Mike Tyson - still the youngest ever boxing world heavyweight champion

Mike Tyson was a fearsome boxer in his day, renowned for his knockout prowess. And he is boxing's youngest ever world heavyweight champion.

Mike Tyson en route to winning his first world heavyweight championship in boxing. (Image: Twitter)

When it comes to the greatest heavyweight boxers of all-time, it’s hard to look beyond Mike Tyson. The man from Brookyln, New York remains till this date one of the most talked-about boxers in the world. And with good reason too.

Tyson, in his prime, was a fearsome knockout artist in a sport that thrived off the thrill of seeing people get hurt. He wasn’t as techincal as many who came before him – although his technique is often underrated.

But he could knock anyone out – and that was the main selling point of a Tyson fight. ‘Iron Mike’ was such a vicious puncher that many of his early bouts ended in either the first or second round.

‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ was, in many ways, a controversial character too. As great as he was inside the ring, he was prone to self-destruction outside of it.

His rivalry with Evander Holyfield saw him bite the latter’s ear. He was also found guilty and imprisoned on a rape charge, a blot on his image no matter what else he does.

But his legacy inside the ring is untouched – even if his prime was short. And with good reason too; Tyson was the undoubted box office draw the sport desperately needed when he did finally come around.

He is also the youngest-ever world heavyweight champion in history – a record that still stands. Indeed, he won the title on this very day in 1986.

With 35 years having passed since, let us look back at a momentous achievement – that is still yet to be bettered.

The background

Mike Tyson began his professional boxing career aged 18 in 1985. Initially the level of boxer he was chosen to face was not that high, for obvious reasons. However, his potential was evident from the start to many within the industry.

That potential soon became clear to fans who got to witness him box. He fought frequently in his first year as a pro, getting in the ring a total of 15 times. And he was gaining noteriety in the sport.

Of his first 28 bouts, he won 26 of them via knockout (KO) or technical knockout (TKO). To make things even better, 16 of those wins came in the first round itself.

He was still a young boy but many saw him as the next great heavyweight champion of the world. As his experience in the sport grew, so did the level of his opponents.

Before long, he was challenging journeymen and former champions. In that regard, his biggest win came against former champion Marvis Frazier.

In his second televised bout, Tyson knocked out Frazier in 30 seconds in the first round itself. This massive win eventually earned him a bout against Alfonso Ratliff in September of 1986.

The stakes in this match, however, were high. A win for Tyson would guarantee him a shot at then-WBC world heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick, who himself had only recently won the title.

To the surprise of no one, Tyson beat Ratliff via a second round TKO. Thus, on November 22 1986, the stage was set for the crowning of boxing’s new king.

Mike Tyson – the next king of boxing is crowned

Watching the bout back today, it appears less of a fight and more of a coronation. And indeed in some ways it was. Tyson was young, healthy and feared nothing and no one.

Berbick, remembered largely as the man who ended Muhammad Ali’s career, was 12 years older than Tyson and not exactly in his prime. Thus, he was installed as an underdog despite being the defending champion.

Once the bout started, it was easy to understand why. Tyson was the aggressor from the off, and even though Berbick managed to land a powerful right, Tyson was unmoved.

To make matters worse, he landed a four-punch combination that sent Berbick flying across the ring. He didn’t go off his feet but the damage was done.

Berbick could not mount any offense and Tyson pounded on him until the bell rang to signal the end of the round. And once Round 2 began, he picked up where he left off.

Almost as soon as the round began, Tyson landed another combination that, this time, floored Berbick. He answered the ref’s call but again, could not land any punches.

Tyson stepped up his assualt and then, on the 2:35 mark of the clock, hit the fight-ending combination that would eventually become his signature move.

He struck Berbick’s body with the right and, before the champ could digest that blow, rocked him with a left uppercut to the head. Berbick fell to the floor again.

Twice he tried to answer the referees call, and twice he failed to do so. The referee called the fight thereafter and awarded the belt to Tyson with a knockout win.

The aftermath

Amazingly, this was not the end of Berbick’s career. He would go on to fight till the year 2000, although he never did compete for the world title ever again.

For Mike Tyson, however, things became complicated. He dominated through the rest of the decade but would get caught up in scandals outside the boxing world.

He served time for being convicted of rape, and gained further infamy for biting off Holyfield’s ear. And while he is fondly remembered, his career probably did not go on to attain the heights it should have.

Still, he’ll always have that night when he became the youngest world heavyweight champion ever.

Sportslumo Desk

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