Mike Tyson vs. Tony Tucker

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1987-08-01 : Mike Tyson 221 lbs beat Tony Tucker 221 lbs by UD in round 12 of 12


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  • Mike Tyson 30-0 (27 KOs) vs. Tony Tucker 34-0 (29 KOs)
  • This was the final fight of HBO's heavyweight unification tournament. When the series was formally announced in January 1986, the network planned to spend six million for a seven-fight series. But with various contingencies, the series increased to 10 fights that cost HBO $22 million.
  • Originally, the WBA/WBC champion was going to face the winner of a fight between Michael Spinks, the IBF champion, and Tony Tucker, the IBF's No. 1 contender, in the tournaments final. However, instead of facing Tucker, Spinks chose to fight Gerry Cooney for a much larger purse and was stripped of the title on February 26, 1987. Three months later, on the undercard of Mike Tyson vs. Pinklon Thomas, Tucker defeated James (Buster) Douglas, the IBF's No. 2 contender, by a 10th-round TKO to win the vacant IBF heavyweight title.
  • On June 21, 1987, after attending a rap concert in Los Angeles, Tyson was accused of bear-hugging a female parking lot attendant, demanding a kiss and then striking with his open palm a male parking lot supervisor who came to her defense. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon (his hands) and battery, both of which were misdemeanors. Tyson settled the case out of court for $105,000.
  • A couple of weeks before the fight, there was a report that Tyson had skipped out of his Las Vegas training camp for four days to visit actress Robin Givens in Los Angeles. It was also reported that there was discord in the Tyson camp. Tyson's managers, Jim Jacobs and Bill Cayton, had allegedly approached Eddie Futch about replacing Kevin Rooney as Tyson's trainer. Tyson and his camp denied the reports.
  • Tyson earned approximately $2.5 million, while Tucker's purse was an estimated $1.9 million. However, according to HBO, Tucker made just $600,000 before taxes. The rest of his purse was owed to various people: Cedric Kushner, his former promoter, received $350,000; Josephine Abercrombie and Jeff Levine got $350,000 (They helped underwrite Kushner's investment); silent partners Dennis Rappaport and Alan Kornberg took $252,000 (Rappaport wanted $540,000 and unsuccessfully tried to stop the fight to get it); Bob Tucker, his father and trainer, picked up $228,000; and Emanuel Steward, his first manager, collected $120,000.
  • The fight was originally scheduled for 15 rounds, but it was reduced to a 12 rounds after the three governing bodies met and approved the change on the morning of July 31.
  • There was a crowd of 7,419.
  • Tyson entered the ring as an 11 to 1 betting favorite.
  • According to CompuBox, Tyson landed 216 of 412 total punches (52 percent), while Tucker connected on 174 of 452 (39 percent).
  • Tyson unified the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles, becoming the "undisputed" heavyweight champion of the world. However, the lineal champion was still Michael Spinks, who was at the fight. As a publicity stunt, he sat in the last role of the bleachers.
  • HBO commentator Larry Merchant scored the bout 117-112 in favor of Tyson. He gave rounds one, three and 12 to Tucker, called the eighth even and scored the rest for Tyson.
  • Phil Berger reported the following in the August 2, 1987, edition of the New York Times:
Boxing has an undisputed heavyweight champion, and he is Mike Tyson. Tyson hammered out a unanimous 12-round decision over Tony Tucker tonight at the Las Vegas Hilton Center. But it was not a vintage performance by the victor, who had a problem landing more than a single punch at a time. That was because Tucker, the International Boxing Federation champion, fought a survivalist's fight. Though he rattled Tyson's head with jarring right uppercuts and straight right leads early in the match, Tucker lost the snap in his punches after the fourth round and mostly fought to make it through the 12-round distance. He did last the distance. He circled and grabbed. He sidestepped Tyson's charges or deflected them by pushing Tyson with his gloves. Sometimes he neutralized his opponent by pressing Tyson's head down as the 21-year-old slugger came forward. But Tyson, the World Boxing Council-World Boxing Association champion, landed the big punches over the last two-thirds of the fight. Tucker came alive again only in the final round when he landed a thudding left hook against Tyson's head. All three judges voted for Tyson, with Phil Newman scoring it 119-111; Julio Roldan, 118-113, and Bill Graham, 116-112. There were no knockdowns. Tucker used the sort of tactics that have frustrated Iron Mike in previous bouts - against James (Bonecrusher) Smith last March and for a few rounds against Pinklon Thomas in May. But Tyson showed patience tonight, using his jab to establish his offense more than he had in the past when opponents grabbed and clinched excessively.
Tyson made the title whole again in Las Vegas as HBO's 16-month, $22 million heavyweight unification series came to a close. . . . It was a historic moment, and, of course, they had to mess it up. In a tasteless ceremony dubbed "the coronation" by promoter Don King, an embarrassed Tyson was wrapped in a chinchilla robe, courtesy of Lenobel Furriers of Las Vegas; handed a jeweled scepter from Felix the Jeweler, Las Vegas; and topped with a crown that King described as studded with "baubles, rubies and fabulous doodads." It looked as if it had been found in Emmett Kelly's trunk. (Photo)


