James Tillis vs. Mike Tyson

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Mike Tyson 215 lbs beat James Tillis 208 lbs by UD in round 10 of 10

  • Aired On: ABC's Wide World of Sports (Main Event)
  • Promoter: HBA East


  • Mike Tyson 19-0 (19 KOs) vs. James Tillis 31-8 (24 KOs)
  • This was the first time Tyson had gone the distance in a pro fight.
  • The bout was originally scheduled for March 29th, but was postponed until May 3rd to allow Tyson time to recover from an infected right ear. [1]
  • Tillis entered with a record of 1-4 in his previous five bouts.
  • Tillis was fighting at his lightest in over two years. At 215 lbs., Tyson was 4.5 lbs. lighter than in his previous bout two months earlier.
  • A veteran of 39 fights, Tillis was and was expected to be Tyson's best competition to date.
  • Some said Tyson won the Fight, Some said Tillis won, it was quite controversial.
  • Attendance: 7,591
  • The two fighters met again on November 13th, 1987 in a four-round fundraising exhibition at De Paul`s Alumni Hall with the proceeds going to the rebuilding of Holy Angels Church. Each man wore headgear and 16-ounce gloves.

Bout Summary


Tyson landed solid right hands to the body early in the opening round and connected with a right hook in the final seconds as Tillis moved, worked behind a jab, and landed decently well himself including a good right uppercut near the two-minute mark. Tyson landed a left hook after the bell to end Round 1. At the recommendation of his corner, Tyson tried to jab while closing distance and landed a good right 53 seconds into Round 2 that caused Tillis to hold. He too occasionally stuck Tillis with a right hook to the body. Tillis landed a left hook in the first half of the round and a good left uppercut to the body in the final minute. Tyson landed the heavier shots in Round 3 and caught Tillis with a combination, to which Tillis, who often traded punches, replied by exchanging with flurries while against the ropes. Tillis landed well with the left hand in the opening minute of Round 4. In the final seconds of the round, Tillis lunged in with a left hand. Tyson dipped to his right, spun, and caught Tillis with a left hand that scored a flash knockdown sending Tillis to the mat. He was up at the count of three and was not hurt, but the knockdown cost Tillis what was his best round thus far in the fight. Tillis came out in Round 5 with added aggression and landed shots to the head of Tyson, who failed to throw punches on the inside. Tyson came on in the final minute of the round, with a pair of body shots that appeared to hurt Tillis and a flurry upstairs. Tillis moved well and worked on the outside in Round 6, while Tyson landed with a few body shots to close the round. Tillis outworked Tyson for much of Round 7, before Tyson came on in the latter part and opened a cut above Tillis's left eye with a right hand. The cut was handled well by Tillis's corner and did not affect him or bleed noticeably for the remainder of the bout. Neither man landed a punch of note in Round 8, as Tillis likely earned the round with output. Tillis continued to outwork Tyson in Round 9. He moved well and landed from the outside, as Tyson did very little offensively. Tillis controlled much of the tenth round, before Tyson came in the seconds. The two exchanged as the bell rang with each man landing a punch after the bell.


  • "I'm going to give James "Quick" Tillis credit. He's been in there with a tough young bull and he's fought harder and stronger really than I've ever seen him fight in his career including the time he fought for the title. He's showing something a lot of people have questioned over his career and that is his heart. He's cut. He's taken some brutal punches and he is fighting back, moving, and still trying to win this fight." - Alex Wallau at the beginning of Round 8.
  • "I was looking for one good punch to really hurt him. I knew I was ahead. I was just laying for one clean punch. I wanted to catch him. Mr. Tillis was in superb shape and he put up a great fight. He hit me with some good shots. There's no way he should quit." - Mike Tyson
  • "I've got some pit bull in me, but I ain't got no dog. The name of this game is to hit and not get hit. The last three rounds I was punching and he wasn't. I think he got tired after the fifth round." - James Tillis