On February 11, 1990, I sat in some pre-school classroom and had not the slightest clue what boxing was. Nap time and recess were the most important aspects of my then four-year-old life. That in mind, I’ve always enjoyed learning about the past. It’s entertaining, informative and nostalgic. Twenty years ago
today yesterday, James “Buster” Douglas paralyzed the world with his knockout of “Iron” Mike Tyson. Unfortunately, the sport, Douglas and Tyson would never be the same.
It was the classic David versus Goliath storyline with Douglas a 42-to-1 underdog. He was only selected to fight Tyson mainly so Don King could pad his already hefty bank account. Long story short, we know how it ended. Buster was on top of the world and a source of inspiration for anyone who considered sparring with Iron Mike. His 15 minutes soon ran its course, however, and would live off a near $25M dollar pay-day from his fight with Evander Holyfield. His greatest accomplishment would also serve as his most haunting demon.
Tyson’s life has been examined countless times over the years. In retrospect, Mike was never the same after this fight. His comeback post-prison gave brief hope that he’d once again dominate the sport like he did 1980’s. It never happened. Losses both in and out of the ring have followed Mike throughout the years. He’s still one of the most intriguing figures in the world by far, but his legacy pre-February 11 is what I often choose to reflect upon.
Lastly, boxing itself hasn’t been the same either. Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield are legends in their own right, but the sport has yet to find a captivating heavyweight similar to Tyson in his prime. It has already taken a backseat to the UFC/MMA phenomenon and fell flat on its face when potentially the biggest fight in recent memory collapsed.
Who knows how Tyson’s life and the landscape of the sport would have changed had Douglas been the recipient of a right hook? Questions loom and predictions come a dime a dozen, but boxing’s most infamous knockout has been one it never truly recovered from. And I’m not sure if the sport ever will.