JUST 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.
Williams, though, was a good fighter. Fast, brave and having that nice jab in his arsenal, he had almost everything apart from a reliable chin. Williams had been down some seven times before his date with Tyson, and though he had a reputation for getting back up after being felled, his chin, the experts felt, would not allow him to survive too long against the 23-year-old champ known as “Kid Dynamite.” The experts were proven correct.
Williams, who certainly hadn’t frozen as had so many of Tyson’s opponents, took the fight to the champion and the action, as brief as it was, was interesting and exciting. Then, dipping inside, Tyson exploded a superb left hook flush on Williams’ suspect jaw. “Oh, what a left hook!” exclaimed Reg Gutteridge, doing commentary for ITV in the UK. Williams fell backwards to the canvas, struggled to pick himself up as he lay against the ropes, and was then deemed too badly dazed to continue. Williams had beaten the count, but referee and former fighter Randy Neumann chose to wave the fight off. Williams then went into a rage, claiming he had been clear-headed and fine to continue. Replays, though, showed how Williams, when asked if he was okay by Neumann, failed to either raise his hands or reply with anything other than, as Jim Watt said during his co-commentating duties, “a lifeless shrug.”
The time of the KO was just 93-seconds and once again, it seemed as though Tyson might never lose. Astonishingly, Tyson would lose in his very next fight, when massive outsider Buster Douglas shocked the entire world in Tokyo.
Williams never again enjoyed such a high profile fight, yet he did tangle with some notable names post-Tyson. Tommy Morrison stopped him, as did Frank Bruno. Williams retired in 1997 with a decent enough 30-10 (21) record. After boxing, Williams found employment as a security guard at Ground Zero, the scene of the terrible atrocities of September 2001.
Sadly, Carl passed away due to oesophageal cancer at the age of just 53 in April of 2013.