OVER a quarter of a century ago today, on July 21, 1989, a near-peak and invincible-looking Mike Tyson defended his heavyweight titles against a talented boxer named Carl Williams – this fight marked either Tyson’s sixth defence as undisputed king (since beating Tony Tucker in August of 1987 to capture all three alphabelt titles,) or it marked his second defence as the “real” undisputed ruler (since beating Michael Spinks in June of 1988 to win the lineal crown) – depending on your view.
In any case, a then 36-0 “Iron” Mike had no trouble whatsoever against the 22-2 Williams. Known as “The Truth,” 29-year-old Williams, tall at 6’4” and also athletic and in possession of a good left jab, had previously shown his qualities as a fighter by taking an ageing yet still capable Larry Holmes the full 15-rounds four years earlier. That close loss was Williams’ first crack at the heavyweight crown and now, against the feared Tyson, he was a huge underdog in getting his second shot.
The two had sparred a number of years before, with both men having differing takes on how the action, in Catskill, went. Tyson said that he was just a kid at the time and that Williams couldn’t do anything to him. While Williams stated to HBO that he had, after having endured a tough first day with Tyson, “busted him up” during the second day’s sparring. It was an interesting sideline to the fight at the Convention Centre in Atlantic City, but nothing more. To a fan, everyone felt Tyson would easily win.