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Boxing - Frank Bruno bt Rodolfo Marin , Bath & West Heavyweight  18/2/95
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Frank Bruno beats Rodolfo Marin in the 1st round

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FRANK BRUNO was born on November 16, 1961. He grew up with five siblings in Wandsworth, where his parents had settled after moving from the Caribbean. Riddled by the temptations of petty crime, Bruno found solace in the gym, and from the age of 14 channelled his energies into his muscles.

BY 1980 Bruno had won the ABA heavyweight championship and compiled an amateur record of 20-1.

ON March 17, 1982 Bruno ditched the vested comfort of the amateur ranks and turned professional. His first opponent was Lupe Guerra at the Royal Albert Hall. Bruno won inside a round. Many called it a soft opener for the Londoner, but the Mexican was a popular choice for the talented. Over the next three years Guerra was stopped by up-and-coming Tony Tucker, a past it Jerry Quarry, and the comebacking Leon Spinks.

THE quality of Bruno’s opposition was criticised throughout his career. The first perceived test came in 1983, in his 15th bout, against fading fringe contender, Scott LeDoux. The Canadian had lost in seven rounds to Larry Holmes in a WBC title shot three years before, and did not fight again after Bruno hammered him in three. After the battering LeDoux – who had also faced the wrath of Ron Lyle, Ken Norton, Greg Page, Gerrie Coetzee and Mike Weaver – declared Bruno’s punches the hardest he’d felt.

CRISIS almost struck in October 1983 against muscled American Floyd ‘Jumbo’ Cummings. The Chicago resident held an ageing Joe Frazier to a draw in 1981 but had failed to win – against good opposition – since. As the opening round came to a close, Bruno wobbled badly from a huge right hand and waddled to his corner like a beaten man. To his credit he turned the fight around, winning in the seventh, but his reaction to that early punch haunted him for the rest of his career.

IN May 1984 the power-punching Bruno lost for the first time, throwing away a massive points lead to James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith who halted the Briton in the final round. Bruno had dominated behind his brilliant jab for nine rounds but collapsed under an unexpected barrage in the 10th.

BRUNO’S second defeat came two years later. He had rebuilt following the Bonecrushing, beating Anders Eklund for the European title and former champion Gerrie Coetzee. But in July 1986 WBA champion Tim Witherspoon survived a spirited challenge before stopping Bruno in the 11th session. Again, Bruno displayed frailties under fire.

THE ripped Bruno was immensely popular by now and soon worked his way back into contention. In February 1989 he was matched against feared heavyweight leader, Mike Tyson. It started badly – he was down within 30 seconds – but he steadied himself and rocked the supposedly invincible man before the opening round concluded. But his challenge ultimately ended in failure as the young slayer overpowered Big Frank in five.

ANOTHER opportunity for world glory capitulated in 1993 when countryman and WBC boss Lennox Lewis recovered from a slow start, and overcame some exceptional boxing from his opponent, battered Bruno into seventh round defeat.

IF at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Bruno, to the joy of a nation, claimed a version of the world heavyweight title in 1995, beating Oliver McCall via nervy but thoroughly deserved 12-round decision at Wembley. Bruno was excellent, but his success was short-lived as Tyson ripped away the WBC title the following year in three rounds. It was the most one-sided defeat of his career, and after eye injuries were revealed in the aftermath, Frank retired. Away from the ring, Bruno struggled to cope as depression set in. The Englishman continues to battle his demons.

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November 11, 2017
November 11, 2017

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ON November 11, 2000, Lennox Lewis defended his world heavyweight titles against top contender, and dangerous slugger, David Tua. The bout was set for Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

1. “I REALISE who I have in front of me,” said Lewis before the bout. “I realise Tua is powerful, but also that he hasn’t done anything to prepare for me. There is no one who can emulate me. When he steps into the ring he’ll say, ‘Whoa, what have I gotten myself into?”

2. TUA’S trainer, Ronnie Shields, thought differently: “Lewis has never fought anybody as strong as David. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lennox comes back to his corner and says, ‘This guy is a lot stronger than we’ve prepared for’.”

3. THE challenger was encouraged by Lewis’ loss to Oliver McCall, that came six years before, and the rickety but thrilling win over Shannon Briggs in 1998. “Lennox’s chin is very suspect,” said Tua. “Thank you for giving the ‘Tuaman’ this fight, but on November 11 I am going to punch out your lights.”

