Mike Tyson’s historic fight against Buster Douglas deserves a deep rewind

Mike Tyson’s historic fight against Buster Douglas deserves a deep rewind


– It’s February 11th, 1990,
Korakuen Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.
It’s the 10th title defense
for the undefeated, undisputed
heavyweight champion of
the world, Mike Tyson.
His opponent is 42-to-one
underdog Buster Douglas,
and virtually no one in this building
outside of the men in Douglas’ corner
believe he has any shot to win this bout.
Most never even expected him
to get out of the first round,
but in defiance of all odds
we’re here in the 10th,
and neither fighter has a clear lead.
It is a monumental accomplishment
that Buster Douglas has lasted this long.
But to understand why we need to rewind.
(graceful music)
Buster Douglas has fought
his heart out tonight.
He has not only survived in the ring
with Mike Tyson for 10 rounds,
but he has dominated enough of them
to have a legitimate
chance of being crowned
the heavyweight champion if
this fight goes the distance.
For an idea of just how unlikely
this current situation is,
look no further than its
location, Tokyo, Japan.
– To test the theory, the
ticket buyers on foreign shores
will purchase what Americans
seem increasingly
unwilling to shell out for,
apparent mismatches for Mike Tyson.
– This fight was so lopsided
that American audiences
wouldn’t pay to watch it.
Only one casino would
even take bets on it,
raising the odds all the way to 42-to-one
before they managed to
get wagers on Douglas.
To put those odds in perspective
when Cassius Clay, later
known as Muhammad Ali
defeated Sonny Liston in
1964, it was a historic upset.
The odds on that fight, seven to one.
This fight is not meant to be competitive.
It’s a tune up to get Mike
Tyson ready for the real fight,
a matchup against the number one contender
Evander Holyfield, who’s ringside tonight
to watch his next opponent.
Promoters are so sure a new champion
won’t be crowned tonight
that Holyfield already has
a $12 million guarantee
to fight Tyson later in the year.
The hope is that maybe, just maybe,
the undefeated Holyfield would
have a chance to take down
the giant he has come to watch tonight.
Mike Tyson has been at the
top of the boxing world
since 1986, when he became the
youngest heavyweight champion
in the history of the sport.
Bulldozing his way through
champion Trevor Berbick
and ending the fight in the second round.
Four years and nine title defenses later,
he has been so dominant
that fans are left wondering
if anyone can beat him.
If you’re wondering how
Tyson has been lately,
well, two of his last three fights
have ended in a minute and a half.
In 1988, Tyson faced off against
Lineal Heavyweight
Champion Michael Spinks.
Both fighters entered the ring undefeated
and the boxing world believed that
if Mike Tyson was ever to
lose, this would be the fight.
Donald Trump spent a record $11 million
to host it at his Atlantic
City Convention Hall,
and it became the highest
grossing fight of all time.
With the world watching, the
fight ended in 91 seconds.
The question is, how is it possible
that Douglas does any better?
The answer is no one expects him to.
– …Merchant, Larry what
are we about to see?
Another 92nd annihilation?
– [Larry] This fight is
over before it begins
or soon thereafter.
– [Narrator] Mike Tyson 31-and-O,
has never even been knocked down,
and his average number
of rounds per title fight
is the lowest ever by a large margin.
But Buster Douglas didn’t let any of that
shake his confidence.
– [Announcer] Douglas
insists that he’s going to
shock the world in this fight.
– [Commentator] He would
shock most of the world
if he could make it
into the middle rounds.
– [Narrator] Shocked
is exactly how everyone
feels right now.
Many tried to guess how many
minutes Douglas would last,
let alone How many rounds,
but here we are in the 10th
Douglas 29, four-in-one
is ranked two, three and four
by the major boxing organizations.
The number one contender in all three
is the man ringside with a
contract already in place
to be Tyson’s next
fight, assuming he wins.
So how did Douglas get this
title shot in the first place.
James Buster Douglas is
the son of former boxer
Bill Douglas, who trained
him to start his career.
A string of three wins in 1986
gave him a shot at the vacated
IBF Heavyweight Championship.
He lost to Tony Tucker in 10 rounds
and then made the decision to part ways
with his father as his trainer.
The pressure of fighting in his shadow
had finally taken its toll
and it was time to move on.
It was a decision that rippled
through his family life,
but one that ultimately paid dividends.
Douglas went on a six fight win streak
including one against
former heavyweight champion
and Tyson victim, Trevor Berbick.
His win streak led to the opportunity
to be Tyson’s punching bag
on Route two Holyfield.
Douglas is at the top of his game,
but it has not been
without some huge hurdles
in the lead up to this fight.
When his mother Lula found
out how vicious of a man
her son was going to enter the ring with
she implored him to reconsider.
He convinced her he could win,
and she started to believe he would.
But 23 days before the fight,
Lula Douglas died of a
stroke at the age of 47.
