“IRON” Mike Tyson took care of business in what seems to be becoming routine fashion as he destroyed Tony Tubbs with a left hook in the second of the scheduled 12-rounder that opened Tokyo’s huge Korakuen domed stadium.
Tyson’s latest heavyweight title defence brought him a reputed purse $10m, his biggest yet, and cleared the way for his bonanza June 27 fight with Michael Spinks at Atlantic City.
Tubbs, who was guaranteed $500,000, had joked at the pre-fight press conference: “I’m just a stepping stone. I’m the tune-up.” But this was exactly how it turned out as the 21-year-old Tyson, the youngest world heavyweight champ in history, cleared the way for the fight with Spinks that could be the richest in ring history. And that will be followed, assuming Spinks doesn’t upset the odds, by a September 3 date against Frank Bruno in London.
Tyson, who scored his 34th win in a row, 30 inside, was cool and efficient. Tubbs did well in the first, throwing quick punches on the outside and holding his own in close-range maulings, but he started to crumble in the second as Tyson began getting through to body and head.
But the end came suddenly. Tyson moved in and landed a single left book to the side of the head, ripping open a cut on Tubbs’ right eyebrow. Tubbs wobbled drunkenly, made as if to grab hold of the top rope and then collapsed in a neutral corner as the young champion rushed in but missed with a left hook as the challenger fell.
And even before New York referee Arthur Mercante could start counting, Tubbs’ trainer, Odell Hadley, rushed into the ring to go to his fighter’s aid.
Referee Mercante waved it off as the trainer took out Tubbs gumshield and held an orange towel to the challenger’s gashed eyebrow.
Tubbs was helped to his feet, looking bemused, as American MC Michael Buffer announced to the somewhat subdued crowd that Tyson had won by “knockout” at two minutes 54 seconds of round two.
And although the count hadn’t been started, Tubbs was to all intents knocked out.
“He took a great shot and he went down,” Tyson said afterwards. “But he came to fight – he didn’t come just to pick up a payday.
“He kept his hands up so I started hitting to the body and bringing them up the middle. Then I saw his eye and I aimed right for the eye.” He landed, and that was that.
Tubbs was a massive underdog and came into the ring a bloated-looking 17st 0 1/4lb, some 8lbs more than he said he’d weigh and thus failing to qualify for a supposed $50,000 bonus if he’d weighed 235lbs (16st 11lbs).
Tyson, trim and muscled at 15st 6 1/4lbs, and watched from ringside by his new bride, the actress Robin Givens, seemed prepared to bide his time as he pressed forwards and looked for openings in the first.
Tubbs made a good start, popping away at the oncoming Tyson in a fight that took place at mid-day Monday, Tokyo time, on a Japanese public holiday, to suit a peak US viewing audience watching on HBO TV on Sunday evening.
Tubbs caught Tyson with a left hook in the first round, fired a wicked one-two combination and pulled away when Tyson launched an overhand right. And the Los Angeles-based challenger seemed to be holding his own inside, working to Tyson’s body with single left hooks and rights.
But he wasn’t hurting the champion and Tyson landed the heaviest punch of the opening round – a right that caught Tubbs high up. And right at the end of the round, Tyson forced Tubbs to the ropes and landed a right to the body, following with a left hook to the head that landed fractionally after the bell.
Tyson picked up his pace in the second, going to work in earnest now although Tubbs jabbed and tried to counter.
But Tyson was starting to break through, and his punches were so much harder than those thrown by Tubbs.
Tyson slammed in a right to the body and brought up a right uppercut, a favourite combination, jerking Tubbs’ head back.
The champion repeated the procedure but Tubbs landed a left hook but seemed to wobble as Tyson threw a left hook to the head, although the blow appeared glancing.
Tyson was relentless as ever. Tubbs covered up on the ropes but a left hook got through and the challenger grabbed.
It looked as if Tubbs would get through to the end of the round, when, after they’d parted from the clinch, Tyson walked right in and threw the sudden, sharp left hook that ended the fight.