There was one moment in the history of boxing when one fighter named Mike Tyson, was on a single night, simply the best fighter that’s ever been.
That’s the view of former trainer Teddy Atlas, and to be fair, it’s hard to disagree with him. The date was June 27 of 1988 and Mike Tyson was a wrecking machine.
Already the unified and undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, many thought a 31-0 Michael Spinks would certainly offer a stern test for ‘Iron’ Mike.
Not so, as Tyson ran over Spinks in a minute and half of a terrorization never seen before. As Atlas remembers it, ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ was entirely unstoppable.
“That night, Tyson was as good as any fighter has ever been when they got in that ring,” said Atlas when reviewing the ESPN replay of the 91-second demolition on Sports Center.
“Complete supreme confidence, power, aggression, command, being a boss, and smart, too.
“That first knockdown he hits him with an uppercut. He goes off and finds the opening. He’s calm enough to find the opening for the body shot.
“Then later he understands after he (Spinks) gets up, when he goes in for the finish, he knows Spinks’ best punch is the right hand. So he’s ready for it and he makes the right hand miss and bang, he counters with his own right hand.
“That’s intellect, that’s the whole package. That night, Tyson was as good as any heavyweight has ever been,” he added.
Could any of the greats from the pre-1980s day have stood up to Mike Tyson that evening? – It would take a brave man to argue that fact.
Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, to name but a few. Would they have been able to withstand a human battering ram with totally unrivaled speed at that point in time?
It’s a fascinating debate. One which Atlas is in prime position to air his ever-inciteful views on.
The fear factor of Tyson alone had opponents quivering in their boots as they waited nervously for him to enter the ring.
It was Tyson’s time of dominance and the peak of his powers. Yet he was still three days shy of his 22nd birthday.
Who knows what Tyson would have gone on to achieve had he kept his swelling ego and party lifestyle under control for long enough.
As the hunger and desire waned, the need to take out his rival dwindled with it, and in 1990 culminated in fans witnessing the end of an era.
Furthermore, Tyson was never the same again, having hit a stratospheric level at the tender age of 21.
The fact Michael Spinks never fought again tells its own story.