I WATCH THIS FIGHT EVERY YEAR and ever year, it’s just as great: Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson, February 11, 1990 in Tokyo Japan. Buster stunned the world and k.o.’s the “meanest man on the planet”, the previously undefeated Mike Tyson.
In truth, from a pure boxing analysis perspective, there were a few people who predicted that Buster was the type of fighter that could beat Tyson. Someone taller, as strong, with a long reach, who could keep a left jab permanently on Mike’s head the entire fight, and most importantly, someone with heart, who was not afraid.
Nothing in Buster’s past suggested he was that man but 27 years ago, he was and shocked the world! You have to understand just how invincible everyone thought Tyson was. He destroyed every fighter he faced, often in the first few rounds (in the case of Michael Spinks, in :91 seconds). Even with a bevy of life problems surfacing every other day, and surrounded by the wrong people, Tyson was not going to lost to Buster, a guy who quit a previous fight, sometimes came in out of shape, and was generally regarded as a fighter who would never reach the big time heights of becoming world champion. Oddsmakers put Buster as a 42-1 underdog; most American media outlets didn’t send reporters to Japan to cover the fight.
Yet, Douglas did win, convincingly. He kept that jab in Tyson’s face all night long, knocking Tyson out in the 10th round. The image of Tyson flailing on the canvas, trying to get up and put his mouthpiece back in has become iconic.
27 years ago today, February 11, 1990. For the best book on this fight, the drama Tyson had leading up to it, and how the fight changed both men, check out THE LAST GREAT FIGHT: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changed Their Lives Forever by Joe Layden