4. LEWIS countered: “Tua’s not going to be the man to make a name off beating me. He has been fighting guys who can’t take a punch. I’m concerned about his power but that’s his only asset. Unless I stick my chin out and allow him to hit it, he doesn’t have a chance to take me out. I won’t make it possible.

5. THE sold out crowd of 12,085 watched Lewis’ prophecies come true. Tua was outclassed, losing unanimously via scores of 119-109, 118-110, and 117-111. Boxing News felt that all three were generous to the challenger, and scored 120-109 in Lewis’ favour.

6. “I WAS doing all of the work in there,” said Lewis afterwards. “That’s what hype can do for a boxer when he doesn’t have the talent. Tua has a great chin, but he has to remember that you need more than a left hook.”

7. THE champion added: “My sparring partners, Egerton Marcus and Gerald Noble, gave me more trouble than Tua.”

8. TUA was booed by many for failing – bar a brief moment in round three – to land any solid punches. “Things didn’t work out for me,” he said. “I kept the faith and I hung in there. I did the best I could.”

9. ON The undercard, Clifford Etienne cruised to 19-0 and enhanced his status as an emerging contender when he decisioned Lawrence Clay-Bey over 10 rounds. The scores were 98-92, 99-91 and 97-93.

10. THE best fight of the night was a battle of veterans as John John Molina defeated Ben Tackie via split decision in a spirited light-welterweight 10-rounder.

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November 10, 2017
November 10, 2017
Floyd Mayweather

Action Images/Reuters/Steve Marcus

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FLOYD MAYWEATHER said goodbye to the super-featherweight division with the sort of performance which will leave his 9st 4lbs rivals glad to see the back of him.

The 24-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan retained his WBC belt for the eighth and last time when the corner of Jesus Chavez withdrew their man after nine rounds before a sell-out crowd of 7,100 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on November 10, 2001.

Chavez gave it his best shot, won a couple of rounds, but started to soak up punishment when Mayweather got down to business.

His retirement was a compassionate decision by his handlers, even if some fans in a city unaccustomed to top-class boxing booed.

Floyd will move up to seek new challenges at lightweight and even light-welter. He reckons he will be even stronger there.

“I couldn’t eat for four days,” revealed the champion. “Only a little salad. I didn’t drink for four days. I’ll be much stronger at 135 (pounds, or lightweight), even 140 (light-welter).

“Since I’ve been in San Francisco, my first meal was yesterday (Friday November 9). I basically drank no liquids.”

Such deprivations may explain why Mayweather spent so much time covering skillfully on the ropes as Chavez whaled away.

The challenger, of Mexican origins and based in Austin, Texas, threw so many punches some had to get through, but the quality work was always coming from the champion – especially his right uppercuts.

“I took my time, let my experience work for me,” said Mayweather. “He’d had more fights than me, but I’d been in bigger fights.

“I knew he’d be strong in the early rounds, but also knew if I went to the solar plexus he’d weaken and then I’d come on with combinations in the later rounds.

“My manager (rap impresario James Prince) wanted me to move on my legs, because the only thing Chavez could do was come straight ahead. I took my time and threw pot-shots.”

Floyd, who has developed the disconcerting tendency of referring to himself in the third person, felt the withdrawal of Chavez by his trainer Ronnie Shields was wise.

“Ronnie Shields is a good trainer. I worked with him as an amateur. Jesus Chavez is tough. A lot of guys just come to lay down. I take my hat off to him.”

The challenger seemed remarkably upbeat, even about being pulled out by his corner.

“I’m happy with my performance. Floyd is the better fighter. I gave it my best shot and hope there’ll be better times.

“My trainer felt the fight should be stopped because I was getting hit. I agreed with him. Safety should come first.

“I didn’t get frustrated. I knew he was slowing down, but he was hitting me with uppercuts to the body and that’s why my corner stopped it.

“I knew I had to bring it to Floyd. Now I’m his No.1 fan. I’ll think about things and then come back.”

Mayweather is looking for a fight with WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo (March has been mentioned) or WBC/WBA/IBF light-welter king Kostya Tszyu – but recognises he needs to stay more active.

