In Part 1, we saw Iron Mike Tyson’s meteoric rise to the top of the heavyweight division. Now, we’ll see how he fares against the all-time greats of the 1970’s, starting with “Smokin” Joe Frazier.
February 6, 1970: Mike Tyson vs. Joe Frazier
Madison Square Garden is filled and millions around the world are watching on closed circuit TV as Iron Mike Tyson faces “Smokin” Joe Frazier for the Unified Heavyweight Championship. Both men enter this fight undefeated. Tyson is 39-0, 35 KOs and Frazier’s record stands at 24-0, 21 KOs. Tyson is a solid 9-5 favorite according to Las Vegas oddsmakers with many experts touting him as the finest heavyweight fighter they’ve seen since the days of Joe Louis.
Over the first four rounds, Iron Mike lives up to the billing as Frazier cannot cope with his blinding hand speed and bone-jarring punching power. Frazier is down twice in the second round, and Tyson nearly finishes him with a barrage of devastating punches in the 4th. However, Frazier survives and refuses to back down. By the end of the 6th, Mike is shaking his head as if to say, what else to I have to hit this guy with.
Frazier’s body punching begins to take its toll over the next three rounds as Tyson becomes discouraged and tired. Smokin Joe lands a crackling left hook which sends Tyson to the canvas in the 10th. Tyson absorbs a horrific beating in the 11th before Frazier closes the show in the 12th with a devastating left hook. Iron Mike suffers his first professional defeat.
Frazier wins KO 12 (Tyson loses the WBA Heavyweight Championship)
October 10, 1970: Mike Tyson vs. Mac Foster
Tyson recovers from his loss to Frazier with a convincing victory over fringe contender Mac Foster.
Tyson wins TKO 4
March 8, 1971:
In the battle of the century, Joe Frazier wins by a unanimous decision over Muhammad Ali to win universal recognition as heavyweight champion.
April 3, 1971: Mike Tyson vs. Jurgen Blin
Tyson dominates from the beginning and stops Blin in the 5th round.
Tyson TKO 5
October 17, 1971: Mike Tyson vs. Oscar Bonavena
The durable Bonavena gives Iron Mike fits over the course of a very tough 10 round affair. Neither man is down in the course of the fight. In the end, Tyson lands the harder punches and secures a closer than expected decision victory. 97-94, 97-94, 96-95
Tyson wins UD 10
December 31, 1971:
Tyson ends the year with a record of 42-1, 37 KOs and is hoping for a second chance at Joe Frazier.
March 11, 1972: Mike Tyson vs. Buster Mathis:
In the rematch, Tyson chops down Buster Mathis in 7.
Tyson wins TKO 7
June 17, 1972: Mike Tyson vs. Cleveland Williams
Tyson destroys an ancient Cleveland Williams in 93 seconds, dropping him for the count with a vicious overhand right.
Tyson wins KO 1
August 25, 1972:
Tyson signs to face former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali for the NABF Heavyweight Championship. This is a highly anticipated match-up as both men are seeking to rebound from their respective losses to Joe Frazier.
November 18, 1972: Mike Tyson vs. Muhammad Ali
Over 40,000 fans flock to the Houston Astrodome to watch this highly anticipated match-up of former heavyweight champions. Tyson has won six straight fights since his 12th round knockout loss to Joe Frazier in February 1970. Iron Mike comes in with a record of 44-1, 39 KOs. Ali has won 8 straight since his decision loss to Frazier in March 1971 and entered with a record of 39-1, 30 KOs. The fight has been tabbed a pick em affair by the odds makers. Heavyweight champion Joe Frazier is among those in attendance for this fight.
Ali has been driving Iron Mike crazy with trash talking in the weeks leading up to this bout and Tyson has vowed to “bury him six feet under.” As the fighters enter the ring, Tyson looks utterly crazed. The bell rings for round one, and from the beginning, Iron Mike is completely outclassed. Ali moves cleverly and keeps his jab in Tyson’s face over the first four rounds. By the 5th, Ali is taunting and tormenting Tyson in the center of the ring as Iron Mike simply has no answers. Tyson finally lands a left hook which rocks Ali in the 6th.
However, Ali backs Tyson off with a hard right in the 7th which staggers him. By the 8th round, Ali is in complete command, and Iron Mike is badly swollen around both eyes. It seems like Ali can finish Tyson at any time, but he’s determined to humiliate Iron Mike, taunting, clowning and landing his jab at will over the next two rounds. Muhammad openly scoffs at Iron Mike as he returns to the corner at the close of round 10. In round 11, an enraged Tyson nails Ali with a left to the groin. Ali goes down in a heap, and the fight is delayed for several minutes. Tyson has penalized two points, but the referee lets the fight continue. Angelo Dundee screams in protest from Ali’s corner.
The fight resumes. Ali lands a hard right which snaps Mike’s head back. Tyson lurches forward, lifts Ali off the ground and slams him to the canvas. The referee immediately disqualifies Tyson, and a melee ensues in the ring. It takes the Houston police department twenty minutes to restore order. Tyson leaves the ring to a chorus of boos. He is essentially banned from boxing after the fight as no commission is willing to offer him a license.
Ali wins DQ 11
June 15, 1974: Mike Tyson vs. Bob Stallings
Finally, after 19 months, the city of Las Vegas is willing to sanction a Mike Tyson fight. Tyson ices Bob Stallings in under 50 seconds.
Tyson wins KO 1
October 30, 1974: Mike Tyson vs. Ken Norton
Tyson squares off against Norton on the undercard of Foreman-Ali in a battle of heavyweight seeking redemption. Norton keeps Tyson off balance over the first three rounds with his awkward style and left jab. Tyson lands a vicious left hook which sends Norton to the canvas in the 4th. Iron Mike drops Norton twice in the 5th, and the fight is stopped.
Tyson wins TKO 5
December 31, 1974:
Mike Tyson ends the year with a record of 46-2, 41 KOs.
April 5, 1975: Mike Tyson vs. Joe Bugner
Tyson dominates from the outset. By the middle rounds, Bugner’s face is a river of blood. The fight is stopped in the 6th.
Tyson wins TKO 6
September 20, 1975: Mike Tyson vs. Jimmy Young
Young outboxes Tyson over the first two rounds. However, Iron Mike lands a devastating left hook in the 3rd which sends Young to the canvas. Tyson drops Young twice in the 4th leading to a stoppage.
Tyson wins TKO 4
December 31, 1975:
Mike Tyson ends the year with a record of 48-2, 43 KOs.
February 5, 1976:
Tyson signs to face heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a rematch. Ali is more subdued in the pre-fight build up saying simply, “I’m the champion now, and I already beat this guy, and there’s no need to say anymore.”
**This concludes Part II. Next Tyson faces “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, in a rematch and more as Iron Mike’s career moves into the late 70’s and beyond. Look for the Article on Sunday Morning!