Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks

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1988-06-27 : Mike Tyson 218¼ lbs beat Michael Spinks 212¼ lbs by KO at 1:31 in round 1 of 12


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  • The fight was billed as "Once And For All." This was a fight between two undefeated fighters, each with a legitimate claim to the heavyweight championship of the world. The winner would have sole possession of the title.
  • Spinks became the first reigning light heavyweight champion to win a heavyweight championship when he defeated Larry Holmes for the IBF heavyweight title in 1985. Spinks was stripped of the IBF title in 1987 for refusing to fight #1 contender Tony Tucker. Promoter Don King won the right to promote a Spinks vs. Tucker title fight with a purse bid of $711,000, of which Spinks would get 75 percent. Spinks chose to fight Gerry Cooney instead for a guaranteed purse of $4 million. Spinks knocked out Cooney in five rounds.
  • Tyson entered the fight as the holder of all three major sanctioning body titles: He was the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion.
  • Spinks entered the fight without an alphabet title, but he was regarded as the lineal World Heavyweight Champion, as he had beaten Larry Holmes for the title and did not lose it in the ring.
  • Tyson, who had a record of 34-0 (30 KOs), was 7-0 (5 KOs) in world title fights.
  • Spinks, who had a record of 31-0 (21 KOs), was 14-0 (9 KOs) in world title fights.
  • Spinks, 16 days short of his 32nd birthday, had not fought in 12 months, which was the longest layoff of his career.
  • At 212¼ pounds, Spinks was fighting at the heaviest weight of his career.
  • Spinks entered the ring as a 4-1 underdog.
  • Tyson, three days short of his 22nd birthday, produced what is widely regarded as the best performance of his career.
  • One month after the fight, Spinks announced his retirement.
  • The one and only round of the fight was named the 1988 Round of the Year by The Ring Magazine.
  • Tyson earned $22 million, the biggest purse ever paid to a boxer at that time, and Spinks received $13.5 million.
  • Trump Plaza paid an $11 million site fee, HBO paid $3 million for delayed TV rights, $2 million was paid for foreign TV rights and Pepsi paid $1.25 million to sponsor the fight.
  • A sellout crowd of 21,785 at Convention Hall in Atlantic City produced a gate of $12.3 million.
  • The fight was shown on closed circuit TV and pay-per-view. 600,000 households bought the fight on pay-per-view, generating $21 million.
  • At the time, a typical four-day weekend in June produced about $215 million in gambling revenues for Atlantic City. By contrast, the estimate for the four days leading up to Tyson vs. Spinks was $344 million.

From Sports Illustrated:

Butch Lewis picked a lousy time to make heavyweight champion Mike Tyson angry. Just as Tyson prepared to leave his dressing room and make his way to the ring for Monday night's title defense against Michael Spinks at Atlantic City's Convention Center, Lewis, Spinks's promoter and manager, spotted what he thought was a lump on the wrist of Tyson's left glove. "Hold it," said the tuxedoed but bare-chested Lewis. "Get rid of that, or we don't fight."

Tyson's handlers explained that the bulge was simply the knotted laces, but Lewis demanded that it be examined by Larry Hazzard, the chairman of the New Jersey State Athletic Commission. Tyson, sweat dripping from his broad body, began pacing the dressing room in anger. Hazzard examined the glove and found it faultless, but Lewis continued to protest. The impasse wasn't broken until Eddie Futch, Spinks's 77-year-old trainer, said he, too, found the lump harmless. As Lewis left the locker room, Tyson turned to his trainer, Kevin Rooney. "You know," he said softly of Spinks, "I'm gonna hurt this guy."

As the challenger, the 31-year-old Spinks entered the ring first after the long delay. When he removed his robe, his 6'2½" body looked trim carrying 212¼ pounds, his heaviest weight ever, but it was dry. Spinks is a notoriously slow starter; it did not bode well that he hadn't warmed up properly.

By contrast, the 21-year-old Tyson was glistening as he prowled the ring during the introductions, and at the opening bell he pounced and threw a left hook that caught Spinks high on his head. "I noticed the fear come into his eyes then," Tyson said later. Spinks seemed to sag after the punch, a telling bit of body language common to Tyson's opponents the first time they absorb a solid blow from him. At that moment of violent impact, survival suddenly becomes much more important than victory.

Before the fight Futch had warned Spinks not to clinch. "We're not matching strength for strength," Futch had said. "That's his game." But Spinks seemed more interested in trying to wrap Tyson in his arms than in escaping harm with practiced retreat. In their first clinch, referee Frank Capuccino moved in when he spotted the laces of one of Tyson's gloves resting heavily against Spinks's throat.

"All right, stop punching," ordered Capuccino, at which point Tyson's elbow snapped up and his forearm cracked against Spinks's head.

"Hey, Mike, knock it off," Capuccino yelled. "Knock it off."

A moment later, as Spinks tried to back away, Tyson snapped his head back with a left uppercut. Spinks was still reacting from that when a short, twisting right hook caught him just below the heart. He dropped to one knee, the first knockdown of his professional career. Spinks was up at four as Capuccino counted to the mandatory eight. "You O.K.?" Capuccino asked, staring into Spinks's eyes.

Spinks peered down at Capuccino. "I'm all right," he said. When Tyson renewed his attack, Spinks tried to fend him off with a right, but it was too soft and moved too slowly. Tyson fired a left hook, shoulder high, over the uncertain right hand. The momentum of Spinks's own punch carried his head forward and down, and Tyson met it with a sweeping right hand. The punch traveled on a waist-high arc and caught Spinks at its most powerful point flush against his jaw. No man could have withstood it.

Spinks's eyes rolled up; his legs quivered. Then he fell straight back, arms outstretched. When Capuccino began to count, Spinks tried to force himself to his feet, but as he began to rise he crashed over on his right side. His head was resting against the bottom rope when Capuccino reached 10.

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