This defence was originally set for October, but put back when Floyd needed wisdom tooth surgery.

“I need to fight more often,” he said. “I’m still young, only 24. Everyone on the pound-for-pound list is over 30.”

Judging by this showing, the Michigan boxer (who now lives in Las Vegas) deserves his place on that list. Chavez was already the WBC’s No.1 contender when Mayweather became champion three years ago – problems with the US immigration authorities hampered his career – but Floyd beat him handily despite rarely going flat out.

When Mayweather opened up with a burst, the difference between his fast, accurate, hurtful punches and the more cuffing efforts of the challenger was stark.

It is not being unfair to Chavez to say that, for all his endeavour, the title never appeared in danger of changing hands.

The champion led clearly on all cards at the end: 89-82 for Lou Filippo, 88-83 for Marty Sammon and 87-84 for Tom Kaczmarek (all American judges).

Mayweather (9st 3 1/2lbs) went on the move from the opening bell, with Chavez – three inches shorter at 5ft 5ins – marching in after him.

A right clipped the champion early on, but even in these opening moments it was noticeable how Jesus’ shots were cuffing, roundhouse ones.

Still, the challenger’s followers chanted their man’s name and created a heady atmosphere whenever there was an exchange of value.

Such was the case when a Chavez (9st 3 1/2lbs) right prompted the champion to fire back with his own right, followed by a crisp combination.

Floyd was also scoring with the jab, although soon holding and blocking as Chavez, now 35-2 (24), kept punching.

Any doubts about whose round it was were erased when the champion went on the attack over the final 15 seconds, catching the challenger with hard blows from either hand. At the bell, Mayweather strolled calmly to his corner like a man out for a Sunday morning constitutional, while Chavez punched the air with his right arm.

The champion began round two on his toes, sticking out the jab and nimbly moving out of range. But his dancing did not last long, and soon a left-right had him on the ropes, although he wasn’t hurt.

With Floyd content to lie on the strands, left hand low, he was bound to get tagged. Thus it proved, with the challenger’s best effort a hard left which caught Mayweather flush in the face.

The champion fired back, but Jesus went with him and was soon climbing all over Mayweather, punching non-stop.

When Floyd did rouse himself to throw a punch, it was usually a crisp one, but most of the work was coming from the Austin man. After six minutes it was a round apiece (judges Sammon and Kaczmarek both gave the session to Chavez).

Mayweather got off first in round three, banging in a right, but the challenger was a whirlwind. He drove the champion to the ropes, slamming away with more enthusiasm than thought.

Floyd moved little, but now and again found the opening for a sharp left hook or right uppercut. Jesus absorbed them all and kept coming, but the cumulative effect could be seen when, later in the stanza, Chavez slowed.

Now he was walking on to shots – rights in particular – as the Grand Rapids star teed off. As the bell rang, Floyd scored with yet another right and Chavez wound up a reply, being stopped from committing the foul by the prompt intervention of California referee John Schorle.

Early in the fourth Mayweather again tried lying on the ropes and using his reflexes to slip punches. He evaded many, but with Chavez pounding his body so relentlessly, some got through.

When Jesus switched his attentions upstairs, he scored with a fine left hook – only for the champion to hit back immediately with a jolting right uppercut.

That was the cue for Mayweather to open up with both hands, stinging the challenger and making him back off for almost the first time.

The Mexican-American regrouped and attacked again, but apart from one good right over the top, all the significant blows came from the champion – mostly rights to the head. It was another round for Mayweather, who as he walked to his corner, took time to banter with those at ringside, including former world heavyweight champion George Foreman, working for HBO TV.

I gave the fifth to Chavez, as did judge Kaczmarek. Mayweather spent most of the three minutes with his back to the ropes and took more punches than he landed (which wasn’t many, because he was mostly defensive).

Floyd ended with a flourish, but had thrown the round away.

All three judges awarded the sixth to the challenger, although I thought Mayweather edged what was undoubtedly a quieter session.

Moving and punching more, the Michigan man left Chavez chasing and missing – and Jesus became so frustrated, he shoved his opponent and was ticked off.

As Mayweather continued to box on the move, and Chavez failed to catch up, some fans began to boo. The city by the bay either has high standards or doesn’t know what it’s watching.

