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The Biggest Upset in Boxing History: Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson

Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson in the biggest upset in boxing history
Credit-HBO Sports/Getty Images/Joker Mag Illustration

On February 11th, 1990, James “Buster” Douglas pulled off the most stunning upset in the history of boxing.

Fans at the Tokyo Dome were shocked when the 42-to-1 underdog landed a 10-round knockout over the previously undefeated Mike Tyson.

Video Transcript

Eric Thomas: It was just like a little boxing match. But it was like, life-changing, right?

And so y’all know who Mike Tyson is.

At this point, Mike Tyson had never lost a fight. And this cat used to come out with like black shoes, no socks, little shorts, and within like one or two rounds you’re knocked out.

Like everybody, he just ‘bop bop’ and they’re just droppin’ to the ground. If you didn’t catch Mike Tyson’s fight like in the first or second round, you missed the whole thing.

But this was a little different. This guy right here Buster Douglas…matter of fact, the reports say that Mike wasn’t even supposed to fight him. He was supposed to fight somebody else, but this was like a fight in between until he could fight I guess Holyfield or whoever he was trying to fight.

So Buster Douglas was a no-name.

But the crazy thing – when you study the story – is that this dude’s mom had told everybody at the beauty shop that her son was gonna beat Mike Tyson. She’s braggin’, right. He’s like “Ma, chill out, this is Mike Tyson. He knockin’ folk out, like don’t do that, ya know. Keep your mouth shut.”

“Mike Tyson can’t handle my baby.” Her baby ain’t won more than about seven or eight fights, you know what I’m sayin’? Mike Tyson is like undefeated.

But what happened was, just a couple days before the actual fight, his mom dies. Right. I need you to hear what I’m sayin’. Just a couple nights before the fight, Buster Douglas’ mom died.

And so Buster Douglas was like, “Look, moms died. Moms was braggin’. I gotta win this fight.”

So Mike Tyson knocked my man out. Nobody in the history of boxing – when Mike knocked you out, nobody gets up. Nobody gets up.

This dude gets to about eight, nine, he like kind of just, you know, barely up. My man was like, “Are you straight? Can you go on? Cause I’m tellin’ you, Mike ’bout to knock you out.”

He was like, “I’m good. I’m good, I can do it. I got this one.”

Right. So he gets up. They’re fightin’ again. And I don’t know what happened, but somewhere around the 10th round, my man Buster Douglas does what no fighter has ever done in the history of Mike Tyson fights. He knocks Mike Tyson out.

HBO Announcer: …Douglas…down goes Tyson!

Referee: …Two!…Three!…Four!…Five!…Six!…Seven…Eight!…

HBO Color Commentator: He’s…he’s…it’s over! It’s over!

HBO Announcer: Mike Tyson has been knocked out!

HBO Color Commentator: Unbelievable!

HBO Announcer: Let’s go ahead and call it the biggest upset in the history of heavyweight championship fights. Say it now gentlemen, James “Buster” Douglas – undisputed heavyweight champion of the world!

Eric Thomas: And they asked Buster Douglas at the end, they say, “How in the world did you beat Mike Tyson?”

He said, “Cause I promised my momma before she died that I was gonna beat him.”

Written By

Division III baseball alum (McDaniel College) and founder of Joker Mag. Sharing underdog stories to inspire the next generation.



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