Sports fans love when an exciting flash knockout ends a boxing match or mixed martial arts fight. Some may pretend that they are horrified by such events, but the reality is that we can’t get enough of seeing highlights and replays of knockouts. That Mike Tyson was often one swing of his right or left arm away from finishing a fight made him “The Baddest Man On The Planet.” Ultimate Fighting Championship title holder Ronda Rousey is a household name and an international star because she has the ability to take an opponent out before the bell sounds for the conclusion of the first round of an encounter.
Long before Rousey was known to anybody who follows MMA and the UFC, Tyson was putting opponents away with knockouts that earned him headlines in newspapers and that made him the ideal boxing star for shows such as ESPN’s SportsCenter. The truth of the matter is that Tyson was actually ahead of his time. Just imagine that type of buzz that Tyson would have generated on social media websites had he come along 15 years after he made his way through the heavyweight division. It is not crazy to suggest that Tyson would have been the first sports superstar of YouTube because of his greatest knockouts.
The list of the top 10 greatest Mike Tyson knockouts includes fights from his first and second runs as a professional boxer. First showcased are knockouts that occurred from the early days of Tyson’s career, well before anybody could have said with any certainty that Tyson was going to become an icon who had a video game named after him and who would be recognized three decades later as one of the best knockout artists in history. Last but certainly not least is the knockout that cemented Tyson as, for a time, boxing’s greatest champion. The sport could use the next edition of “Kid Dynamite,” if one is out there.
10. Tyson Versus Hector Mercedes
Tyson was but a raw youngster beginning his pro career when he entered the ring to face Hector Mercedes in 1985. One has to assume that Mercedes was not fully prepared for what he was about to encounter on that night. Tyson was clearly a green fighter not yet ready for the bright lights or for cable television, but he already had nasty punching power that could down just about any opponent. Mercedes learned that the hard way, as a barrage of body and head punches sent Tyson’s opponent to a single knee. Mercedes decided that he had enough of Tyson. Smart move, sir.
9. Tyson Versus Trent Singleton
The second fight in the pro career of Tyson was far more impressive than his first. It was obvious from the opening seconds of that battle that Trent Singleton was over-matched, and he was taken down by a Tyson punch before some had settled into their seats to watch the young Tyson. That would not be the first time that Singleton would fall to the mat before the referee saved him from himself and from an oncoming Tyson who was only going to relent when Singleton was knocked out. More greatness was to come from Tyson, of course, but one could begin to see how special he was going to be after his second fight.
8. Tyson Versus Buster Mathis
Unlike some fighters who were victims of Tyson during his legendary career, Buster Mathis managed to make it to the third round of his fight versus the hard-hitting puncher. Mathis can always brag about that. A shot from Tyson’s right hand initially stunned Mathis, who attempted to stall and run out the clock to survive the round. Mathis was not able to achieve this mission, as a combination of blows from Tyson sent him to his back. Mathis, to his credit, tried to get back to his feet before the ten count, but he was unable to do so before the referee called the bout.
7. Tyson Versus Larry Holmes
There is no nice way to put it. Watching Mike Tyson demolish an overwhelmed Larry Holmes would make even a diehard fight fan feel a bit uncomfortable. Holmes was, in the closing seconds of the fight, seemingly attempting to survive more so than he was trying to win, and Tyson patiently stalked his prey as he waited for an opening. That opening arrived in the fourth round, and Tyson connected with a devastating blow to Holmes’ head. Holmes very well may have been out cold before he hit the mat, and the referee did not even bother wasting his time with a ten count.
6. Tyson Versus Henry Tillman
Henry Tillman was the first man to face Tyson after Tyson shockingly lost the heavyweight championship of the world to Buster Douglas in what is still known as one of the greatest upsets in boxing and fight history. Spoiler alert: The night did not go well for Mr. Tillman. Tillman survived blows to the face and seemed to be on his way to returning to the corner at the end of the first round until Tyson delivered a crushing blow to the forehead. Down went Tillman, and down stayed Tillman as the ref counted to ten. That count was a formality, as Tillman was clearly knocked out.
5. Tyson Versus Frank Bruno
One had to have a significant amount of bravery to step into the ring to face Tyson during his prime. Frank Bruno did so twice. That man may have deserved a medal for his toughness. He at least deserved better than what he received from Tyson in 1996. Bruno escaped certain doom in the first two rounds of the fight, but fate caught up to him in the third; well, fate and a body blow followed by a hook caught up to him. Bruno managed to remain on his feet only with the assistance of the ropes, but there was little question that he was out before the referee stepped in to save the day.
4. Tyson Versus Marvis Frazier
The son of famous boxer Joe Frazier was hoping to continue a legacy when he attempted to upset Tyson in 1986. That try ended nearly immediately after it began. “It did not last 20 seconds,” was the commentary after the referee had called off the matter before he even finished his ten count. No ten count was necessary in this instance, as Frazier was put into dreamland by a pair of uppercuts. Frazier had remained standing after the second blow, though, and so he was struck with two other head shots until his body collapsed into the corner. It is one of the more famous knockouts of Tyson’s career.
3. Tyson Versus Trevor Berbick
Both Tyson and Trevor Berbick were wearing all black when Berbick defended the WBC Championship in 1986. Both were pro boxers. That was about all that Tyson and Berbick had in common that day. Just as well-known as is Berbick being knocked out by Tyson are the scenes of Berbick desperately trying to climb back to his feet during the referee’s count. Berbick instead fell into the ropes and then onto his back. He likely did not know that the fight had been ended by the referee by the time that he was able to stand. Even then, Berbick still needed help from the ref to remain upright.
2. Tyson Versus Carl Williams
Carl Williams had a tremendous boxing nickname: “The Truth.” That did not save him when he fought Tyson in 1989. Tyson was a man on a mission when he entered the ring, and Williams soon learned that he was to be just another victim of a Tyson knockout. It was a brutal left hand that served as the birth of this Tyson KO, one that nearly knocked Williams clean through the ropes and out of the ring. Williams tried to recover enough that he could continue, but he was unable to even look straight ahead at the referee during the count. Williams appeared to be surprised that the fight had been stopped, probably because he was not quite sure where he was at.
1. Tyson Versus Michael Spinks
Michael Spinks probably should have known that trouble was coming when Tyson nearly galloped out of his corner at the start of the fight. In all fairness, though, Spinks did not have all that long to think about it before he was on his back. Spinks was rocked by Tyson punches early in the first round, and a left hook to the head followed by a body shot forced Spinks down to a knee. He would have been wise to have remained on that knee through the ten count. Spinks instead rose to fight again, but one final right hand to the head from Tyson put him down for good. Tyson proved to the world that he was, at the time, the greatest heavyweight boxer in the world.