58. EVANDER HOLYFIELD (l dq 3)
June 28 1996, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
‘What’s that in my mouth? It’s Evander’s ear. I might as well bite a chunk out of it and go absolutely ballistic,’ thought Tyson.
57. KEVIN McBRIDE (l rtd 5)
June 11 2005, MCI Center, Washington
A sorry end to his career as 39-year-old Tyson decides enough is enough when the mediocre McBride proves too much.
56. DANNY WILLIAMS (l ko 4)
July 30 2004, Freedom Hall State Fairground, Louisville
Ageing Tyson starts fast but Williams stands tall to win thrilling shootout.
55. ORLIN NORRIS (NC 1)
October 23 1999, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Ding-Ding! End of round one. Hang on, Tyson has whacked Norris after the bell. He’s injured. He can’t continue. Groan.
54. BRUCE SELDON (w rsf 1)
September 7 1996, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Seldon hits the floor like a defunct aeroplane, but replays expose the meekest of surrenders.
53. MARK YOUNG (w rsf 1)
December 27 1985, Latham Coliseum
Young goes down like he’s been shot after being clipped. An early example of Tyson’s reputation preceding him.
52. RICARDO SPAIN (w rsf 1)
June 20 1985, Resorts Int., Atlantic City
Fitting television debut for Tyson, and a painful one for Spain, who is dropped by a right, and finished with a left hook.
51. LARRY SIMMS (w ko 3)
July 19 1985, Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie
Legend has it that Tyson’s team destroyed footage to cover up a poor performance.
50. TRENT SINGLETON (w rsf 1)
April 10 1985, Albany, New York
The inept Singleton is the perfect fodder for a rampaging Tyson, who scores two cinematic knockdowns to end matters in 52 seconds.
49. BRIAN NIELSON (w rtd 7)
October 13 2001, Parken, Copenhagen
At 35 years old, it was clear that Tyson was fading fast as he laboured against the blubbery Dane for large periods. It was forgiven, though, because it set up the Lennox Lewis showdown that everyone wanted to see.
48. MIKE JAMESON (w rsf 5)
January 24 1986, Trump Plaza, Atlantic City
Tyson goes past four rounds for the first time against Jameson – a solid gatekeeper type – who is forced to shave off his full beard beforehand.
47. DON HALPIN (w ko 4)
May 23 1985, Albany, New York
Slow and steady for 18-year-old Mike, who practices his technique on overmatched Haplin before uppercutting him to defeat.
46. JOHN ALDERSON (w rtd 2)
July 11 1985, Trump Hotel, Atlantic City
Gutsy Alderson forces young Tyson to go to show off his full repertoire in round two.
45. MICHAEL JOHNSON (w ko 1)
September 5 1985, Atlantis Hotel, Atlantic City
Another YouTube favourite: The right hand finisher is a pearler.
44. ROBERT COLAY (w ko 1)
October 25 1985, Atlantis Hotel, Atlantic City
Tyson’s technique was developing quickly, and the room he was creating to detonate his bombs increasingly impressive.
43. PETER McNEELEY (w dq 1)
August 19 1995, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Fans were desperate to see what 29-year-old Tyson had left after his release from prison but were left none the wiser.
42. LORENZO CANADY (w ko 1)
August 15 1985, Resorts, Atlantic City
“With every punch, I hit him so he’d be hurt at all times,” Tyson said.
41. JULIUS FRANCIS (w rsf 2)
January 29 2000, MEN Arena, Manchester
Francis earned a pretty penny from this shellacking, not least from the advertising on the sole of his boots.
40. CONROY NELSON (w rsf 2)
November 22 1985, Latham Coliseum
Ringside seats were $20 to watch Tyson ace his then-toughest test.
39. WILLIAM HOSEA (w ko 1)
June 28 1986, Houston Field House, Troy, New York
Five months after falling to Tyson’s educated body attack in two minutes, Hosea went seven rounds with former WBC boss, Pinklon Thomas.
38. SAMMY SCAFF (w rsf 1)
December 6 1985, Felt Forum, New York
The first fight where Tyson could be spotted in those signature black shorts. To mark the occasion he broke Scaff’s nose in the first 17 seconds.
37. DAVID JACO (w rsf 1)
January 11 1986, ESPCC, Albany
Jaco was no world beater but certainly capable. Tyson chewed him up with ease.