  • "I was thinking that—because he was very intimidated, and he was freezing every once in awhile—I was thinking I would get him with a good right hand." - Mike Tyson during a post-fight interview with Larry Merchant.
  • "No, not really, because I was trying my best to punch inside, but I guess it wasn't together today, and he was very intimidated, and it was very tough. . . . as long as you make mistakes, can I tell you, you have no means to be happy. I'm a perfectionist. I want to be perfect, and I was trying to use my jab more, and I was just a little confused because he was holding a lot, but I stopped being frustrated, and I just continued jabbing most of the round." - Mike Tyson after Larry Merchant asked him if he was happy with his performance.
  • "Yes, he did. He's a very hard puncher. After it hit me, it was history. It went away." - Mike Tyson after Larry Merchant said Tony Tucker rocked him in the first round.
  • "It was hard to tell because he did a great deal of holding. He threw very fast punches." - Mike Tyson after Larry Merchant asked him if Tony Tucker was better than he thought.
  • "Well, I don't know really. You'll have to talk to Jim Jacobs right here. He handles all that. I fight whoever my manager wants me to fight, you know, I'm just a fighter. I do what he tells me to do." - Tyson after Larry Merchant asked him if he planned to fight Michael Spinks.
  • "I think words cannot really describe what I feel for that Tony Tucker. I think what he displayed tonight was the fact that he was a non-conformist. He did what a lot of us didn't the he could do, and that's why I respect the man so much, because he boxed, he clinched, he fought a very strategic, a very technical, a very intelligent fight." - HBO commentator Sugar Ray Leonard after the fight.
  • "I hurt my right hand, and it was giving me some problems after the second round where I hit him, but I thought I still outboxed him. I was moving good. . . . Everybody came here expecting him to win. The odds were, you know, in his favor. You know, if it was a close fight, I figured they were going to give it to him, anyway, you know, but I still think I beat him, but that's okay, you know, the world knows Tony Tucker's here. I'm for real." - Tony Tucker during a post-fight interview with Larry Merchant.
  • "His own boredom could be a problem. He could stay on top a long time—if that's what he wants. That's a big 'if.' That's up to him. He's under a lot of pressure, and the next few years will be a problem. He won't mature until he's 25." - Kevin Rooney on Mike Tyson
  • "It was a classic fight between two undefeated guys with punching power. I'm looking for a rematch. Mike is a great fighter. He put on a helluva show." - Tony Tucker
  • "It's hurting bad now. But it didn't hurt while I was fighting." - Mike Tyson speaking about his right big toe. (Tucker stepped on the toe early in the fight and tore the nail off it.)
  • "My right hand was broken when I fought him. I knew Tyson couldn’t beat me. A couple days before, I was sparring against a guy named Young Joe Louis. This guy was doing a lot of talking bad about me. I heard this from my sparring partners. So I chose him to spar against first because I was gonna put him down. I was hitting him real good when I heard a pop in my hand. When I went back to the corner, I knew I had hurt it bad. The doctor said I had a small hand fracture. They said I would need therapy and to not use it for 10 days. I had to fight Tyson in less than that. I went in determined, though. I was very apprehensive to attack Tyson due to the hand. I hit him with a right uppercut early, and my hand just shattered. It was the worst pain ever. I still went on, though, that’s why I did all those antics and everything. I was supposed to beat this guy, but how could I with one hand. With two hands, I would have knocked Mike Tyson out. . . . I regret that I fought Tyson not fully healthy. If I would have postponed the fight, I may have been blackballed. I wouldn’t sign with Don King back then, and he was running things." - Tony Tucker during a 2008 interview with BoxingInsider.com.