Mike Tyson vs. Tony Tubbs

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1988-03-21 : Mike Tyson 216¼ lbs beat Tony Tubbs 238¼ lbs by TKO at 2:54 in round 2 of 12

Mike Tyson stopped Tony Tubbs with a ferocious left hook at two minutes fifty-four seconds of the second round to remain undisputed heavyweight champion.

Tubbs started well landing several lefts to the Tyson's head, which the champion matched with blows to the body. At the end of round one, one judge scored if for Tubbs, another for Tyson, and the third ruled it even.

But in the second round, Tyson's youth, speed, and stamina began to show. Tubbs scored with some punches in the beginning of the round, but then Tyson landed a left that sent Tubbs heavily into the ropes. Moments later, Tyson connected with his signature right hook to the body, right uppercut combination that hurt Tubbs and following a break, Tyson landed a single left hook to the head that turned Tubbs, who stumbled to a neutral corner, attempted to grab onto the top rope, then fell flat on his back bleeding from a cut above his right eye. Almost immediately, Tubbs's trainer Odell Hadley jumped into the ring and threw in the towel.


  • Mike Tyson 33-0 (29 KOs) vs. Tony Tubbs 24-1 (15 KOs) -- the broadcast listed Tubbs' record as 25-1 (16 KOs).
  • The IBF, which was not recognized by the Japanese Boxing Board, threatened to strip Tyson of the belt if he did not wear it to the ring. The IBF did, however, accept the $60,000 sanctioning fee and did not follow through with the threat.
Program Cover
  • On February 7th, Tyson married actress Robin Givens and shortly after went to Japan to train. He had his honeymoon with Givens in Japan.
  • While in Japan, Tyson appeared on television talk shows, attended gatherings in his honor, met with popular sumo wrestlers including Konishiki, and attending an event for handicapped children.
  • Tubbs was widely criticized for his weight coming into the bout and was to receive an additional $50,000 if he weighed in at 235 pounds or less.
  • It was the first boxing card to be held in the Tokyo Dome and the first heavyweight title fight in the country since 1973, when George Foreman defeated Jose Roman.
  • Eighty percent of the 55,000 tickets available were sold on the first day and some paid as high as $800 to get into the match. The attendance was listed as a capacity 55,000, but many of the upper-level seats were empty during the match.
  • It was the first fight of Tyson's professional career that manager Jim Jacobs was unable to attend. He was hospitalized at the time with pneumonia and died two days after the fight. Co-manager Bill Cayton said Jacobs had battled lymphocytic leukemia for nine years. Tyson was back in the United States at the time of Jacobs' death and having not known how sick Jacobs was, he was said to be "shaken and distraught". In little more than two years, Tyson had lost the two most stabilizing men in his life. At Jacobs' funeral, Tyson sat alone sobbing.
  • American crooner, Andy Williams sang "The Star Spangled Banner."
  • Tubbs entered the ring to "How Ya Like Me Now" by Kool Moe Dee. Tyson entered to a rock instrumental.
  • Tyson was already scheduled to meet Michael Spinks on June 27th.
  • Tyson made between $9 and $10 million, while Tubbs received $500,000.
  • It was the first knockout loss of Tubbs' professional career.


  • Tyson was enormously popular in Japan and that is what prompted Don King to bring him to the country to fight there. It was thought to be the beginning of Mike Tyson's World Tour. As the television broadcast indicated, nearly every move of Tyson was watched and followed while in the country and many of his early morning runs occurred while being chased by fans or by members of the Japanese media. Tyson said of being in Japan, "It's scary. I don't mind being the champ of the world and getting the attention I get in America, but this is a whole different dimension when you leave your country and you're a bigger star in other countries, than you are in your own country. That's kind of frightening, to me it is. I didn't ever want to be a super-super star. I just wanted to be the champion of the world. I feel like I left Earth and went to another planet. I've never experienced anything like this before in my life, around a bunch of people that just floundered around me and just so excited to just be around me. It was an experience I don't know if I'll ever experience again."
  • "I know physically, I'm in shape. 230 is my weight, 229, 228 is a plus, but I'll be 230 and hard. Physically, you'll be seeing the new Tony Tubbs. When I step in the ring, they are going to say, "Wow, look at that cat." Once I start putting the moves down on Mike Tyson, this fight not be as hard as ya'll think it's gonna be, because Mike Tyson is only good for what he can hit. I know right now that I am one of the best heavyweights there is in the world. I can box better than any of 'em and I ain't taking no back seats to none of 'em. I'm not even taking a backseat to Mike Tyson." - Tony Tubbs the day before the fight.
  • "I did what I was supposed to do to a guy supposedly out of shape. I got rid of him quick. If he had lasted six or seven rounds, I could have been criticized. It's his prerogative to come into the ring the way he wants. He didn't come out like a guy who just came to pick up a paycheck, he came out to fight. He got hit with solid shot." - Mike Tyson
  • "He's an easy target to hit. I was surprised he had his hands so high, so I went to the body to bring his hands down. I thought I was wearing him down. I landed some good shots. Then, late in the second, I landed a punch to the body he countered with a left hook, I countered right back... and caught him in the eye." - Mike Tyson
  • "Tyson is the world champion and he came out with his lefts in the second round, but I will be back." - Tony Tubbs
  • "Wherever I fight is my home. I'm only here to do a job." - Mike Tyson


  • "Mike the hammer of Tubbs hands down" (1988, Mar. 22) The Glasgow Herald p. 30. Article
  • "Sayonara Sock!" (1988, Mar. 22) New Straits Times p. 24. Article
  • Borges, Ron. "Tyson rocks Tubbs, Champ needs only 2 rounds" (1988, Mar. 21) Boston Globe p. 41. Article