In the wake of this tragedy,
along with the mother of his child
suffering from a severe kidney problem,
some thought Douglas might
pull out of the fight,
but he continued to train
and aimed to be in the
best shape of his life.
To start the fight, it looks like he is.
– [Commentator] I’m surprised
at Buster moving so well.
– [Narrator] His movement
is quick and fluid
despite being on antibiotics for the flu
the week of the fight, he is
aggressive, and it’s working.
– [Commentator] That was
a good round for Douglas
and I gave it to him.
Probably the best round
I’ve ever seen him fight.
– [Narrator] Douglas’
game plan revolves around
using his jab effectively.
It’s no different in this fight,
and it’s keeping Tyson at a distance.
Tyson is used to operating
with a shorter reach than his opponent,
but Douglas is making good use
of his 12 inch reach advantage
and stringing together combos
that are surprising onlookers.
At the end of two rounds,
Douglas had landed 52
punches to Tyson’s 16.
By the fifth round, things had
only gotten worse for Tyson
who continued to struggle
absorbing blow after blow
and returning none of the punishment.
– [Commentator] Another right hand
and now Tyson seems to be wobbled.
Mike is not throwing back.
Buster Douglas is completely
dominating this round.
– Tyson’s left I began to close
after an evening of making
friends with Douglas’ right hand
time for his cut man
to get out the enswell,
but that is not an enswell,
this is an enswell.
That is a latex glove, blown
up and filled with ice.
Tyson’s corner man, Aaron Snowell
was so confident Tyson wouldn’t need it
that he didn’t bring one.
Tyson’s camp treated this fight
the same way I used to
treat going to the beach.
Why would I bring sunscreen
if I’m not gonna use it?
some lessons are learned the hard way.
So what is this corner man
MacGyver even doing here?
Well, over the last couple of years
Tyson has made some changes in his camp.
Following his electrifying
win over Spinks,
Tyson made the decision to move on
from his manager Bill Clayton,
and fire his longtime
trainer Kevin Rooney.
It was a controversial
move that many believe
was at the urging of promoter Don King,
who has been accused by some
of misguiding Tyson’s career.
Rooney had taken over as trainer
following the death of
Tyson’s adopted father
and original trainer Cus D’Amato
Rooney helped Tyson home D’Amato’s
peekaboo style of boxing,
which focused on movement.
Many fights have been ended
by Tyson’s signature uppercut,
but those uppercuts are made possible
by the proceeding movements.
– And anybody could
see I’m almost a master
at invading the punches coming at me.
If anybody saw all of my
fights I don’t get hit.
It’s hard because I’m a
counter puncher myself,
but I just do it with a lot of aggression.
– [Narrator] Once Tyson
parted ways with Rooney
many noted a drastic drop off
in Tyson’s mobility in the ring,
leading to an increase absorption of hits,
and here in the 10th round,
a stunned one-eyed Mike Tyson
has put that on display for everyone.
But when you fight Mike Tyson,
all he needs is one good shot to end it,
and that shots looked to have
come in the eighth round.
Through seven Douglas was
continuing to showcase his jab,
connecting on 89 compared to Tyson’s 21
but with mere seconds
left in the eighth round,
Tyson moved just enough
to turn Douglas’s jab
into a glancing blow and
countered with an uppercut
that sent Douglas to the mat.
It was the shot everyone was waiting for.
The boxing world had been realigned.
Douglas put up a fight, but in the end,
Iron Mike cannot be beaten.
But as the count hit nine,
much to the amazement of everyone
watching, Douglas was up.
This fight wasn’t over.
He was then saved by the Bell
and lived to fight another round.
The ninth round began
and Tyson had his eye
on picking up where he left off,
but Douglas was ready for it.
He landed some early shots
to send the message to Tyson
that the fight was still on,
and he didn’t stop there.
With a little over a
minute left in the round,
Douglas put a wobbling Tyson on the ropes.
– [Commentator] Without the
ropes Mike would have gone down.
– [Narrator] Both fighters
entered the 10th round
looking to end it.
Mike Tyson has never in his career
taken this much punishment in a fight.
A fight his team was so confident entering
that they didn’t even
bring the basic tools
to battle swelling.
Buster Douglas the 42-to-one underdog
in the only casino willing
to take bets on the bout
has stepped out of the
shadow of his father
and created a name for himself
by just surviving this long against Tyson.
He has had to fight respiratory illness
in the same week he had to push his body
to the ultimate limits.
He has shouldered the
pain of losing his mother
only a short time after convincing her
he could hold his own in
this ring, in this fight
against the greatest boxer on Earth.
The world only gave him 90 seconds,
and here he is in the 10th round.
Welcome to a moment in history.
– [Commentator] To try to get in the shot
that will finish things–
– [Announcer] Oh, the uppercut!
– [Commentator] What
an uppercut by Douglas
and down goes Tyson.
– Five,
six,
seven,
eight,
nine.
– [Announcer] It’s over.
– [Man] It’s over.
– [Commentator] Mike Tyson
has been knocked out.