Floyd took a right early in round seven, but quickly got on his bike and again drew scattered booing. He was unconcerned, using his skills to cuff Chavez with rights rather in the manner of a mother cat keeping an errant kitten in line.

As the round wore on, it became clear the challenger was slowing, going forward more on instinct than with bad intentions.

When Floyd dodged a tired shot and countered with a jolting right uppercut, one could see he was in a different league.

Chavez made the champion grab briefly with a big left hook early in round eight, but following a spell of smothering, Mayweather scored with several right uppercuts then went for it via a barrage of stinging blows from either hand.

Jesus was under heavy pressure, but soaked it all up and retaliated with a sharp left hook as the fans warmed to the best action of the fight.

Mayweather’s storm had blown itself out but put another session in the bag – and he was soon back on the offensive in the ninth.

Chavez stormed forward straight away and got through with a right, but Mayweather fired in a burst, then brought his challenger up short with a right uppercut.

Sensing his chance, Floyd followed up with both hands to have Jesus groggy, striving to cover and hold while on unsteady legs in the centre of the ring.

His fitness and bravery enabled him to soak it all up, but as Mayweather pounded on him, it was clear the Austin man was close to breaking point.

When Floyd was unable to put him away – not for the want of trying – he dropped down a gear and Chavez finished the round bulling the champion to the ropes, giving the lie to his nickname of “El Matador.”

It had been a big round for Mayweather, but all the same it was still a surprise when the challenger’s corner pulled their man out during the interval – especially for the crowd, who booed when they realised they’d been deprived of the nine minutes’ action remaining.

“I feel like a winner tonight,” was Chavez’s instant reaction for TV interviewers. “I gave the best fighter in the world the best fight he ever had.”

That is probably true – but judging by the way he responded to the challenge on this night, Mayweather surely has great performances to come at higher weights.

The lightweights, and light-welters, have been warned.

For ALL of Mayweather’s ringside reports, look here

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November 10, 2017
November 10, 2017
Sugar Ray Robinson

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JOEY ARCHER, shooting deadly lefts with following right crosses, won a rousing and unanimous 10-round decision over former world champion Sugar Ray Robinson at the Civic Arena, Pittsburgh. Robinson afterwards intimated that he would now be retiring permanently.

It was the 48th victory in 49 fights for the 27-year-old Archer and bolstered his bid for a shot at Dick Tiger’s middleweight title.

But the valiant Robinson, fighting a fellow New Yorker 18 years his junior, occasionally flashed the form which brought him the middleweight crown five times and in a career that spans a quarter of a century.

Robinson was floored in the fourth round and took a count of ‘nine’.

Sugar Ray, weighing 160, threw a hard right to Archer’s head in the sixth round and followed up the advantage with with flurries of lefts and rights. Robinson was at his strongest in this round.

There was scarcely a dull moment in the battle which had 9,023 fans on the edge of their seats applauding both battlers.

This defeat marked a detour in Robinson’s comeback trail which he hoped would lead to a sixth middleweight title. Fighting his 200th professional bout, Robinson experienced his 18th defeat. He has won 175 fights, and was involved in six draws and in a single no-decision.

Archer, at 159, usually stalked his opponent, forcing him into an open fight, but the cagey Robinson eluded this technique and the battlers went into torrid infighting.

Judge Ernie Sesto awarded 49 points to Archer and 40 to Robinson, while judge George Lupinacci scored 50 to the winner and 39 for the loser. Referee Buck McTiernan scored 48 for Archer and 41 for Robinson.

Robinson indicated through his manager that he’s decided to hang up the gloves for good.

“It looks like he’s just decided to quit,” said George Gainford, Robinson’s long-time manager. “He isn’t under contract for any further fights, and I think he is going into the construction business.”

He said Robinson plans to make two movies in the near future.

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November 10, 2017
November 10, 2017
Marvin Hagler

Richard Mackson/USA Today Sports

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1. THERE was high demand to witness the November 10 1983 world middleweight title showdown between champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler and reigning WBA 154lb king, Roberto Duran. British fans paid £15 or £20 to watch a live broadcast on cinema screens, as Frank Warren in association with Savile Artists presented showings in Leicester Square, Bloomsbury, and Gants Hill.

