This Week In Boxing History: Tyson Mania Hits New Heights

On this day 30 years ago the hype, aura, and fear of Mike Tyson hit record highs. The Ali Vs Tyson debate had made its way into every sports bar and barbershop in every corner of America. Mike Tyson took apart Michael Spinks is 91 seconds. Propelling ‘Iron Mike” to legendary status which left the American public wondering if they were watching the greatest heavyweight champion ever. History would play itself out and expose Tyson to a degree but the late 1980’s heavyweight boxing was a fun and unforgettable era. Mike Tyson was portrayed as this immovable force this young boxing prodigy who at just 21-years old at the time of the Spinks fight was successful in unifying all three (at the time) major straps and captivating the imagination of the boxing world. Making an Iron Mike fight which happened quite often at that time “must watch TV” for the boxing hardcore and casual alike.


Entering the June 27th showdown between undisputed heavyweight champion Iron Mike Tyson who had compiled a record of 34-0 (30) and the challenger Michael Spinks also sported a perfect record of 31-0 (21). Iron Mike had become the youngest heavyweight champion in history a year and a half prior to the Spinks fight at just 20 years old by knocking out Trevor Berbick in unforgettable fashion capturing the WBC belt. Over the next 18 months, Tyson defended his green belt a total of six times and picked up the WBA by taking a one-sided decision over James “Bone Crusher” Smith and captured the IBF strap by taking a decision over Tony Tucker in August of 1987. Tyson also picked up wins over Tyrell Biggs and the legendary Larry Holmes all bringing him to this fight with Michael Spinks an undefeated former heavyweight champion who was supposed to challenge Mike Tyson and test the young Tyson like we had never seen before, Spinks was going to make Iron Mike earn his greatness. A former Gold Medal winner on the famous 1976 Olympic team. Spinks captured light heavyweight gold first in 1981 by taking a wide decision and clear victory over Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Muhammad had planned to jump up to heavyweight and challenge for the title in that division after beating Spinks, Michael Spinks obviously had different ideas and derailing the dream for Muhammad. In addition to the WBA strap Spinks took off of Muhammad, he would unify all three titles and make 10 total defenses in beating the likes of Davis Sears, Eddie Davis, and Dwight Muhammad Qawi in becoming one of the greatest light heavyweight champions of any era. Spinks would jump up and fulfill the plans he derailed Mustaffa Muhammad from achieving and captured the heavyweight crown by narrowly and controversially outpointing Larry Holmes and then again beating him again in the rematch via SD a fight no one thinks he won outside of Frank Brunette & and Jerry Roth. Spinks defended the crown against Steffen Tangstad for no reason and Gerry Cooney before retiring in 1987 and vacating the IBF world title.

Michael Spinks and Larry Holmes in Rematch

The Tyson Vs Spinks showdown went down on Monday, June 27th, 1988, 30 years ago, at the Conventional Hall in Atlantic City, NJ the fight was billed as “Once and For All” and featured an undercard bout between a comebacking heavyweight contender named James “Buster” Douglas who stopped Mike Williams via 7th-round TKO a win he needed to secure on his way to eventually challenge for the heavyweight crown. Michael Spinks the undefeated and former two weight-class world champion and still the lineal champ as he had never lost his world title entered the ring first. Mike Tyson the undisputed and undefeated heavyweight champion entered the ring to an odd selection of music, simply a variety of sounds, metals, and chains crashing, everything about it was intimidating. No robe, no cut-out towel, just an emotionless Mike Tyson rushing to the ring surrounded by the sounds of crashing metals. It seemed to be enough to psych out anyone and apparently that included Michael Spinks. Spinks should have left at that point, if you are still reading this you lasted longer than Spinks did on that night against Tyson. The end officially came at 91 seconds but it really came to an end somewhere between Mikes ring walk and the staredown as it appeared Spinks had conceded the fight before it started.

Tyson attacked at the opening bell with a stiff jab the sent Spinks into the ropes and followed it up with a thudding right hand to the body. Spinks who seemed only interested in holding and surviving was moments let caught with a series of vicious right hands by Tyson sent Spinks on the retreat, Tyson hunting his man like a dog on fear quickly caught spinks with a left uppercut-right hook to the body that sent him down to a knee. Spinks was able to get to his feet at the count of four, after taking the mandatory eight count. Tyson went back to work and landed one perfectly place right-hand that send Spinks back to the canvas and this time for good. Ending the reign of Michael Spinks and is still the crown jewel for Mike Tyson. A knockout that many consider among the best performances and most sensational and unforgettable knockouts in heavyweight history.


Michael Spink would never fight again, leaving a tremendous legacy as one of the best light heavyweight champions of any era and the man who dethroned Larry Holmes, one of the greatest heavyweight champions ever. Mike Tyson would go on and make successful title defenses against Frank Bruno and Carl Williams. Leading up to what happened in Toyko on February 11th, 1990 against James Buster Douglas which forever tainted and changed the legacy of Mike Tyson. Tyson would fight four more times going 4-0 before going to prison for three years. Upon his return Tyson would capture the WBA/WBC straps in spectacular fashion which helped rebuild the Mike Tyson aura, which was once and fall all taken away from him by a little engine that could out of Atlanta, Georgia by the name of Evander Holyfield first on November 9th, 1996 and then again seven  months later on June 28th in the unforgettable bite fight.

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