36. LORENZO BOYD (w ko 2)
July 11 1986, Stevensville Hotel, Swan Lake, New York
Picturesque savagery, as Boyd’s nose is fractured, and his body hammered. Tyson was ready to be unleashed on the best.
35. BUSTER MATHIS JNR (w ko 3)
December 16 1995, Core States Spectrum
Here we saw flashes that Tyson, approaching 30, remained an exceptionally fearsome fighter.
34. STEVE ZOUSKI (w ko 3)
March 10 1986, Nassau Coliseum
Tyson gave himself a ‘zero’ when asked to mark his performance, but the right-left combo that finished things was perfect.
33. STERLING BENJAMIN (w rsf 1)
November 1 1985, Latham Coliseum
An early example of young Tyson’s brilliant fistic education.
32. LENNOX LEWIS (l ko 8)
June 8 2002, The Pyramid, Washington
Perhaps a little high, but the heart he exhibited while enduring his worst beating added a new layer to his ring legend.
31. MITCH GREEN (w pts 10)
May 20 1986, Madison Square Garden, New York
“I had fun in there,” the 19-year-old prospect enthused after being forced to go the distance by an unwilling Green.
30. CLIFFORD ETIENNE (w ko 1)
February 22 2003, The Pyramid, Memphis
Tyson’s final victory provided a suitable one-punch, 49-second souvenir for highlight reel collectors.
29. LOU SAVARESE (w rsf 1)
June 24 2000, Hampden Park, Glasgow
Tyson at his most maniacal. Savarese, a solid fringe contender, was destroyed, the referee almost taken out and Lennox Lewis’ non-existant children were put on Mike’s post-fight menu.
28. EVANDER HOLYFIELD (l rsf 11)
November 9 1996, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
A defeat it may have been, but Tyson played a massive part in one of the greatest heavyweight fights in history.
27. BUSTER DOUGLAS (l ko 10)
February 11 1990, Tokyo Dome
Out of sorts from the start, Tyson looked as bewildered as everyone else while Douglas crafted the impossible. Tyson almost rescued the fight with a beautiful uppercut in the eighth.
26. DONNIE LONG (w rsf 1)
October 9 1985, Atlantic City
A cult classic. Three knockdowns, textbook left hooking, and a kiss blown to the camera to celebrate. What better way to spend 88 seconds?
25. HENRY TILLMAN (w ko 1)
June 16 1990, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
Revenge over old amateur conqueror served in first post-Douglas bout.
24. RAZOR RUDDOCK (w pts 12)
June 28 1991, Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas
Bruising, untidy sequel that confirmed to critics that Mike – tagged regularly – was not the predator of old.
23. ANDREW GOLOTA (NC 2)
October 20 2000, The Palace, Auburn Hills
Tyson reminded the division of his menace as he beat up Golota, broke his skull and forced him to quit.
22. FRANS BOTHA (w ko 5)
January 16 1999, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
This, his first fight since the Holyfield II debacle, was shaping up to be one of Tyson’s worst showings – as he attempted to break Botha’s arm, among other indiscretions – until he delivered the final, brilliant blow.
21. ALFONZO RATLIFF (w rsf 2)
September 6 1986, Las Vegas Hilton
Ratliff, a former cruiserweight champion, was visibly terrified in Tyson’s final bout before claiming a world title.
20. REGGIE GROSS (w rsf 1)
March 13 1986, Madison Square Garden, New York
Full credit to Gross for going in all guns blazing. Tyson seemed to enjoy it too, as he danced beneath the bullets before defining the contest with one left hook.
19. BONECRUSHER SMITH (w pts 12)
March 7 1987, Las Vegas Hilton
Boring, but an older Tyson may have lost his cool under such spoiling tactics.
18. HECTOR MERCEDES (w rsf 1)
March 6 1985, ESPCC, Albany
Where it all began. Mercedes, setting the scene perfectly, was wiped out in a whirlwind of pure aggression.
17. FRANK BRUNO (w rsf 5)
February 25 1989, Las Vegas Hilton
Tyson was struggling with his demons by the time he fought Bruno for the first time. Even so, hard to argue with the uppercuts that finished the Englishman.
16. JAMES TILLIS (w pts 10)
May 3 1986, Civic Center, Glens Falls
Tillis was coming into the fight when Tyson – in a technically superb move – dipped and landed a left in round four. Tillis went down, but lasted the course.