2. OVER in Las Vegas, 20,000 fans crammed into Caesars Palace to see if Duran, 32, could upset the odds and defeat the increasingly formidable Hagler in what would be the richest fight in middleweight history to that point. Hagler, three years Duran’s junior, enjoyed a two-and-a-half inch height advantage, and outreached the Panamanian by eight-and-a-half inches.

3. PROMOTER Bob Arum, who announced both fighters could make $10million from the bout if it sold well on all avenues, would not have been surprised to see the upset. “Hagler has never fought a guy who moves like Duran moves,” said Arum. “Duran is now very serious and when he’s got his head on straight I think he’s the greatest fighter in the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if he beat Hagler.”

4. BUT Hagler, who was three years into a reign he had long craved, was not about to give up his title easily. “There’s a monster that comes out of me in the ring. I think it goes back to the days when I had nothing. They’re all trying to take something from me that I’ve worked long and hard for, and I like the feeling of being champ.”

5. HAGLER almost lost that feeling. After 13 rounds of the scheduled 15 Duran – cheered on by 2,000 flag bearing Panamanians – was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards. But the American turned it on over the final six minutes, hurting Roberto in the last, to emerge the deserved winner via too-close scores of 144-142, 146-145, and 144-143.

6. AT the final bell, Duran sneered and snorted, and afterwards typically offered no encouragement for the man who had just defeated him. “[Ray] Leonard is a much better fighter and boxer,” he remarked at the press conference – then staged on the morning after the fight. “I want Hagler again. I think I deserve a rematch.”

7. HAGLER concluded the contest with blood pouring down his face. Told that he was blaming the cut on a butt, Duran laughed heartily. “That’s a good one,” he said. “We lost and we aren’t making any excuses. That’s funny.”

8. THE Duran camp could have made excuses, though. His right hand was injured and swollen from the fifth round. It was officially diagnosed as an “aggravated former trauma of the distel aspect of the hand.”

9. GOODY PETRONELLI, one of the Brockton brothers who guided Hagler, said: “If Marvin had put more pressure on in the first 10 rounds it wouldn’t have gone 15.”

Marvin Hagler

10. BUT Hagler, growing tired of the criticisms he was facing despite winning, declared: “If I’d had one more round I could have knocked him out, but all I wanted to do was win, and I did.”

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November 9, 2017
November 9, 2017
Nigel Benn

Action Images/Nick Potts

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THE super-middleweight division has always been a favourite on these shores and in the early to mid-1990’s, three men enthralled and entertained the masses.

Chris Eubank originally led the way, but Nigel Benn and eventually Steve Collins took over, with Collins holding two victories over both his rivals and on November 9 1996 Collins recorded a second victory over Benn; the last time we saw “The Dark Destroyer” in the ring.

The two men returned to the scene of their first fight, the then-named Nynex Arena in Manchester, where Collins had initially vanquished Benn in four rounds, when the slugger retired on his stool due an ankle injury.

Four months later we were back in Manchester with Benn looking for redemption and Collins looking for a definitive and more emphatic victory. Once again the WBO super-middleweight belt was on the line and once again, Benn retired on his stool, although this time there was no injury.

Collins was always relentless in his assaults, but Benn carried the knockout power which made him one of the most watchable and exciting fighters that Britain has ever produced.

Many fans hoped for one more standout performance from Benn, but his heart did not seem in it on the night and he took a systematic beating at the hands of “The Celtic Warrior”.

“The Dark Destroyer” maybe should have quit earlier, but he was never a man to back down from a challenge. Benn tried to trade with Collins, but nothing he tried worked and at the end of the sixth round he signalled that he wanted no more to referee Paul Thomas.

Nigel Benn

Benn retired following the fight, although there were rumours of a comeback, “The Dark Destroyer” was never back between the ropes, despite Collins’ assumption after the fight that he would be back.

Collins fought twice more in 1997, defending his title against Frederic Seillier and Craig Cummings, but an injury in training scuppered a fight with Joe Calzaghe in Sheffield later that year. It was Eubank who took the fight instead, where those in attendance witnessed the beginning of a legendary career at world title level.

But the fights between Collins and Benn, although not the barnstormers that were expected, are huge in British Boxing history and both remain iconic figures in the super-middleweight division.

