10. Lou Savarese
At a damp Hampden Park in Glasgow, Savarese hit the floor – and so did the referee.
“A left hook landed bang on the button, Savarese’s body sagged and his hands dropped,” remembered referee John Coyle. “I didn’t want Tyson to have any free shots, so I called: ‘Stop boxing’ and physically stood between them. I was about to say: ‘Sorry, kid’ to Savarese to console him and then wallop! I felt a crunch on my shoulder and I was down.”
Tyson was so intent on smashing Savarese into oblivion that he simply ignored Coyle’s demand to stop boxing and carried on his attacks until he spotted his cornermen entering the ring.
“I must have stopped hundreds of fights,” said Coyle, “and it was the only fight when it was the winner who wanted to carry on! Tyson really wanted to put the guy away. I had to stop him doing what he wanted to do – and he took some convincing!”
9. Tony Tubbs
The blubbery, quick-fisted Tubbs was a former WBA champion – and for one of the judges, he did enough to win the opening round. Tubbs then came apart dramatically after Tyson connected with a left hook in the second round.
8. Larry Holmes
Tyson ruthlessly dealt with the 38 year-old former champion, who learned the folly of chasing a young man’s dreams on old legs. After three rounds of being mauled and bashed up, Holmes did start the fourth round well, bouncing on the balls of his feet and jabbing like he did in his prime.
But then Tyson caught up with him and put him away.
7. Marvis Frazier
’30-Second Warning’ read the front-page headline in ‘Boxing News’ after Tyson’s 25th pro fight. Frazier was desperate to be more than the son of one the greatest heavyweights of the modern era – but he was brutally exposed in just 30 seconds by Tyson. Frazier shook his head afterwards.
“Mike, I think you must have got in the ring with a sledgehammer.”
6. Reggie Gross
Sensational action here . . . Midway through the opening round, Gross really went for Tyson and for a moment or two, ringsiders wondered if Tyson had felt an uppercut. He answered with a perfect left hook.
5. Michael Johnson
“Everybody’s on about his power,” said Johnson ahead of Tyson’s ninth pro fight.
“But how will he react when I land my best punches? That’s the sixty four thousand dollar question.” It went unanswered. Tyson had Johnson over with a left hook to the body – then wiped him out with a right-hand thunderbolt.
4. Pinklon Thomas
Thomas was a skilled former WBC champion, but couldn’t keep Tyson off him. Tyson wobbled him in the sixth with a left hook – and opened up with 15 unanswered punches to put him on his back and out of the fight.
3. Francois Botha
US commentators were hinting Tyson was shot as he fell behind early on to the South African known as ‘The White Buffalo.’ Tyson was, they reckoned, struggling to land a clean punch and then in the dying seconds of the fifth round, he let go a right hand.
2. Trevor Berbick
The bonkers Berbick had finally sent Muhammad Ali into retirement and legend has it, ‘The Greatest’ told Tyson on his way to the ring: ‘Kick his ass for me.” Tyson didn’t disappoint. In the second round he hit Berbick with a short left hook that left him flopping around the canvas like a toddler in a playpen.
At 20 years, four months and two days old, Tyson was the youngest world heavyweight champion in history, the US commentator stating at the end: “It’s over . . . that’s all – and we have a new era in boxing.”
1. Michael Spinks
This was huge. The undisputed champion, Tyson, against the lineal champion, Spinks. Both were unbeaten too. Tyson was 34-0, Spinks 31-0. Spinks had moved up from light-heavyweight, where he had been undisputed champion, but still, there were those who thought that with his ring craft, he had a chance in a fight billed as ‘Once and For All.’ Turned out, he had no chance. It was all over in 91 seconds.
The right-hand finisher was compared to Rocky Marciano’s Suzy Q piledriver that separated Jersey Joe Walcott from the world heavyweight championship more than three decades earlier. Still only 22, this may have been Tyson at his peak.