Today in Sports History- Tyson vs Spinks
On June 27, 1988, heavyweight champ Mike Tyson knocked out Michael Spinks 91 seconds into the first round, the sixth-shortest heavyweight title fight in boxing history. It was the richest fight in boxing history to that point, grossing approximately $70 million, of which Tyson earned a record purse of around $20 million and Spinks $13.5 million.
The severe beat-down Tyson laid on Spinks had the boxing world asking: could anyone beat Iron Mike?
[fight really gets going around 6 minute mark of video]
I gotta say … that video impresses me. We get to see great fighters now like Mayweather or Pacquiao, but they are nothing compared to what Tyson was in his career. And I know Floyd and Manny are both welterweights. I’m referring to the pure dominance. Tyson epitomizes that word. I’ve never see a boxer pack a punch like Iron Mike.
Tyson won his first nineteen professional fights by knockout, fifteen of those coming in the 1st round. In his first attempt at the title, Tyson beat Trevor Berbick for the WBC heavyweight championship. On March 7, 1987, Tyson defeated “Bonecrusher” Smith, a victory that would unify the WBA and WBC heavyweight titles. Already the youngest-ever heavyweight champion, Tyson became the youngest undisputed heavyweight champion in boxing history.
Over the following year (87-88), Tyson defeated four other opponents to hold on his title. In 1988, he handed Larry Holmes the only knockout loss he ever had in 76 fights as a pro. Once Holmes went down, the only boxer considered to have any type of chance against Tyson was Michael Spinks.
Spinks had won Olympic gold in 1976 as a middleweight, and later became the undisputed light heavyweight champ in 1983 with a victory over Dwight Braxton. A couple years passed, and by 85, Spinks was having a tough time finding anybody to fight in the light heavyweight class. He decided to move up a class to heavyweight, and ended up beating Larry Holmes in a 15-round decision.
The two rematched a year later, but the result was the same- Spinks winning. Next up- Tyson vs Spinks. The only way Spinks was going to beat Tyson was by dodging and weaving the quick but powerful blows Tyson was sure to send. The strategy for Tyson would be the same as it always was- attack first, and land some punches to hurt his opponent early.
When the bell rang signaling the start of the fight, Tyson charged like a bull. There was no escape for Spinks, as he dropped to his knees after a left hook to the jaw. He got up though this time, waited through the mandatory eight count, but soon after was knocked unconscious by another left hook followed by a right hand. Spinks was knocked out 91 seconds.
What makes this moment even better was that Tyson’s trainer, Kevin Rooney, said before the fight that he had bet his share on Mike winning on a first-round knockout.
There was no doubt that this was the peak of Tyson’s dominance. Unfortunately his reign didn’t last too much longer, and now we talk more about his acting or music instead of how powerful of an athlete he really was. Oh yeah, in case anyone cares- Michael Spinks never fought again.
Check out this NY Times article from 1988.