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Mike Tyson Feature

13 Most Brutal Knockouts of Mike Tyson’s Career

It’s safe to say the knockouts Mike Tyson dished out in the late 80s and 90s were among boxing’s most brutal. Iron Mike had a notorious reputation in the heavyweight division, stemming from for his ability to put on a show, which usually involved putting people to sleep rather quickly. In fact, Tyson began his professional career 19-0, with 12 of his first 19 wins resulting in knockouts. Fans love a fighter who hits hard and none hit harder than Tyson.

Here is a list of the 13 Best Mike Tyson knockouts to help you relive the memories, from his most impressive, his first knockout, and everything in between.

1. Michael Spinks

Many will argue this isn’t the most impressive knockout of Tyson’s career, but it’s certainly the most important. Iron Mike put three belts on the line for this fight against the future Hall of Famer Michael Spinks, a fighter who had never touched the deck. The tables were set and as Donald Trump and Muhammed Ali exited the ring following introductions, the fight took a sharp right turn for Spinks. Hitting him with a big body blow that put Spinks down on the deck for the first time in his career, Spink’storture continued, before being cut short just over 90 seconds into the bout.

Date: 27 June 1988
Location: Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Pre-fight record: 34-0 (30 KO)
KO Round: 1st

2. Marvis Frazier

Frazier was one of Mikes quickest knockouts. Both fighters found pleasure in crippling their opponents and both had majority wins under their belt. The son of ‘Smokin Joe’ Frazier, Marvis Frazier had only one loss under his belt at the time, and understandably, fans tipped this as a major, but it didn’t pan out. This battle wasn’t even close, with a flurry of heavy punches, Tyson knocked out Frazier in 30 seconds flat, once again proving why he’s not all hype.

Date: 26 July 1986
Location: Civic Center, Glens Falls, New York, U.S.
Pre-fight record: 25-0
KO Round:

3. Don Halpin

Tyson’s first knockout may have been his most controversial. Halpin came into the fight with a below-average record of 10 wins to 18 losses, but the veteran used his tactics to survive the first few rounds. Tyson, on the other hand, came into the fight slow and steady. The commentators even gave Tyson a bit of stick, implying “It’s almost as if his corner have said to him, ‘Listen, you don’t have to win every fight inside one round'”. The match made its way into the fourth round, where Tyson hits Halpin with a flurry of punches, sending Halpin to the canvas. Tyson finishes off Halpin with a punch while he’s already on his way down to the floor, sparking the first piece of controversy for Tyson’s career.

Date: 23 May 1985
Location: Albany, New York, U.S.
Pre-fight record: 3-0
KO Round: 4th

4. Michael Johnson

Iron Mike was just 19 years old when he got his first, first-round knockout. This fight against Johnson wasn’t the spectacle of the likes of Spinks, but it was Tyson’s quickest knockout to date. Lasting just over 30 seconds, it was a quick fight and not overly surprising. Johnson had a tendency to get knocked out, with his previous six bouts resulting in four losing knock outs. Tyson clocks Johnson with a left hook that sends him down. Mike comes back seconds later with a big right that ends the fight rather abruptly.

Date: 5 September 1985
Location: Atlantis Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
Pre-fight record: 8-0
KO Round: 1st

5. Larry Holmes

Tyson spent much of his time travelling with mentor Cus D’Amato, watching Muhammed Ali fight. It was the fight between Ali and Holmes at Caesars Palace that stuck in Tyson’s head the most. Legend has it, Mike couldn’t stand to watch his idol Ali get mauled by Holmes while he was in a deteriorating state. In a car ride home after the fight, Mike speaks to Ali over the phone and promises to seek Ali’s vengeance, “When I grow up, I’ll fight Holmes and I’ll get him back for you”.

Fast forward again through Mike’s amateur and professional career and the stage gets set for an event billed as ‘Heavyweight History’. The 38-year-old Holmes was tempted out of retirement by a $3 million offer from Don King to face the undefeated Tyson. The match was set, Ali was courtside, and Iron Mike did his thing. It took just four rounds for Tyson to prove he was too fast, too strong and too good for the former heavyweight champion. Tyson dropped Holmes twice before the fight was called off and Holmes was knocked out for the first time in his career. Mike lived up to his promise.

Date: 22 January 1988
Location: Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Pre-fight record: 33-0
KO Round: 4th

6. Henry Tillman

After suffering the first professional loss of his career, Tyson was desperate to respond in the only way he knew how. Vicious and quick. Tillman was one of Tyson’s biggest threats, a Gold medallist himself, he had beaten Mike twice at an amateur level. In reality, Mike was just too good for Tillman, owning him from the first bell. He lasted longer than some but Tillman didn’t stand a chance. Mike wanted his vengeance and you could feel it in every blow. Tyson ended the fight with a hard right after just 2:47mins.

