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February 11, 2010

The Fall Of Iron Mike... 20 Years Later

20 years ago today, all of us witnessed the downfall of a superhero... I'm not talking about a fictional hero like Batman or Superman, but a real life superhero. Ok, maybe not a SUPER HERO, but someone just a human with SUPER POWERS... Iron Mike Tyson was no saint prior to his February 11th, 1990 bout with Buster Douglas, but he was remarkable to say the least. It is fair to say that watching him fight was like a watching a fight between a mountain lion and a field mouse. This statement doesn't even do Mr. Tyson justice. Being only 8-11 years old at the time, Mike Tyson's fights on HBO were one of my fondest childhood memories. We didn't even have basic cable, but my father signed us up for HBO - Only service just so we could watch Tyson completely destroy other boxers. He had mowed down everybody who had stepped in his way, from championship contenders to journeymen heavyweights. As hard as I try to remember, I NEVER seen Mike Tyson move backwards in the boxing ring. He was always charging, always leading the onslaught. His strategy wasn't the most sound in boxing, but the fear that he used to instill in his opponents showed you just how effective the strategy was. These guys were pro boxers, the toughest of the tough... and Iron Mike used to beat them like stepchildren all over the ring. It must have been tough to sign a contract to fight Tyson, cause you knew going in that the best case scenario was that you would get knowcked out in the first round. Why would getting knocked out in the first round be a best case scenario??? Because if you made it through the first round, you pissed Tyson off and then he would REALLY want to hurt you as he battered you for the next couple of rounds. He even had his own video game, for christ sake. On Nintendo. This was huge. And then Buster Douglas came along. And just like that...

We Went From This:

To This:

Words cannot describe the upset that occured in Japan that night twenty years ago. And words can't describe how crushed I was as I sat there on Cohancy St in my house watching my favorite superhuman get smacked around. I could not process the fight in my 11 year old mind, it was like watching Superman get force fed Krytonite. The knockout made me realize that nothing in sports should ever be taken for granted. It also illustrates the point that the more preperation a person puts in, the better the results will be. Tyson took Douglas as a joke, and he was made to look like one. In retrospect, Douglas then followed Tyson down the same path of stupidity. After dethroning the King of the Jungle, what did Douglas do??? He became hollywood, stopped training hard, and got smacked up quick fast by Evander Holyfield, losing the title. He also ballooned to 400 pounds and never was a threat in the heavyweight ranks again. As for Tyson... well, there is no reason to talk about his downfall. Everyone knows his story, and since he was one of my childhood heroes I will leave it at that. If you haven't already seen it, check out the 2009 documentary Tyson. Great film about a great boxer. He might not be a saint, but to a generation of boxing fans watching during the 80's and 90's, no one was better. So congratulations to Buster Douglas on one of the true David and Goliath stories ever... you slayed the giant. It all started 20 years ago today... one of the worst days I have ever had as a sports fan.

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