Trevor Berbick vs. Mike Tyson

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Mike Tyson 221 lbs beat Trevor Berbick 218 lbs by TKO at 2:35 in round 2 of 12

By Phil Berger, The New York Times, November 23, 1986

LAS VEGAS, Nev., Nov. 22— Mike Tyson made history tonight.

The 20-year-old slugger from Catskill, N.Y., became the youngest heavyweight champion ever when he stopped Trevor Berbick at 2:35 of the second round of a scheduled 12-round bout.

In taking away Berbick's World Boxing Council crown, Tyson knocked Berbick down twice, both times in the second round, pounding him so hard that he had Berbick reeling across the ring at the end in a nearly comic loop-de-loop.

The damage in the second round started with Tyson knocking Berbick to the canvas with a series of blows that ended with a left hook. Berbick dropped backward onto the canvas but rose quickly and signaled Mills Lane, the referee, that he was all right.

But he was not all right. He showed it by trying to tie up Tyson in clinches and slow him down. He even hit the powerful challenger on a break and drew a warning from Lane.

The end came late in the round when Tyson's left hook landed on Berbick's temple. Berbick, experiencing a delayed reaction, finally fell onto the seat of his shorts.

Trying to regain his feet, Berbick stumbled toward the ropes near his corner and fell. His arms flailed as he sought to right himself. He lurched back toward where he had fallen originally, in the center of the ring, and fell again.

Once more he sought to get to his feet, stumbling toward a neutral corner. By now Lane's count had reached 9, and Berbick had climbed off the canvas and onto his feet.

But after Lane took a quick look at Berbick he threw his arms around him and stopped the bout.

Tyson's co-manager, Jim Jacobs, said that Tyson's first words to him as Jacobs climbed into the ring were: "Do you think Cus would have liked that?"

The new champion's reference was to Cus D'Amato, the veteran trainer and manager to whom Tyson was paroled in 1980, at age 14, from a juvenile detention facility in upstate New York.

D'Amato took Tyson into the 14-room Victorian house in which he lived in Catskill and became a force in the youth's life, educating him as a fighter and as a person. Eventually, D'Amato became the fighter's legal guardian. He died of pneumonia at age 77 last November. By then, Tyson regarded him as his father.

In the ring after the bout, Tyson said that he had dedicated the fight to D'Amato.

Still in the ring, Tyson told his corner: "I'm the youngest heavyweight champion of the world and I'm going to be the oldest." Tyson has now won all 28 of his fights, 26 by knockout.

In becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history, Tyson, who turned 20 years old on June 30, broke the record previously held by Floyd Patterson. Patterson was 21 years 11 months old when he knocked out Archie Moore in November 1956 to win the heavyweight title. Like Tyson, Patterson was trained by D'Amato.

Berbick never had a chance against Tyson, who dominated him from the opening bell. "It was my best fight," said Tyson afterward. "I was so intense. I was out for blood. I refused to be beat. I couldn't be denied tonight."

For his part, Berbick seemed tight and unsure of himself. Jacobs attributed it to "the Joe Louis syndrome."

"I believe sincerely," said Jacobs, "that Mike creates an aura of invincibility. I have watched Trevor Berbick on tapes. And this Trevor Berbick was nothing like the Trevor Berbick I have watched. He fought as if he was in slow motion."

Tyson now moves on in the Home Box Office heavyweight unification series. He is scheduled to meet the winner of the Dec. 12 match between Tim Witherspoon, the World Boxing Association champion, and Tony Tubbs, the challenger. The bout between the W.B.C. and W.B.A. champions is to take place here March 7, it was announced earlier this week.

The winner of that bout would move to the unification final against the International Boxing Federation champion, Michael Spinks, in a fight expected to be staged in May.

Tyson turned pro in March 1985 and quickly acquired a reputation as a devastating puncher. He won his first 19 fights by knockouts, and while most of those victories came against obscure opponents like Trent Singleton, Sterling Benjamin and John Alderson, the authority with which he finished his foes excited boxing fans.

Eventually, Tyson became a news media phenomenon and was given more established opponents to fight. While he did not knock out all of them - there were, for instance, successive 10-round decisions over James (Quick) Tillis and Mitch (Blood) Green this past May - he scored his share of knockouts, too. Jesse Ferguson, Marvis Frazier, Jose Ribalta and Alfonzo Ratliff all were recent knockout victims of Tyson's.