Date: 16 June 1990
Location: Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
Pre-fight record: 38-1
KO Round:

7. Trevor Berbick

There wasn’t a moment during this fight that Tyson looked like he’d take a back seat. Twenty years old at the time, he was the top-ranked fighter and held the WBA and WBC heavyweight titles. Berbick was Tyson’s challenger for the WBC title, though he didn’t really have a chance. Mike sent Berbick to the canvas twice during the fight, dominating with combination moves before ending him with a right hook in the second round.

Date: 22 November 1986
Location: Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Pre-fight record: 28-0
KO Round: 2nd

8. Frank Bruno

Reminiscent of some of the fights we see today, Bruno and Tyson kept getting pushed back and postponed, which led to a great deal of build-up. The fight was initially supposed to take place in October but didn’t end up taking place until February the following year. Bruno shocked Tyson out of the gate, almost knocking down Mike in the first round. It didn’t take much time for Tyson to turn it around, putting Bruno against the ropes and the unleashing a series of right uppercuts. The referee ended the fight instantly.

Date: 25 February 1989
Location: Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S.
Pre-fight record: 36-0
KO Round: 5th

9. Francois Botha

In this fight, Mike demonstrated why he was the baddest man on the planet. This might be the greatest example of why Tyson’s fights were more than a spectacle. His first fight back after biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear, the pre-fight introductions started with Mike emerging to DMX’s ‘It’s Dark And Hell is Hot’ while sporting a hat and t-shirt that read ‘Be real’. The look on his face said everything, he meant business. It took him a bit longer than he’d like (5 rounds) to knockout out Botha but as he said in a post-match interview, “I knew I was going to knock him out. It was just a matter of time”.

Date: 16 January 1999
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
Pre-fight record: 46-3
KO Round: 5th

10. Carl Williams

Carl Williams and Mike Tyson were familiar with each other. They spent some time in their youth sparing,  where Williams was showed he was able to control Tyson with a sharp jab and occasional right cross. This time around it was a different Carl Williams and a very, very different Mike Tyson. A controversial knockout, Mike snuck a punch when he moved his head to the left and then countered Williams with a left hook straight to the jaw caught Williams on the jaw. The hook sent the challenger down to the canvas, the referee took one look at Williams and the fight was stopped.

Date: 21 July 1989
Location: Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
Pre-fight record: 37-0
KO Round: 1st

11. Clifford Etienne

Tyson’s 50th and final victory came during a murky point of his career. The fight was billed as ‘back to business’, coming off Tyson’s final title contest loss against Lennox Lewis months prior. It was pretty evident that Tyson was missing something at this stage of his career, but he hadn’t lost his aggression. Etienne swung for Tyson with a left-jab right-hand combo that missed the mark and Tyson capitalised with a left hand that missed before finishing Etienne with a right hand that sent him onto the canvas.

Date: 22 February 2003
Location: The Pyramid, Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Pre-fight record: 50-4
KO Round: 1st

12. Buster Mathis Jr.

This was Mike’s second fight since returning from Prison. It was billed as a bit of a ‘tune-up’ of sorts for Mike to make a proper run at the Heavyweight Championship. Mathis comes out of the gate strong, making a concerted effort to smother Tyson. This was short lives, and Iron Mike sent him packing with an uppercut in the third round.

Date: 16 December 1995
Location: CoreStates Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Pre-fight record: 43-1
KO Round: 3rd

13. Tony Tubbs

This fight was a mere step up of sorts for Tyson’s world title tour. It saw Tyson with a 33-0 (29 KO’s) record match up against Tubbs 24-1 (15 KO’s). A bit of a slugfest at first, Tubbs did a decent job at landing a couple of jabs on Tyson and protecting himself by keeping his gloves up for much of the contest. Unfortunately for Tubbs, by the second round, the stomach hits started to show their effect. Tubbs desperately sent combos at Tyson before he got caught lacking, opening up a chance for Mike to send a left hook his way. The challenger stumbled for a moment before falling onto the canvas.

Date: 21 March 1988
Location: Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
Pre-fight record: 33-0
KO Round: 2nd

General FAQ

When was Mike Tyson's first professional fight?

Tyson's first fight was against Hector Mercedes on the 6th of March 1985. The fight was held at the Plaza Convention Center, Albany, New York, U.S. Tyson won in a first-round TKO decision. He was only 18 years old at the time.

When was Mike Tyson's first KO?

Mike's first knockout was against Don Halpin on the 23rd of May 1985. He knocked Halpin out in the 4th round. Tyson was just 18 years old.

What fight did Mike Tyson bite Holyfield's ear?

Tyson took a bite out of Holyfield's ear on the 28th of June 1997 in Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson II.