manager of Spinks, knew his man had no chance of winning.

Lewis explained it in an ESPN documentary entitled, ‘The Fallen Champ’ at 47 minutes and 20 seconds of the film.

“Spink vs Tyson, it’s on. The whole world is waiting for the fight,” said Lewis.

“So, you go to each other’s dressing room to check the wraps and gloves and so forth. You know, I always try to get an edge where I can when my guy’s getting ready to box.

“I go in (to Tyson’s dressing room) and I think I’m going to rattle the kid because he’s under a lot of pressure.

“At the time, Jacobs had passed, Jim Jacobs – the closest guy to him – had died right on the verge of this happening.

“He was in the mix with Robin Givens and Don King was trying to pull him away from (his promoter) Bill Cayton.

“So I’m in the dressing room with Tyson and I’m looking to rattle this guy. I walk in, and he’s standing there with (Kevin) Rooney on the mitts. And he’s punching holes in the wall!

“I’m thinking, to myself, this guy is getting ready to fight my guy, my little guy and he’s punching holes in the wall before he goes out to fight?

“Oh no!”

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He continued: “That night, Mike Tyson knew his whole life had built to this moment. He’d been groomed like a gladiator.

“He was so tuned into that fight because he felt if he never performed inside that ring, that nobody would accept him outside of the ring.

“That Tyson that we met that night. No other boxer – professionally or as an amateur – has seen that Mike Tyson, other than Mike himself.

“Mike Tyson was at the best he could be that night.”

It would be twenty months before Tyson was finally knocked off his perch by James ‘Buster Douglas in Tokyo as his world fell apart around him.

Spinks, on the other hand, would never fight against despite being only 32 when taking the loss.

Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay