In 1990, boxing’s bad boy, Mike Tyson, was in his prime.
Unbeaten and the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, everybody thought he was unbeatable.
So fearsome was he, that when his fight against Buster Douglas was announced, many bookies didn’t even both to run lines on the win market, they didn’t see the point. Buster Douglas didn’t stand a chance, Tyson would beat him easily, so in terms of betting action it was about which round Buster would go down in, whether it would be a knock out, etc.
A few bookies did take bets on the win though, and were surprised when those incredibly short odds attracted bettors.
One even took $168,000 at 1/42 – so the punter stood to win $4,000 if Tyson won, and as we know, he didn’t. That’s how people were seeing it though, an easy way to grab a few grand if you had $50k+ to temporarily leave with the bookmaker.
What they didn’t know, was that Tyson had barely been training for the fight because he had bought into his own legend. He believed, in his own words, that:
“He’s an amateur. I could beat him even if I didn’t sleep for 5 weeks.”
Indeed, he stayed up late the night before the fight, he was so supremely confident. Tyson was also going through a lot of personal issues, such as relationship problems, a domestic abuse case, legal battles with his old manager and promotor, not to mention working with a new trainer.
Meanwhile, Buster Douglas lost his mother 23 days before the fight, the mother of his child had a serious kidney problem, and he himself caught flu the day before the fight. He had a lot to fight for, and a lot to prove.
The fight took place at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, on February 11th, 1990.
How the Fight Was Won/Lost
The fight was surprising from the start.
Tyson never really took control, and despite some nice powerful shots that Buster Douglas definitely felt, it was Douglas who had the best of things.
He used different tactics to stop Tyson getting inside where he was most dangerous, and showed a lot of unexpected aggression, catching Tyson with a particularly damaging right hook in the 5th round.
The star’s right eye was now badly swollen, but he did seem to be fighting more like his old self when he floored Douglas in the 8th.
Despite hitting the canvass after that nasty uppercut, Buster Douglas got back to his feet, and made Mike Tyson get back to work if he wanted to win this fight and remain undefeated.
With both fighters exhausted going into the 10th round, Tyson tried lining up another upper cut but missed, at which point Buster caught Tyson with a left jab that didn’t look like anything, but was enough to momentarily make Iron Mike lose his focus.
Douglas saw his opening and followed up with a strong right cross before landing another with his left, and from this point on he was just waiting for Tyson to give him another opening.
Soon after, Buster landed an uppercut of his own, leaving Tyson not quite knowing where he was. He continued coming with a couple of crosses that were not particularly hard, but were enough to put a dazed Tyson on the floor for the first time in his entire career.
And he wouldn’t manage to get back in the fight.
Barely making it to his feet by the count of ten, Tyson stumbled onto the referee who called the fight there and then. It was over.
This was 1990 so word didn’t travel quite as fast, and the few bookies who had taken bets on the win refused to pay out for a good hour until they had confirmed the fight had been won by Douglas.
They just couldn’t believe the result – although they all made a lot of money on what is still known as the biggest upset in the history of boxing.