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Today in Sports History: 2/11 | Buster Douglas KO’s Mike Tyson

Today in sports history (1990), Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in one of the biggest upsets in sports history. Tyson had 42:1 odds to win the fight. Douglas came in with a 29-4-1 record, with 19 knockouts. On paper, he looked completely outmatched, as Tyson was the undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion. Tyson entered the fight with a 37-0 record with 33 knockouts.

Even with Tyson’s reputation tarnishing his legacy, he was still the best boxer in the world at the time. In fact, he had knocked out Carl Williams in 93 seconds in his previous fight. This fight was expected to be somewhat of the same, as analysts Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley described it to be “another 90-second annihilation” before the fight began.

Buster Douglas KO's Mike Tyson Boxing
Credit: Michael Brennan/Iconic Images

Buster Douglas Shocks the World By Knocking Out Mike Tyson

Once again, the storyline surrounding this fight was Tyson’s ferocity. With such great odds, it seemed like Tyson should have no problem with Douglas. That quickly changed as the fight opened. Douglas came out fierce and used his quick jabs to prevent Tyson from hitting him hard inside. Tyson, who was known for working so well inside the body, found trouble as Douglas would quickly tie him up. Early in the fight, Douglas landed more punches than Tyson, including a shot to the chin right before the second round ended.

In the third round, Tyson began with a left punch that seemed to hurt Douglas. Douglas was able to recover though and last the third round. Sugar Ray Leonard, who was commentating the fight, noted Douglas’ success with his jabs and right hand punches. Douglas continued to be the leader of the fight, well into the middle rounds. A huge part of the fight occurred when one of Douglas’ jabs caught Tyson in the eye. Tyson’s eye began to swell, making it difficult to see Douglas’ jabs and punches. Tyson’s corner was not prepared for this and had to use a rubber glove filled with ice to reduce the swelling.

In the waning seconds of the eighth round, Tyson hit Douglas with an uppercut that knocked the challenger down. Controversy struck as many, including Don King, said that the referee gave Douglas a long count. Tyson tried to capitalize on this in the ninth, coming out aggressive. Douglas countered this and eventually was able to close Tyson’s eye with another jab.

In the tenth round, Tyson, who was hurting, attempted to win the match with a knockout. Douglas once again countered and landed an uppercut that stunned Tyson. Douglas immediately followed this with four punches to the head, knocking down Tyson for the first time in his career. Referee Octavio Meyran called the fight off and Douglas was the new heavyweight champion.


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