Mike Tyson was, when he emerged onto the national and worldwide scene, an athlete unlike anything that the majority of casual sports fans had witnessed. Well before Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar Ronda Rousey was wowing crowds with quick finishes that made her a household name, Tyson was knocking opponents out with a combination of speed and power that made him the so-called “Baddest Man On The Planet.” Tyson was “Kid Dynamite” who could end the fight in the blink of an eye, a boxing draw who still gets mentioned during pay-per-view events and whenever a fighter is on the cusp of being a star of boxing or mixed martial arts.
Fans could not get enough of the younger version of Tyson who rose up the ranks and ultimately won the World Heavyweight Championship. We tried to see if we could be the one to dethrone Tyson in the iconic video game Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!, a title that sold over a million copies in part because it was associated with the iconic boxer. Those ESPN specials showcasing the fastest and greatest knockouts in the career of Tyson are still featured on television specials to this day. That speaks to the legacy of the man who was the star of those fights nearly three decades ago.
The debut of Tyson, and the first-round knockout of Hector Mercedes. Tyson knocking Trevor Berbick out for the WBA Championship. Tyson making short work of Michael Spinks en route to winning yet another title. Those famous interview segments that were memorable, intense and even somewhat unintentionally humorous. All of them are worthy of being mentioned among the greatest moments of Mike Tyson's career, and all of them left memories of a fighter who has never been replaced in the hearts and minds of some fans. Face it: The sport is still, in 2015, looking for the next Tyson.
Every story has a beginning, and the beginning of Tyson's professional career included a boxer who is, these days, only known for being the first victim of “Iron Mike.” Hector Mercedes stood tall and did what he could against Tyson until he suffered a barrage of brutal blows to the head and body. A beaten Mercedes, likely reading the writing on the wall, took a knee in the corner after suffering repeated shots from Tyson. That was maybe the smartest move that Mercedes made as a pro. Tyson had his hand raised in victory, and his run toward history was underway.
The career of Mike Tyson has branched out beyond the ring. His scene in The Hangover may be, to date, his most famous moment outside of the ring. Tyson singing “In The Air Tonight” before delivering a knockout blow had viewers in theaters and those watching the movie at home literally laughing out loud during the scene. Tyson has, over the years, been involved in a plethora of entertainment projects. Another such instance will be mentioned later in this piece. He was no longer the “Baddest Man On The Planet,” but that the producers of that movie chose to use Tyson tells you all you need to know about the reputation that he still has nearly 30 years after he began his historic career.
A Genius.com user offered his contribution to society when he jotted down, per his ears, the words that Tyson spoke during one of his most famous post-fight interview:
I'm the best ever. I'm the most brutal and vicious, and most ruthless champion there's ever been. There's no one can stop me. Lennox is a conqueror? No, I'm Alexander, he's no Alexander. I'm the best ever. There's never been anybody as ruthless. I'm Sonny Liston, I'm Jack Dempsey. There's no one like me. I'm from their cloth. There's no one that can match me. My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his children. Praise be to Allah.
I am sure that Frank Bruno had the best of intentions when he stepped inside of the boxing ring to defend his championship against Tyson in 1996. It took Bruno roughly one round of being in the ring with Tyson, who was attempting to reclaim his career following a prison stint for a rape conviction, to realize that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tyson thoroughly demolished Bruno in less than three rounds, turning the clock back with a victory that had some wondering if he really was the Tyson of old. We would, of course, learn later on that Tyson was, in fact, human.
Scoff all you want about this making the list of the greatest moments of Mike Tyson's career. The World Wrestling Federation was struggling to keep up with World Championship Wrestling, so much so that the WWF could have been out of business had things gone horribly wrong. Enter Tyson, who had a memorable segment with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin that included those two needing to be separated, per storyline, inside of the wrestling ring. This created buzz and publicity for the WWF, and it was a moment that helped propel the company ahead of WCW in what was known as the “Monday Night Wars.”
This fight is now, two decades after that fact, famous for being the last time that rapper Tupac Shakur appeared in public before he was brutally gunned down and murdered. Tyson came out swinging right out of the gates, almost as if he knew that Seldon would topple as soon as he was hit. That is exactly what happened, and the fight was so controversial that fans in attendance were chanting “Fix!” even as Seldon was being interviewed after he had been knocked out. Seldon was, to his credit, carrying the WBA Championship heading into that fight, and he had all kinds of reasons to stand tall and try to beat Tyson on that night.
“Body punches. I was hitting him with body punches. I heard him, actually, he was crying in there; making woman gestures.”
This is how Tyson described victim Tyrell Biggs, who could not hang with the champ for long inside of the ring. Whether or not Biggs was actually near tears as he was being battered by Tyson does not matter, as society has chosen to embrace the old mantra: When we get to the point where the legend becomes fact, we print the legend. Apologies to Mr. Biggs, but he is now known as the guy who was made to cry by “Iron” Mike.
Trevor Berbick had one purpose when he stepped inside of the ring to take on Tyson in 1986: Hand over the WBC Heavyweight Championship to the better fighter. Berbick, some might forget, was a respected boxer at that stage of his career, but he simply was no match for the runaway freight train that was a young Tyson. Berbick probably deserved some award for managing to stand on his feet for as long as he did, but he could only defy time and gravity for so long before one final left hook put the matter to bed for good. Tyson became the youngest man ever to win a major boxing Heavyweight Championship on that night.
Carl Williams had the nickname “The Truth” during his boxing career. The truth about his encounter with Tyson was that Mike nearly knocked Williams clear out of the ring with the left hook that was delivered less than 90 seconds into the fight. Williams should be praised for trying to convince the referee that he could continue to take Tyson on. He was, unfortunately for his title hopes, clearly not with it after getting back to his feet, so much so that he could barely look the ref in the face. Williams was probably still a little out even while standing. That is the truth.
Remember when Michael Spinks allegedly had a chance to be the guy who would defeat Tyson? Those hopes were dashed as soon as Tyson began his intimidating walk toward the ring. Tyson, as explained in the fight commentary, showed “no fear” and “no respect at all” in taking it to Spinks as soon as the opening bell rung. Spinks was seemingly afraid to throw a punch because of Tyson's power and counter-punching abilities, and Tyson twice floored the over-matched opponent. Spinks was unable to answer the ten-count a second time, as he was knocked out cold by Tyson in 91 seconds.