Berbick, like Tyson, spoke to reporters after the bout. The loser's skin was reddened beneath and to the side of his right eye.

He called Tyson a very good puncher, saying, "He's quick and he punches very hard."

Tyson, who weighed 221 1/4 pounds, reportedly earned $1.5 million for the fight. The defeated champion, who weighed 218 1/2 pounds, got $2.1 million. Berbick, a 33-year-old Jamaican who lives in Miramar, Fla., is now 31-5-1. [1]


  • The fight was billed as "Judgement Day."
  • This was Berbick's first defense of the WBC Heavyweight Championship. He had outpointed Pinklon Thomas to win the title in Las Vegas on March 22, 1986.
  • Tyson was rated as the No. 1 heavyweight contender by both the WBC and WBA.
  • Berbick claimed to be 32 years old. However, the press kit for the fight said he was 33, and The Ring Record Book listed him as 34.
  • Three days before the fight, after experiencing breathing problems, Berbick visited four doctors before he could get respiratory medication that would be approved by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
  • Two days before the fight, District Court Judge Del Guy granted Thomas A. Prendergast a writ of attachment for $495,124.36 against Berbick's purse, contingent on a hearing tentatively scheduled for the following February. Prendergast, a Texas promoter, claimed Berbick had breached a contract by pulling out of a fight against Tony Perea in 1982.
  • Tyson went into this fight suffering from gonorrhea. In his 2013 autobiography, Undisputed Truth, Tyson stated: "I looked at my underpants a day before the fight and I noticed a discharge. I had the clap. I didn't know if I had contracted it from a prostitute or a filthy young lady." He was given an antibiotic shot by a doctor. "Because of the antibiotic shot, I was dripping like a Good Humor bar in July," Tyson wrote." But I didn't care; I was there to nail Berbick."
  • Berbick opened as a 6-1 underdog, but the odds had dropped to 3-1 by the time of the fight. He had been a 6½-1 underdog when he defeated Pinklon Thomas to win the title.
  • Tyson was unimpressed with Berbick. "There's nothing he has to fight me with," Tyson said.
  • "I'm looking to take him out by the seventh round," Berbick stated.
  • "Trevor's got to try to hurt him early," said Eddie Futch, who trained Berbick for his title-winning effort against Pinklon Thomas. "He's got to make Tyson respect him."
  • Berbick hired Angelo Dundee as his trainer after he and Eddie Futch failed to reach a financial agreement for the Tyson fight.
  • Both boxers wore black trunks. Knowing that Tyson always wore black, Angelo Dundee had Berbick choose black. Tyson, as the challenger, was obliged to select a different color. Instead, he opted for his customary black and was fined $5,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
  • Tyson entered the fight not having boxed in two and a half months, which was his longest layoff at the time.
  • There was a sellout crowd of 8,800.
  • Among the celebrities in attendance were actors Kirk Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Eddie Murphy, Rob Lowe, and Tony Danza. Boxing dignitaries in the crowd included Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, Archie Moore, Thomas Hearns, and Hector Camacho.
  • Muhammad Ali, who was sent into retirement by Berbick five years earlier, was introduced in the ring before the fight. Afterwards, Ali told Tyson, "Kick his ass for me."
  • "The key in this fight for Tyson is to be patiently aggressive, not to fling himself into clinches as he has done," HBO commentator Larry Merchant said before the opening bell. "The key for Berbick, in my judgement, is to hold him off, smother Tyson and hope for a long fight that wears him out."
  • At the end of the first round, Berbick stuck his tongue out at Tyson as he walked to his corner.
  • Berbick returned to a chaotic corner after the first round. Trainer Angelo Dundee yelled at one of the seconds to put an icepack on Berbick's next and then screamed, "Where's the fucking sponge?"
  • After knocking out Berbick, Tyson kissed co-manager Jim Jacobs on the lips.
  • "Mike Tyson fought as perfect a fight as a man of his type of ability could possibly fight," Larry Merchant said. "There is no praise high enough for Mike Tyson."
  • "I made a silly mistake," Berbick said. "I tried to prove my manhood with him in the early rounds."
  • "My record will last for immortality," Tyson said of becoming the youngest boxer ever to win a portion of the World Heavyweight Championship. "It will never be broken." His record still stands to this day.

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