100 thoughts on “Mike Tyson’s historic fight against Buster Douglas deserves a deep rewind”

  1. Hey fun fact! Korakuen Stadium was actually demolished in 1988. This fight took place in what is now known as the Tokyo Dome but many at the time of this fight, including the original HBO broadcast, referred to the venue as Korakuen Stadium. I, too, am scared of change.

  2. Did you mention the ref is guilty of a slow count in Douglas' favor? Check out the official ring side crew next to bell ringer. He clearly counts to 13. Mikey got robbed !!!

  3. come on guys, Buster had a GREAT fight, but the ref gave him the SLOWEST count compared to Tyson's count. Clearly we all love underdogs, but that ref obviously favored Busta.

  4. Wow, you didn't even bring up how excessively long the count that Douglas beat was. That count took well over ten seconds, with any good ref Tyson wins the fight.

  5. A young, quick, legendary counter puncher, who can take a punch as well as any in history, vs a young, quick, devastating knockout artist, as good as anyone who has ever been in the ring . We did get the fight years later, and it was a good fight, but both were past their prime we got robbed. To this day, when brought up, usually spurs a good debate of what would have happened. Personally, I think it would have been one of the greatest bouts in history

  6. Time out. Tenth round and neither fighter has a clear lead? The judges may have had them even (that was crazy) but Douglas delivered over 200 punches to Tyson's appx 103 shots that connected. James dominated Mike who was just 23 while Buster was 29, very sick, had recently buried his mother, had a very sick relative and his wife had left him not long before. I know Buster. That 8th round "knockout" as he told me was him doing a body check and taking the count/rest. If Meyran had counted more accurately I think Buster would have sprung up earlier. Fighters are in the hands of their corners and the referee. Buster was an experienced pro and the son of a middleweight contender-he knew what to do during a knockdown. I think Tyson ALSO had a long count but he was disoriented whereas Buster at the knock down in Round 8 was mad he let his guard down. TONS OF RESPECT TO JAMES BUSTER DOUGLAS!!!

  7. "Neither fighter had a clear lead." Yes… one of them did. On a sane card — which of course only one of the three official judges turned out to be keeping — Douglas had won almost all rounds of the fight.

  8. What? Tyson and Douglas were about even in points by the tenth round!? BULLSHIT!!!! Douglas was beating the hell out of Mike Tyson through out the fight, i only gave him 2 rounds. Tyson might have won 1 more round but that's it. Douglas was clearly the dominant fighter by a wide margin, it wasn't even close smh.

  9. It is so sad, Mike Tyson had the qualities to become the greatest heavyweight boxer in history, better than Ali, Marciano or Louis. He was fast but also strong, shorter than his opponents and still able to beat them in counterpunching, he knocked out boxer after boxer after boxer, and did it extremely fast, he was young when he became world champion… and then he made some really bad choices in his career.

  10. If you are going for a deeper look what about the count discrepancy? Tyson got a fast count and Douglass got a slow one. You couldn’t even highlight that at all.

  11. Kevin Rooney was key. An astute observation. Your affinity for the subject is apparent as is your attention to detail. Story well told. Looking forward to more.

