When Mike Tyson landed in Tokyo in January 1990 to defend his world title against Buster Douglas, the heavyweight champion was not in the right frame of mind.
for many, the fight was seen as complete nonsense; some bookies even refused to take bets on the fight. The Mirage, the only casino in Las Vegas bold enough to offer odds to punters, scored Douglas a 42-1 underdog. Basically, those who wanted to gamble 32 years ago were told not to bother with the surprise.
However, as Tyson recalled in his autobiography, all was not well behind the scenes and the fighter, who had previously rendered so many opponents unconscious in his wake of devastation, would soon be humiliated.
“On January 8, 1990, I boarded a plane to fly to Tokyo,” he wrote. “kicking and screaming. I didn’t want to fight; all I was interested in back then was partying and fucking women.
“I didn’t consider buster douglas to be much of a challenge. I didn’t even bother to watch any of his fights on video.
“he had easily beaten everyone who had knocked him out.”
tyson barely trained for the fight, and don king had to pull him out of a public sparring session after just one round when partner greg page started making him look silly.
king had charged anyone willing to attend the session a handsome $60 for the two-round exhibition, but was forced to cut the main act in half. ‘iron mike’ decided to do his training in a slightly less orthodox style.
He said, “in addition to having sex with the maids, I was seeing this young Japanese girl that I had sex with the last time I was in Japan.
“robin [his wife] would go shopping and I would go down to the back of the hotel where this young lady had a room…so that was my training for douglas.”
tyson arrived in the far east just 30 pounds overweight. always the businessman, the king bet the cash cow on him that he wouldn’t be in weight for the fight.
On the eve of the fight on February 10, 1990, Tyson weighed in at 220 pounds and collected his winnings before celebrating in the usual way.
“The day before the fight I also had two maids at the same time. and then two more girls, one at a time, the night before the fight.”
Unfortunately for him, it would be the last time he enjoyed success in Tokyo, as the world witnessed one of the biggest sporting upsets in history.
By the end of the fifth round, Tyson’s eye was in pretty bad shape due to Douglas’s thudding punch that repeatedly found a home and disrupted the champion’s rhythm.
Her face grotesquely swollen, Tyson staggered into the corner and learned that his team hadn’t even bothered to bring an ice pack, as they couldn’t foresee a situation where they would need one.
Instead, they filled a large latex glove with ice water and placed it against his face to try to stop the swelling.
“He wasn’t the usual Tyson who entered the ring,” he admitted. “It was obvious to anyone watching that he really didn’t want to be there. the fight started and I fought horribly.”
After clumsily following the challenger on wobbly legs into the eighth, a trademark right uppercut landed and Douglas was apparently finished.
but the confusion between the Japanese timekeeper and the Mexican referee due to the language barrier turned out to be a big problem and the count of 10 never materialized.
two rounds later, douglas infamously stopped tyson for the first time in his career and the heavyweight landscape changed forever.
The seemingly invincible Tyson didn’t know where he was.
“I knew that god didn’t mess with any small animals, that lightning only hit the biggest animals, that those are the only ones that bother god.
“The lesser animals do not anger God. God has to keep the big animals at bay so that they don’t exalt themselves on their thrones.
“I lay on my bed and thought I had become so big that God was jealous of me.”
While Tyson contemplated his mortality, Douglas seized the opportunity to cash in on his underdog win and went for the quick bucks. Instead of rematching Tyson, he won $24 million fighting Evander Holyfield and meekly handed over his WBA, WBC, IBF and Ring Magazine titles.
As for Tyson, the Brownsville fighter would eventually regain heavyweight champion status after his stint in prison, but he was never the same after that fateful night at the Toyko Dome.