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November 9, 2017
November 9, 2017
Evander Holyfield

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THE fight with Tyson in 1996 was the most satisfying night of my career because everything I had ever done was built up to that moment. Whatever I achieved it was always being compared to Mike Tyson. It was always, “well you can’t beat Tyson” I think there is one person in everyone’s life who you have to face to pass the test. And Mike Tyson was the guy who everyone put before me, “you beat Buster Douglas but you can’t beat Mike Tyson.” But I was able to do that and it kind of got the monkey off my back.

“So when I beat him it gave me a lot of peace.

“We were in camp for about six or seven weeks. I was specific about being fast so we worked on speed in training. The thing is with Mike is that he’ll try and jump on you and hit you with the big shots right from the start. So we practised for everything he may do; he fights in spurts, so we practised in high energy spurts. That is how Mike fought, he would come out crazy, then he would slow down for a while, then he’d come in crazy again. We concentrated everything we did on how Tyson fights. We used short powerful sparring partners with that in mind – Jerry Bell and David Tua.

“Realistically, Mike was the guy who I expected to go to the Olympics with in 1984. We trained together and all that. I had pretty much seen all his fights since then. Ultimately, the two best guys have to fight each other; I know what the game of boxing is and it is fortunate to have somebody as good as you in your division because that is where you make money. You don’t make a lot of money just by beating everybody and I was fortunate enough to have about six or seven people in my division that were very capable fighters.

“I realised that a person like Tyson was like a bully, and all my life, me and bullies just didn’t get along get well. I realise that they can only take from people who they feel they can take advantage of. I’m not taking anything away from his ability, but I realised that I could take his shots, but could he take mine? But bullies don’t like people to fight back, they just like people to get out of the way.

“If you notice in that fight, I am the one who engaged, I made it happen because if you give any sign that you’re caving into him or take a step back, he gets stronger so I realised I wasn’t going to do that.

Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield

“He didn’t hurt me. I’m not saying he didn’t hit hard, he did, but I’m not going to say he hit harder than anyone else. I’ve been hit hard by a lot of people and of course, the best thing is not to get hit. The art is not to see how hard he hits, but to see how he reacts when I hit him. Every time he did connect with a punch, I wanted to make sure I got in the last punch. It is important to get in the last punch because it is the last punch that you remember. So in every round, I made sure I landed the last punch so he can think about how hard it was.

“He changed his attitude. Tyson gave off those signs of distress when he kept complaining to the referee. He twisted my arm, so I twisted his arm back and he complains to the referee. Hey, he twisted my arm first! You have to fight fire with fire; you can’t just say ‘okay’ and let it happen. He headbutted me on purpose a couple of times – I didn’t tell the referee. He would push off and put his elbow in my face so I did the same thing back. Whatever he did to me, I did it right back. Shoot, if you want to play that way then we can do it that way. I didn’t try to do it sneaky, if you do it to me, I’ll do it right back. I wasn’t going to involve the referee because to me, it didn’t matter. Mike looked at me and I looked at Mike, I made it clear that whatever he did, however he played, I would do it all night.

“I dropped him in the sixth round with a body shot and to the top of the chest. I realised that a race is not won until you cross that line. I remember when John Tate fought Mike Weaver and he got hit with an uppercut. Tate had won that fight but he got caught in the last round and fell flat on his face. With that in mind, I knew the fight wasn’t over until it’s over. Realistically I knew that Tyson was a man that had to be respected because every time he threw, he was trying to knock you out.

“By the 10th I knew that he was done. I was surprised that he came out for the 11th round because he was still so dazed. I started jabbing because I knew that I didn’t have to get in close because he would be swinging hard, I could stay outside. I wanted him to reach for me with the jab, which he did. He put the jab out and all of a sudden I hit him with the right hand and he went staggering sideways. I knew that was it. Even if I had to keep throwing hard shots for the rest of the round that is what I was going to do.

“After I had won I thought ‘okay, I did it. Everyone said I couldn’t do it.’ Maybe it didn’t happen in 1991, but it happened in 1996. Out of all my victories at heavyweight, that was the most exciting one to me.”

Holyfield-Tyson was ranked No.25 in the Boxing News 100 Greatest Fights of All-Time. Order your copy here

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