This Day in Boxing August 1, 1987 Tyson Beats Tucker
Mike Tyson becomes undisputed heavyweight champion
Mike Tyson 221 lbs beat Tony Tucker 221 lbs by UD in round 12 of 12
Location: Las Vegas Hilton, Hilton Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Referee: Mills Lane
Judge: Julio Roldan 118-113
Judge: Phil Newman 119-111
Judge: Bill Graham 117-112
Ring Announcer: Chuck Hull
Aired On: HBO (Main Event)
World Boxing Council Heavyweight Title (3rd defense Tyson)
World Boxing Association Heavyweight Title (2nd defense of Tyson)
International Boxing Federation Heavyweight Title (1st defense of Tucker)
Punching his way through unexpected resistance, Mike Tyson became the first man to unify the three major heavyweight titles. Tyson wore down Tony Tucker with hard jabs and body shots, and either blocked, slipped, or countered most of his opponent’s punches.
Tucker’s best moment came in the early in the opening round when a short left hook to the head backed up Tyson and seemed to hurt him. Tucker fired a following right, but Tyson evaded and quickly resumed his forward attack. Tyson established himself as the stronger puncher in the next few rounds, and dominated the middle of the fight. A right to the jaw lifted Tucker’s left leg off the canvas in the fifth, and a hard right to the jaw shook Tucker in the corner in the sixth. Tyson again rattled Tucker with a left to the head in the ninth round, and a left to the jaw wobbled Tucker in the furious final round.
Tucker tried to showboat with bolo punches and shuffling his feet. The strategy failed, however, as Tyson nailed him in return and picked up his attack each time.
Neither fighter was cut or noticeably marked.
Mike Tyson 30-0 (27 KOs) vs. Tony Tucker 34-0 (29 KOs)
Tyson became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
Tucker entered as a 9 to 1 betting underdog.
The bout was originally scheduled for 15 rounds, but was changed to 12 the day before the fight.
It was the final fight in HBO’s heavyweight unification tournament. The winner of Mike Tyson vs. Pinklon Thomas was supposed to meet the winner of Michael Spinks vs. Tony Tucker, but Spinks pulled out of the tournament and accepted a fight against Gerry Cooney. Spinks was subsequently stripped of his title. Tony Tucker won the title just two months prior with a tenth round stoppage of James (Buster) Douglas.
Two weeks prior to the fight, Tyson left training camp for four days amid speculation that he was upset with his trainer, Kevin Rooney.
In June of 1987, Tyson was accused of bear-hugging a female parking lot attendant and demanding a kiss, and then striking with his open palm a male parking lot supervisor who came to her defense. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon (hands) and battery, both of which are misdemeanors. The case was settled out of court and Tyson paid $105,000.
Tucker had to overcome some legal obstacles a few days prior to the fight as he was served with legal documents by Dennis Rappaport, who owned 21 percent of his managerial contract, for unpaid dues from his past four fights totaling $540,000.
Bert Sugar reported on “Ringside Remembers” that Tucker broke his hand in the 4th round. Tucker later admitted he injured the hand in training prior to the bout and badly re-injured it during the fight. Some thought he should delay the fight, but Tucker felt he would have been blackballed if he pulled out, considering Spinks had done so a few months prior.
In a tasteless ceremony dubbed “the coronation” by promoter Don King, an embarrassed Tyson was wrapped in a chinchilla robe, handed a jeweled scepter, and topped with a crown that King described as studded with “baubles, rubies and fabulous doodads.”
Mike Tyson, a 12 to 1 betting favorite, earned $2.5 million for the fight, while Tucker made an estimated $1.9 million.
HBO’s Larry Merchant scored the bout 117-112 in favor of Tyson.
“I was trying my best to punch inside, but I guess it wasn’t together today and he was very intimidated and it was very tough. He did a great deal of holding. He threw very fast punches.” Tyson admitted that Tucker rocked him in the first round. “Yes he did. He’s a very hard puncher. After it hit me, it was history. It went away. I was thinking that because he was very intimidated and he was freezing every once in a while, I was thinking I would get him with a good right hand. As long as you make mistakes, you have no reason to be happy. I’m a perfectionist. I want to be perfect and I was trying to use my jab more and I was just a little confused because he was holding a lot. I stopped be frustrated and I just started jabbing most through the round.” – Mike Tyson
“Well, I don’t know really. You’ll have to talk to Jim Jacobs right here. He handles all that. I fight whoever my manager wants me to fight. I’m just a fighter. I do what he tells me to do.” – Tyson when asked if planned to fight Michael Spinks.
“Words cannot really describe what I feel for that Tony Tucker. I think what he displayed tonight was the fact that he was a non-conformist. He did what a lot of us didn’t the he could do and that’s why I respect the man so much. He boxed, he clinched. he fought a very strategic, a very technical, a very intelligent fight.” – Sugar Ray Leonard
“His own boredom could be a problem. He could stay on top a long time—if that’s what he wants. That’s a big ‘if.’ That’s up to him. He’s under a lot of pressure, and the next few years will be a problem. He won’t mature until he’s 25.” – Kevin Rooney on Tyson
“It was a classic fight between two undefeated guys with punching power. I’m looking for a rematch. Mike is a great fighter. He put on a helluva show.” – Tony Tucker
“My right hand was broken when I fought him I knew Tyson couldn’t beat me. A couple days before I was sparring against a guy named Young Joe Louis. This guy was doing a lot of talking bad about me. I heard this from my sparring partners. So I chose him to spar against first because I was gonna put him down. I was hitting him real good when I heard a pop in my hand When I went back to the corner I knew I had hurt it bad. The doctor said I had a small hand fracture. They said I would need therapy and to not use it for ten days. I had to fight Tyson in less than that. I went in determined though. I was very apprehensive to attack Tyson due to the hand. I hit him with a right uppercut early and my hand just shattered. It was the worst pain ever. I still went on though, that’s why I did all those antics and everything. I was supposed to beat this guy, but how could I with one hand. With two hands I would have knocked Mike Tyson out. I regret that I fought Tyson not fully healthy. If I would have postponed the fight, I may have been blackballed. I wouldn’t sign with Don King back then and he was running things. So looking back now, I just wish I was healthy.” – Tony Tucker in a 2008 interview with BoxingInsider.com.