One of the most menacing fighters of the last century, “Iron” Mike Tyson, delivered an emphatic first round knockout just over 30 years ago in, up until that point, his biggest fight of his career.
The night was June 27th 1988. The site was the Convention Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as Tyson defended his Undisputed Heavyweight Championship against former Undisputed Light Heavyweight and Olympic Gold Medalist, Michael Spinks.
Spinks, the younger brother of fellow Heavyweight Champ Leon Spinks, was regarded as the “Lineal” Heavyweight Champion for having taken the titles off of Larry Holmes in 1985. That included beating Holmes in a rematch.
However, Spinks was stripped of the belts over the course of the next two years. The final time was his IBF Championship which he gave up for not fighting #1 contender Tony Tucker in 1987.
Instead, Spinks fought and knockout Gerry Cooney making $4 million and keeping his unbeaten record intact.
As we wrote previously, Tyson destroyed much of the heavyweight division in 1987 and early ’88, including capturing all three major organization belts to become Undisputed Champion.
Spinks came off of a one-year layoff and was a decided 4 to 1 betting underdog, while getting $13.5 million guaranteed to fight Tyson. Tyson who was at the height of his dominance, received an all-time record guarantee of $22 million for the fight.
Previous to becoming president three decades later, Donald Trump and his Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino landed the fight with an $11 million dollar bid. Between the 21,000 in attendance and the over half million pay-per-view buys and hundreds of closed-circuit locations selling tickets, Tyson-Spinks generated revenue of nearly $60 million.
Now, as for the actual fight itself? it took less time than what it probably did for you to read the paragraphs above.
Tyson came in with a 34-0 record in 30 KOs, immediately jumped all over Spinks, 31-0, landing several hard rights and lefts along the ropes.
Tyson also connected in a inside exchange with a left elbow and referee Frank Cappuccino stopped the bout momentarily to warned him his words to “knock it off, Mike. Knock it off!”
Now, a minute into the opening round, Tyson landed a solid right hand that backed Spinks across the ropes and sent a roar through the crowd.
Spinks to his credit tried to fight back but swung wildly with a right hook and missed. Tyson leaped in with a big left uppercut from followed by a right to the rib cage. Spinks went down on all fours for a couple of seconds, which was the first knockdown of his professional career.
However, even though he rose and took the mandatory 8 count, the fight was over seconds later, as Tyson stormed in. Spinks missed him with a right hook and Tyson smashed the challenger with a right hand on the right side of his head.
Spins flopped backwards slamming his head on the canvas and laid motionless for several seconds as Cappuccino proceeded to count him out.
The official time was 1:31 seconds of the first round and what the fourth quickest knockout in heavyweight title history up until that time.
In the end, the months of hype and all of the millions of dollars flowing in resulted in a “fizzle out” of drama and excitement, but it only led to the legend of Tyson and his devastating persona growing.
Spinks never fought again announcing his retirement at the age of 32 just a month later.
Tyson went on to dominate the heavyweight division for another year-and-a-half beating Frank Bruno and Carl “The Truth” Williams in his next two fights in 1989 running his record to 37-0.
However, it all came unraveled in February of 1990 when James “Buster” Douglas upset him in Tokyo, Japan, by 10th round KO for the heavyweight title.
Tyson would go to prison and eventually regain the bells before Evander Holyfield knocked him out in November of 1996 in Las Vegas. And then, Holyfield successfully defended the titles seven months later, when Tyson melted down and got himself disqualified for biting a piece of Holyfield’s ear off.
Tyson never got even a portion of the championship back failing in his final attempt, when Lennox Lewis knocked him out in 2002 in Memphis, TN.
Tyson finished his career with a 50-6 record and went into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011.
And, on a June night in the late 80s, he blitzed Michael Spinks in a minute and a half.