Mike Tyson vs. James (Buster) Douglas
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Mike Tyson 220 lbs lost to James Douglas 231 lbs by KO at 1:22 in round 10 of 12
- Date: 1990-02-11
- Location: Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
- Referee: Octavio Meyran
- Judge: Ken Morita 87-86
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- Judge: Larry Rozadilla 82-88
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- Judge: Masakazu Uchida 86-86
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- Promoters: Don King, Akihiko Honda (Teiken Promotions)
- Ring Announcer: Jimmy Lennon Jr.
- Commission: Japan Boxing Commission
- WBC supervisor: Elias Ghanem
- WBA supervisor: Manuel Virgilio Aizprua
- World Boxing Council Heavyweight Title (10th defense by Tyson)
- World Boxing Association Heavyweight Title (9th defense by Tyson)
- International Boxing Federation Heavyweight Title (7th defense by Tyson)
- On Site Poster
- Sports Illustrated Cover
- Entering the fight against Douglas, Tyson was already scheduled to face Evander Holyfield, the No. 1 contender of the WBA, WBC and IBF, on June 18 in Atlantic City, Jersey. Tyson was guaranteed $22 million, the largest guarantee ever for a boxer at the time. Holyfield, who was ringside for Tyson vs. Douglas, was guaranteed $11 million.
- Jimmy Vaccaro, who ran the race and sports book at The Mirage Hotel & Casino, said: "Nobody thought Douglas had a chance. So the question was, 'What do you make the line?' My initial instinct was to make it 12-1, but I realized we'd get killed with Tyson money. So I made it 27-1. Right away, someone bet $54,000 to win $2,000, so I upped it to 32-1. A guy from California comes in and bet $93,000 to win $3,000. I can’t find anyone willing to take Douglas. So now, I make it 37-1, and it stayed there for a while. I think one guy bet $1,000 on Douglas. Now it’s three weeks before the fight, and I said we’re going to 42-1. The night of the fight, it’s still 42-1."
- Douglas' mother suffered a stroke and on died on January 18, 23 days before the fight. "She was his centerpiece," J.D. McCauley, Douglas' trainer and uncle, said at the time. "I think, if anything, James will turn this into a positive. I really believe that." Those around Douglas sensed a new resolve when he went back into training after his mother's funeral. He was dedicated like never before.
- Four days before the fight, Dave Anderson of the New York Times wrote the following:
- Considering his competition, the only person who can beat Tyson is Tyson himself. By not training. By not caring. By not surrounding himself with experienced cornermen. Chances are, Tyson will quickly swat James (Buster) Douglas into submission. . . . Even so, reports from Tokyo of Tyson's training are enough to question if the champion is sabotaging his own reign. While sparring with Greg Page two weeks ago, he was floored by a right hand. Over the weekend he was described as "sluggish" in another sparring session.
- Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch, Douglas' hometown newspaper, was the only sports reporter who predicted that Douglas would defeat Tyson. He picked Douglas to win because: (1) Douglas loved his mother (2) Douglas hated Tyson and his bullying tactics. "Who knows where those combined forces will take James Douglas tonight?" May wrote on the day of the fight. "To the boxing upset of all time, a win over undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson?"
- Two of the judges tried their best to rob Douglas of victory that night, the Japanese judges Ken Morita who had the fight 86-87 to Tyson and Masakazu Uchida who had it even at 86-86. The only judge who scored it properly was Larry Rozadilla who rightly gave Douglas every round (88-82) with the exception of the 8th where Tyson scored a knockdown over Douglas.
- Douglas was ranked No. 2 by the IBF, No. 3 by the WBC and No. 4 by the WBA.
- Tyson's purse was $6 million, and Douglas' was $1.3 million.
- There was an estimated crowd of 40,000.
- The fight took place on Sunday morning in Tokyo to accommodate the live Saturday night HBO broadcast in the United States. (Japan is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone of the U.S.)
- Douglas controlled the fight from the beginning, working behind a strong jab on the outside and tying up Tyson whenever the champion got inside. This was Tyson's third fight without Kevin Rooney, his long-time trainer, and the incompetence of his new trainers, Aaron Snowell and Jay Bright, was never more evident. Tyson's left eye started to swell by the fifth round, but Tyson's corner didn't have an enswell, a standard piece of equipment for any corner, so Snowell filled a latex glove with ice and put that on Tyson's eye between rounds. Teddy Atlas, Tyson's former amateur trainer, said, "Those two guys couldn’t train a fish to swim.” With six seconds left in the eighth round, Tyson dropped Douglas with a right uppercut. Douglas got up at the count of nine, and that was the end of the round. Douglas regained control in the ninth round and wobbled Tyson with a left. In the tenth round, Douglas hurt Tyson with a right uppercut, then followed up with a combination, finishing with a left that put Tyson down for the first time in his career. Tyson put his knocked-out mouthpiece in backwards and tried to get up, but his legs were too wobbly. Referee Octavio Meyran waved the fight over and wrapped his arms around the rubbery-legged Tyson.
- After the fight, promoter Don King attempted to have the result voided, claiming that the referee had given Douglas a "long count" when he was down in the eighth round. King said video replays showed Douglas was down for more than 10 seconds. The IBF recognized Douglas as champion, but the WBC and WBA withheld recognition of Douglas' victory pending a review. WBC president Jose Sulaiman said his organization would hold a hearing on February 18, and WBA president Gilberto Mendoza said his group would meet within ten days. There was a tremendous backlash against the WBC and WBA, and on February 13, the two sanctioning bodies announced that they would recognize Douglas as champion. It was later learned that the British Boxing Board of Control and several state commissions in the United States had threatened to withdraw from the WBC if the organization failed to recognize Douglas' victory.
- Douglas filed a lawsuit to break his promotional contract with King and signed a conditional contract to make his first title defense at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Douglas claimed that King had breached their contract when he tried to have Douglas' win against Tyson overturned. An out of court settlement gave King the right to promote a Douglas-Tyson rematch, but Douglas would first defend against Evander Holyfield at The Mirage, a promotion in which King would have no direct pecuniary interest.
- Tyson vs. Douglas was named Upset of the Year by The Ring.
- The Associated Press and United Press International named Douglas' upset of Tyson the sports story of the year.
- On the 25th anniversary of the fight, Dan Rafael of ESPN wrote that "it is widely hailed as the biggest upset in boxing history and one of the greatest upsets in sports history."