Today marks 26 years to the day since Mike Tyson knocked out Trevor Berbick to become the youngest heavyweight world champion of all time – a record that no fighter has even come close to breaking, even after all this time.
Tyson was just 20 years old when he fought Berbick for the WBC heavyweight title, and hadn’t even entered his third year as a professional. However, his brief time in the pro ranks had been fruitful. Legendary trainer Cus D’amato kept his charge freakishly active by today’s standards, with the Berbick contest being his 28th outing in just over 20 months.
‘Iron’ Mike had been making short work of all comers, and poor old Trevor Berbick would be no exception. In just the second round Tyson floored the defending champion twice and, although he gamely attempted to return to his feet, the young contender’s assault had rendered him incapable of doing so. And thus a new champion was crowned and a new, definitive era had begun.
Tyson went onto collect the remaining two titles in double quick time, prying the WBC and IBF from James Smith and Tony Tucker respectively. Undisputed heavyweight champion of the world at just 21 years of age, many in the sport at the time genuinely regarded Tyson as invincible.
However, in February 1990, that would all change. At the Tokyo Dome of all places, James ‘Buster’ Douglas, an unheralded contender who many bookmakers didn’t even bother to price up, shocked the world. After himself rising from the canvas two rounds prior, Douglas unleashed a vicious combination to the Tyson jaw, that left the international icon unable to beat referee Octavio Meyran’s count. In what is still regarded as the biggest upset in the history of boxing, Tyson was defeated.
The Douglas loss sparked the beginning of a tumultuous time for Tyson. A year later, he was imprisoned for just under three years. Although he returned to action and had blockbuster fights with Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, Tyson was never the same fighter.
Tyson retired from boxing in 2005 with a record of 50 wins and 6 losses. His career is somewhat paradoxical one – he goes down an all time great and his record of youngest heavyweight champion ever may never be broken, yet many who witnessed him in his prime believe he still wasted much of his potential.