Mike Tyson KOs Trevor Berbick This Day November 22, 1986 With Rare Post Fight Interview
- Mike Tyson 221¼ lbs
- Trevor Berbick 218½ lbs
- TKO at 2:35 in round 2 of 12
- Location: Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Referee: Mills Lane
- Judge: Harry Gibbs 10-8
- Judge: Dave Moretti 10-9
- Judge: Rudy Ortega 10-9
By Phil Berger, The New York Times, November 23, 1986
The 20-year-old slugger from Catskill, N.Y., became the youngest heavyweight champion ever when he stopped Trevor Berbick at 2:35 of the second round of a scheduled 12-round bout.
In taking away Berbick’s World Boxing Council crown, Tyson knocked Berbick down twice, both times in the second round, pounding him so hard that he had Berbick reeling across the ring at the end in a nearly comic loop-de-loop.
The damage in the second round started with Tyson knocking Berbick to the canvas with a series of blows that ended with a left hook. Berbick dropped backward onto the canvas but rose quickly and signaled Mills Lane, the referee, that he was all right.
But he was not all right. He showed it by trying to tie up Tyson in clinches and slow him down. He even hit the powerful challenger on a break and drew a warning from Lane.
The end came late in the round when Tyson’s left hook landed on Berbick’s temple. Berbick, experiencing a delayed reaction, finally fell onto the seat of his shorts.
Trying to regain his feet, Berbick stumbled toward the ropes near his corner and fell. His arms flailed as he sought to right himself. He lurched back toward where he had fallen originally, in the center of the ring, and fell again.
Once more he sought to get to his feet, stumbling toward a neutral corner. By now Lane’s count had reached 9, and Berbick had climbed off the canvas and onto his feet.
But after Lane took a quick look at Berbick he threw his arms around him and stopped the bout.
Tyson’s co-manager, Jim Jacobs, said that Tyson’s first words to him as Jacobs climbed into the ring were: “Do you think Cus would have liked that?”
The new champion’s reference was to Cus D’Amato, the veteran trainer and manager to whom Tyson was paroled in 1980, at age 14, from a juvenile detention facility in upstate New York.
D’Amato took Tyson into the 14-room Victorian house in which he lived in Catskill and became a force in the youth’s life, educating him as a fighter and as a person. Eventually, D’Amato became the fighter’s legal guardian. He died of pneumonia at age 77 last November. By then, Tyson regarded him as his father.
In the ring after the bout, Tyson said that he had dedicated the fight to D’Amato.
Still in the ring, Tyson told his corner: “I’m the youngest heavyweight champion of the world and I’m going to be the oldest.” Tyson has now won all 28 of his fights, 26 by knockout.
In becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history, Tyson, who turned 20 years old on June 30, broke the record previously held by Floyd Patterson. Patterson was 21 years 11 months old when he knocked out Archie Moore in November 1956 to win the heavyweight title. Like Tyson, Patterson was trained by D’Amato.
Berbick never had a chance against Tyson, who dominated him from the opening bell. “It was my best fight,” said Tyson afterward. “I was so intense. I was out for blood. I refused to be beat. I couldn’t be denied tonight.”
For his part, Berbick seemed tight and unsure of himself. Jacobs attributed it to “the Joe Louis syndrome.”
“I believe sincerely,” said Jacobs, “that Mike creates an aura of invincibility. I have watched Trevor Berbick on tapes. And this Trevor Berbick was nothing like the Trevor Berbick I have watched. He fought as if he was in slow motion.”
Tyson now moves on in the Home Box Office heavyweight unification series. He is scheduled to meet the winner of the Dec. 12 match between Tim Witherspoon, the World Boxing Association champion, and Tony Tubbs, the challenger. The bout between the W.B.C. and W.B.A. champions is to take place here March 7, it was announced earlier this week.
The winner of that bout would move to the unification final against the International Boxing Federation champion, Michael Spinks, in a fight expected to be staged in May.
Tyson turned pro in March 1985 and quickly acquired a reputation as a devastating puncher. He won his first 19 fights by knockouts, and while most of those victories came against obscure opponents like Trent Singleton, Sterling Benjamin and John Alderson, the authority with which he finished his foes excited boxing fans.
Eventually, Tyson became a news media phenomenon and was given more established opponents to fight. While he did not knock out all of them – there were, for instance, successive 10-round decisions over James (Quick) Tillis and Mitch (Blood) Green this past May – he scored his share of knockouts, too. Jesse Ferguson, Marvis Frazier, Jose Ribalta and Alfonzo Ratliff all were recent knockout victims of Tyson’s.
Berbick, like Tyson, spoke to reporters after the bout. The loser’s skin was reddened beneath and to the side of his right eye.
He called Tyson a very good puncher, saying, “He’s quick and he punches very hard.”
Tyson, who weighed 221 1/4 pounds, reportedly earned $1.5 million for the fight. The defeated champion, who weighed 218 1/2 pounds, got $2.1 million. Berbick, a 33-year-old Jamaican who lives in Miramar, Fla., is now 31-5-1.