Felix Tito Trinidad

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tyson vs. Douglas - An Upset For The Ages

An Upset For The Ages

By: Michael Feliciano

On the morning of February 11, 1990 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, no one had anticipated the events that were about to unfold except for a one James Douglas. Mike Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs) was defending his WBC, WBA and IBF World Heavyweight titles against James “Buster” Douglas (38-6, 25 KOs) and at 42-1 odds, Douglas pulled off the biggest upset in modern boxing history.

By 1990 Mike Tyson was at the apex of the sport and there was no legitimate challenger in the division who had a chance against him. He had been demolishing his opponents without any regard for human life and was only 23 years of age. Since becoming world champion three years earlier, Tyson had developed into somewhat of a mythical figure, an unstoppable beast that ruled boxing with pure fear.

James Douglas fought a perfect fight against Tyson by out-boxing him, using his jab and opening him up for the big right hand. But of all people, why James Douglas, and how did he pull it off?

Douglas was supposed to be another stepping stone for the Tyson who was already in talks to face undefeated Cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield (42-10, 27 KOs) later that year. But for the challenger, no promises lay ahead. There were reports that Tyson was out of shape and that he was not training as hard as usual and was overlooking Douglas. Well if that was the case, no one could hold it against him because everyone else was overlooking him as well. The public and the media just wanted to see another vicious knockout and that is what they all expected. It almost happened in round 8 when Tyson who was already looking tired, knocked Douglas down with a brutal uppercut. But he was up before the referee’s controversial count which ended at nine. The fight continued and Tyson seemed less determined. Douglas kept breaking him down and in round 10 connected with combination that changed history.

This colossal upset was perhaps due to Douglas’ determination to win the title in his mother’s name, (who had died just twenty-three days before the fight) but what sealed the deal was his complete lack of fear for “the baddest man on the planet”. Douglas trained hard, like any professional boxer who expects to have a chance in the game would. He sparred and ran many miles a day, like any fighter who takes his craft seriously. But he chose to step in the ring unafraid and willing, like only a champion can.

That morning the world learned that it was fear that Tyson instilled in other fighters which elevated him to another level. Tyson himself said most fighters were so terrified of him upon entering the ring that he knew he had them beat before a single punch was thrown. But Buster Douglas pulled down the curtain to the Wizard of Oz and knocked out Mike Tyson.

In the end, Douglas would say that he knew he could do it and he also mentioned the one thing that apparently had slipped everyone’s mind; the baddest man on the planet was in fact just a man. Although his reign was short lived Douglas was a great fighter who perhaps only lacked the obsessive determination that other champions had in them. Tyson returned to form a few months later scoring seven knockouts of his next eight fights before going on to lose to Evander Holyfield.

Because of his fearsome dominance and what he meant to boxing and to sports in general, the world will remember Mike Tyson. But no one will ever forget Buster Douglas, the man who stopped the unstoppable Iron Mike Tyson.