  12. I remember this so vividly as a child. All the adults were stunned. I was stunned because my favorite boxer from the Nintendo game I play with him is now changed forever.

    That fight changed Boxing and Tyson’s life course.

  13. A boxing Rewind they should do is Tyson Fury Vs Deontay Wilder. Tyson gets up from a round 12 knockdown ending in a controversial draw

  14. Mike Tyson:
    can't beat a man fighting the flu

    Also Mike Tyson:
    bites part of a man's ear off

    Mike Tyson:
    "I like pigeons."

  15. Man this is the best one yet! Born in 98 I didn’t know about the tension behind this fight.

    Shout out Buster Man! He ain’t no buster, man!

  16. You need more focus on Don King. Despite Tyson’s poor judgement, his career probably would have remained fine at the time of the Douglas fight if King never got a hold of him.

  17. Just the perfect opportunity for Douglas to win. Tyson had fired his trainer Kevin Rooney, was in the clutches of Don King, and Douglas’ mother had just died. Any other night, Mike would have won. But hats off to Buster, the best fight he ever fought.

  18. The big error in this vid is the fight was clearly won by Buster right up until he finished Tyson ,it was NOT up for the taking as implied by SB nation.

  19. I wonder if mike took a dive and got paid for this one? I doubt it but boxing is the most crooked sport on earth so????????????

  20. Thanks for posting this video. I watched this fight on Pay Per View with friends. I'm no boxing expert but I always felt like Tyson just wasn't mentally engaged in this fight like he had been when he clocked so many opponents in the early rounds. Your in depth analysis of the changes with his training explains a lot when you look at this performance.

  21. Tyson won this fight! He knocked Douglas out in the 8th. Watch the real fight. You don't "get up at 9." The count keeps going til you stand up and the ref looks you in the eye. Lol if you're not up by 8, you can't beat the 10 count. What a rip off.

  22. Great video. I had vivid dreams of this fight when I backed Carlos Takam at 33/1 vs Anthony Joshua in 2017. Then moved to Australia and didn't realise Ruiz Jr was a similar price! No one should ever be over 10/1 in a boxing match.

  23. People forget the reason Mike lost. It was because his brother Neil confused him with the Vulcan salute and Mike couldn't understand what it meant.

  24. Buster won this fight fair and square.

    And honestly, he gave the prototype strategy for being Tyson. If you're a big man, punish Tyson on the outside, be light on your feet, and tie up Tyson when he gets inside. Be patient, and don't get suckered into fighting in a phone booth.

    Holyfield did this well the first fight.

    Lennox Lewis, one of the best heavyweight boxers of the 90's, did this especially well. His jab obliterated Tyson at long range. Plus, tbh, Tyson wasn't the same fighter anymore.

  25. Tyson didn't train for this fight was out of shape caught gonorrhea and still got robbed this whole fight was a joke we should be talking about the greatest robbery that took place instead of a bullshit upset

  26. If you know your boxing you will know Tyson v Douglas was getting called off 2 weeks before the fight ,Douglas had a bad lung infection Buster Douglas was on a heavy doze of steroids for weeks before this fight.

  27. To my dying day I will believe that 9-count In the 8th round was laughably slow. Tyson won that fight. Two rounds earlier.

  28. Combination of Douglas losing his mother and having everything to lose with that fight and Tyson and his team not taking him seriously. Not training seriously, not having a cut man or an enswell. They thought this was going to be a one or two round fight.

  29. Greg Page dropped tyson in sparring…Larry showed exactly how to beat him but his timing was gone…uppercuts are so underrated and underused! We all were sucked in by the hype …after he stuffed Spinks…i am ashamed…ashamed to even think he could have beaten the Greatest….

  30. Its the Rooney firing that screwed Tyson. Rooney was the last dude in Tysons life that wanted the best for Tyson (almost all the time), and King knew it.

  31. That was a long ass pause on the count for Buster Douglas IDGAF what anybody says long count something was rigged!!

  32. Great recap of Douglas vs Tyson which is celebrating its 30th anniversary on Monday 2/10/20. Can you do one on the controversial but great Meldrick Taylor vs Julio Caesar Chavez fight that took place a month after this Tyson monumental upset??

  33. I remember watching this fight as an 8 year old with my father watching Tyson lose was so shocking just a great memory I'll always have sorry Mike lol

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