Mike Tyson, This Day in Boxing

This Day August 1, 1987 Mike Tyson Beats Tony Tucker

Mike Tyson Beats Tony Tucker This Day August 1, 1987

Mike Tyson Unifies the heavyweight championship




Mike Tyson 221 lbs

Tony Tucker 221 lbs

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

World Boxing Council Heavyweight Title (3rd defense by Tyson)

World Boxing Association Heavyweight Title (2nd defense by Tyson)

International Boxing Federation Heavyweight Title (1st defense by Tucker)



This was the final fight of HBO’s heavyweight unification tournament. When the series was formally announced in January 1986, the network planned to spend six million for a seven-fight series. But with various contingencies, the series increased to 10 fights that cost HBO $22 million.

Originally, the WBA/WBC champion was going to face the winner of a fight between Michael Spinks, the IBF champion, and Tony Tucker, the IBF’s No. 1 contender, in the tournaments final. However, instead of facing Tucker, Spinks chose to fight Gerry Cooney for a much larger purse and was stripped of the title on February 26, 1987. Three months later, on the undercard of Mike Tyson vs. Pinklon Thomas, Tucker defeated James (Buster) Douglas, the IBF’s No. 2 contender, by a 10th-round TKO to win the vacant IBF heavyweight title.

On June 21, 1987, after attending a rap concert in Los Angeles, Tyson was accused of bear-hugging a female parking lot attendant, 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 (his hands) and battery, both of which were misdemeanors. Tyson settled the case out of court for $105,000.

A couple of weeks before the fight, there was a report that Tyson had skipped out of his Las Vegas training camp for four days to visit actress Robin Givens in Los Angeles. It was also reported that there was discord in the Tyson camp. Tyson’s managers, Jim Jacobs and Bill Cayton, had allegedly approached Eddie Futch about replacing Kevin Rooney as Tyson’s trainer. Tyson and his camp denied the reports.

Tyson earned approximately $2.5 million, while Tucker’s purse was an estimated $1.9 million. However, according to HBO, Tucker made just $600,000 before taxes. The rest of his purse was owed to various people: Cedric Kushner, his former promoter, received $350,000; Josephine Abercrombie and Jeff Levine got $350,000 (They helped underwrite Kushner’s investment); silent partners Dennis Rappaport and Alan Kornberg took $252,000 (Rappaport wanted $540,000 and unsuccessfully tried to stop the fight to get it); Bob Tucker, his father and trainer, picked up $228,000; and Emanuel Steward, his first manager, collected $120,000.

The fight was originally scheduled for 15 rounds, but it was reduced to a 12 rounds after the three governing bodies met and approved the change on the morning of July 31.

There was a crowd of 7,419.

Tyson entered the ring as an 11 to 1 betting favorite.

According to CompuBox, Tyson landed 216 of 412 total punches (52 percent), while Tucker connected on 174 of 452 (39 percent).

Tyson unified the WBC, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles, becoming the “undisputed” heavyweight champion of the world. However, the lineal champion was still Michael Spinks, who was at the fight. As a publicity stunt, he sat in the last role of the bleachers.

HBO commentator Larry Merchant scored the bout 117-112 in favor of Tyson. He gave rounds one, three and 12 to Tucker, called the eighth even and scored the rest for Tyson.

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