15. EDDIE RICHARDSON (w rsf 1)
November 13 1985, Ramada-Houston Hotel, Houston
This was the first bout for Tyson following the death of his beloved mentor, and he did Cus D’Amato proud.
14. CARL WILLIAMS (w rsf 1)
July 21 1989, Convention Center, Atlantic City
There was some debate about the stoppage being premature, but people now forget how highly thought of Williams was before being flattened early.
13. TONY TUBBS (w rsf 2)
March 21 1988, Tokyo Dome
With Tyson at his absolute peak, he crushed the gifted and underrated Tubbs the moment he dared to attack.
12. ALEX STEWART (w rsf 1)
December 8 1990, Convention Center, Atlantic City
Tyson would later name this thrashing as his best ever performance.
11. JESSE FERGUSON (w rsf 6)
February 16 1986, Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy
Ferguson came without fear and with a plan, but Tyson – only 19 – systematically broke down the contender.
10. RAZOR RUDDOCK (w rsf 7)
March 18 1991, Mirage Hotel, Las Vegas
While this performance did not receive widespread acclaim at the time, Tyson’s exciting beatdown of an inspired Ruddock is a fans’ favourite today.
9. FRANK BRUNO (w rsf 3)
March 16 1996, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
For one night only, as Bruno – clearly on edge – was effortlessly beaten, it looked like the Tyson of old was back in town.
8. JOSE RIBALTA (w rsf 10)
August 17 1986, Trump Plaza, Atlantic City
The outrageously gutsy Ribalta came to fight and in doing so, provided Tyson the platform to show off his burgeoning arsenal for 10 punishing rounds. The choreographed combos, punctuated by uppercuts and hooks, thrice dropped Ribalta before the referee rescued him on the ropes.
7. TYRELL BIGGS (w rsf 7)
October 16 1987, Convention Hall, Atlantic City
Tyson cared little for Biggs, a gifted stylist who won gold at the 1984 Olympics after being selected ahead of young Mike as America’s super-heavyweight representative. In one of Tyson’s cruellest displays, he handed out a slaying that left Biggs ruined, never to be the same again.
6. PINKLON THOMAS (w rsf 6)
May 30 1987, Las Vegas Hilton
The gifted former WBC boss had his moments with his jab, but could do nothing when the end came in the sixth. Thomas would later blame an injury to his right shoulder yet it was hard to look past the violent final volley of Tyson punches as the real cause of his demise.
5. MARVIS FRAZIER (w rsf 1)
July 26 1986, Civic Center, Glens Falls
The 30-second demolition of fringe contender Frazier served as a warning for the rest of the division. He expertly pinned Marvis in a corner within moments of the opening bell, before pivoting into position and volleying him to sleep.
4. TONY TUCKER (w pts 12)
August 1 1987, Las Vegas Hilton
Tucker’s subsequent descent into substance abuse and ill-discipline takes some of the shine of this victory but it shouldn’t. In August 1987, Tucker – unbeaten in 34 – was an outstanding heavyweight, yet Tyson overcame numerous disadvantages and a poor start to win a unanimous decision, and unify the division. If only Tucker had regrouped after this, rather than losing his way, then this triumph would generate more respect.
3. MICHAEL SPINKS (w ko 1)
June 27 1987, Convention Hall, Atlantic City
Spinks will now claim he wasn’t nervous as he made his way to the ring but his face – a marked contrast to previous entries to battle – tells a different story. Whatever Spinks’ state of mind, he simply could not cope with Tyson as one of the most eagerly awaited heavyweight showdowns in history ended in 91 seconds.
2. TREVOR BERBICK (w rsf 2)
November 22 1986, Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas
A coronation of the ages as the 20-year-old swarmed all over the exceptionally sturdy WBC champion from the start. Berbick came to teach the young prospect a serious lesson, but the finale bordered on the comedic as his legs jellied and he toppled three times from one punch.
1. LARRY HOLMES (w rsf 4)
January 22 1988, Convention Center, Atlantic City
“Iron” Mike bided his time with the legendary former king, overcoming a brief fightback from Holmes in round three, before savaging him in the fourth. Tyson never looked better and his victory blossomed with time, as Holmes proved he was far from shot in the next decade.