Atlantic City was all set to witness one of the biggest heavyweight showdowns yet. Then 21-year-old Mike Tyson (Video)

January 22, 1988, the stage at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City was all set to witness one of the biggest heavyweight showdowns yet. Then 21-year-old Mike Tyson (50-6-2, 44 KOs) placed his WBA, WBC, and IBF heavyweight titles on the lines as he locked horns with Larry Holmes (69-6, 44 KOs). However, this fight had an iconic backstory that would give sports movies a run for their money. As Tyson vs. Holmes turns 36, here is a recap of the fight that was rightfully called ‘Heavyweight History.’



Tyson was fresh off a 7th-round TKO victory against Tyrell Biggs (30-10, 20 KOs) when he was pitted against Holmes.

‘The Easton Assassin,’ on the other hand, had lost his previous two fights against Michael Spinks (31-1, 21 KOs). Moreover, he had defeated boxing legend Muhammad Ali (56-5, 37 KOs) a few years prior—a loss that Ali had not forgotten. Ali went inside the ring to wish both fighters ahead of the fight but he had a few words in particular for Tyson. “Remember what you said, get him for me,” he said.

These words were enough to set Tyson off like a cannonball. He was sure to showcase his boxing prowess from the get-go and dominated most of the first three rounds despite Holmes trying to slow him down. The fourth round saw Holmes get back at Tyson by hitting him multiple times with a left jab. However, the young Tyson quickly picked himself up and took Holmes to the ropes. He then went on to hit Holmes with a left jab–right-hook combination, quickly sending him to the canvas.

While the world witnessed one of the most iconic showdowns in boxing history, many believed that Holmes was too old to be pitted against a prime Tyson. HBO analyst Larry Merchant even referred to the matchup as “a bull in an antique shop.”

A promise was made



The fight was a culmination of a promise that Tyson made Ali years prior.

Ali faced Holmes at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1980. He came out of a 2-year hiatus for the showdown, billed as ‘The Last Hurrah!’. But Ali’s advancing Parkinson’s made it hard for him to keep up with the younger Holmes. He was defeated in the tenth round via a stoppage.

Tyson, then 14, watched the fight live on TV with his trainer, Cus D’Amato. He was crushed to see his idol losing the fight in that manner.

“Cus had wanted me to beat him so bad. I was offended by how bad he beat up Ali,” Tyson recalled. “He said to Ali, ‘I have this young black kid who is going to be heavyweight champion someday, and I want you to talk to him.’”

D’Amato then handed the phone over to Tyson, who made a promise to the boxing legend.

“When I grow up, I’ll fight Holmes, and I’ll get him back for you,” he said.

Now, 36 years later, Tyson vs. Holmes remains one of the most sensational fights in boxing history, not only as a spectacle of Tyson’s pugilistic prowess but also a reminder of the vow to one of the greatest boxers of all time.

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