Mike Tyson, This Day in Boxing

Mike Tyson KOs Pinklon Thomas This Day May 30, 1987


Mike Tyson KOs Pinklon Thomas This Day May 30, 1987 and retains the heavyweight crown




  • Mike Tyson 218¾ lbs
  • Pinklon Thomas 217¾ lbs
  • TKO at 2:00 in round 6 of 12
  • Location: Las Vegas Hilton, Outdoor Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
  • Referee: Carlos Padilla
  • Judge: Dalby Shirley 49-46
  • Judge: Gordon Volkman 50-44
  • Judge: Harry Gibbs 49-46
  • World Boxing Council Heavyweight Title (2nd defense by Tyson)
  • World Boxing Association Heavyweight Title (1st defense by Tyson)



Mike Tyson retained his World Boxing Council-World Boxing Association heavyweight title tonight, knocking out Pinklon Thomas at 2 minutes of the sixth round of their scheduled 12-round fight in the Las Vegas Hilton Outdoor Stadium.

The end came after a fast and furious first round by Tyson was defused by Thomas, who resorted to jab-and-grab tactics that left Tyson groping for a way out of his foe’s grasp.

For Tyson, the answer came abruptly in the sixth. He hurt Thomas with a right to the body, followed swiftly by a right uppercut to the chin. That punch sequence is a favorite of Tyson’s, and often produces great damage. But for Iron Mike, it was a left hook to Thomas’s head that put The Pink Man, as Thomas is called, in deep trouble.

When the left hook landed, Thomas reeled backward, with Tyson in hot pursuit. Tyson let his hands go, pounding Thomas with rights and lefts until Thomas, a 29-year-old fighter from Los Angeles, fell backward onto the canvas.

Thomas was glassy-eyed, and blood was streaming down his face. Referee Carlos Padilla leaned over Thomas and began his count. By the time he got to nine, Thomas’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, had climbed into the ring and was signaling that he wanted the fight ended. Padilla ended it, and the fight was officially declared a technical knockout.

In the preceding fight, Tony Tucker won the vacated International Boxing Federation heavyweight title when he stopped James (Buster) Douglas at 1 minute 36 seconds of the 10th round of a scheduled 15-rounder.

In winning the bout, Tucker earned the dubious prospect of fighting Tyson in the final of Home Box Office’s heavyweight unification series on Aug. 1 here.

Off his showing tonight, Tucker is no great threat to the 20-year-old Tyson. Tucker appears neither a clever enough fighter to avoid Tyson’s blows, nor a stiff enough puncher to discourage him. His ability to withstand a punch is suspect, too. Douglas, a clever but not overpowering fighter, shook him several times before fatigue began to set in.

Not that Tyson is without flaws. As James (Bonecrusher) Smith did in Tyson’s last title defense in March, Thomas was able to keep Tyson offstride, after the first round, with the jab-and-grab tactics.

When forced to fight at close quarters, Tyson becomes strangely inert. What’s more, against fighters who are prone to clinch, Tyson’s jab has proved inferior to the rest of his arsenal. The short-armed jab of the champion lacks the snap and frequency against opponents who clinch.

Against Thomas, Tyson came out with a bombs-away fight plan that nearly made an early evening of it.

He hurt Thomas and bloodied him with devastating lefts and rights, and seemed on the verge of finishing the former W.B.C. champion. But Thomas – who, as Tyson said afterward, took “a great shot” – survived the round and, rather than trade punches with Tyson, went to Plan B. That was a more conservative approach, and Thomas had his moments with it, using a heavy-handed jab to keep Tyson offstride and then tying him up when the Catskill, N.Y., slugger moved in. At times, he met the oncoming Tyson with short right hands. Mostly, though, he confounded Tyson by frequent clinches. When Tyson couldn’t find a way to stop the clinches, the crowd of 12,706 booed on more than one occasion.

Before the sixth round, Thomas had to change the glove of his left hand when, he said, the attached thumb on the glove began to come apart.

“The feeling of the new glove was awkward,” Thomas said. “What blew my mind was that glove. I thought I had a roll going with Mike.”

Tyson admitted he was not entirely satisfied with his performance.

“The fight didn’t go my way,” Tyson said. “I can’t make excuses. It was almost two bum fights in a row, which is no good financially.”

But the champion said he thought eventually he would get to Thomas.

“I knew it was not going to last,” Tyson said. “He didn’t have anything for me.”

Tyson revealed that his trainer, Kevin Rooney, was urging him between rounds to box more. But in the minute interval between the fifth and sixth rounds, Tyson said he asked Rooney for “one more round” to pursue his own approach. That approach was bombs-away. And it worked.

Now Tyson can look forward to the Tucker bout. While Tucker is not yet signed, his promoter, Cedric Kushner, indicated that he expected the negotiations to be resolved so that a unification bout would take place.

Whoever emerges as the victor in that Aug. 1 match would be the first unified champion since 1978, when Leon Spinks beat Muhammad Ali.

Of course, that title may be undercut even before the unified bout is waged. After Michael Spinks and Gerry Cooney meet on June 15 in Atlantic City in a bout billed as The Heavyweight Championship, the winner is likely to claim he is the real champion. While the Spinks-Cooney bout lacks the sanction of the three governing bodies of the sport – the W.B.C., W.B.A. and I.B.F. – the victory is expected to be recognized as the heavyweight champion by several state commissions.

With the victory, Tyson is now 30-0 with 27 knockouts. Thomas’s record goes to 29-2-1 with 24 knockouts.

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