Remembering Tyson's coronation as young king
To observe the 20 years that have passed since Mike Tyson turned pro, ESPN.com reviews significant fights in his career. In Part I, he becomes heavyweight champion at 20.
Mike Tyson returns to the ring Saturday (9 ET, Showtime PPV) when he meets Kevin McBride at the MCI Center in Washington. It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since he made his pro debut. He turned professional March 6, 1985, knocking out Hector Mercedes in the first round in Albany, N.Y., and it's been quite a ride since inside and outside of the ring as he became one of the most famous athletes on Earth. ESPN.com takes a look back at some of his most significant fights in this five-part retrospective.
It was Nov. 22, 1986, and the crowd of 8,800 at the Las Vegas Hilton had come for one thing: To see the crowning of the youngest-ever heavyweight champion of the world.
|Tyson At 20|
• Rafael: Meltdown | Return | Upset |Apex | Crown
• Rafael: 20 topics | McBride | Fenech | Camp
• Graham: Nelson | Hosea/Scaff | Long | Jaco | Green
• Gallery | Vote | Torres: Respect | Bayless: Marketer
• Tyson KOs: ESPN360 | Oddcast: Rafael preview
Tyson had already become a phenomenon, exciting sports fans more and more with each crushing knockout. But now, at 20 years, 4 months and 22 days, Tyson was ready to fight for the title and fulfill the prediction of his late trainer, Cus D'Amato, that he would become world champion.
D'Amato, who became Tyson's legal guardian in 1981, died before he could see Tyson win the title. But by winning the championship, Tyson surpassed another D'Amato protégé, Floyd Patterson, as the youngest man to ever wear one of sports' most coveted crowns.
"I'm sure he was up there watching," Tyson told reporters after his victory.
Not only did Tyson who improved to 28-0 with 26 KOs in just his 21st month as a professional fulfill his mentor's dream, he did it in an explosive fashion few will forget. Who doesn't remember the image of Trevor Berbick flopping around the ring like a fish out of water when he tried to get up from a devastating left hook to the jaw in the second round?
After Berbick survived a knockdown in the first few seconds of the second round, Tyson landed the title-winning left hook, essentially scoring three knockdowns with the single punch.
First Berbick fell from the hook. He tried to get up, but he was disoriented and fell again into the corner. Berbick tried to get up yet again, but his legs again betrayed him and he fell across the ring again, crashing into the ropes, at which point referee Mills Lane had no choice but to stop the fight.
Immediately after the fight, Tyson described his punches. "I was throwing hydrogen bombs," he told ring-side reporters.
After barely more than 5½ minutes of work, Tyson had ripped the title away from Berbick and a new era of heavyweight boxing began.
"I told everybody I expected an early knockout, because I believe in myself," Tyson said at the time. "It's the moment I waited for all my life."
Tyson's clinical destruction of Berbick was a portent of things to come. Tyson, now the "Baddest Man on the Planet," would go on to make nine title defenses and become the undisputed champion in his electric and often turbulent 36-month title reign, one that came crashing to an end when he met someone named Buster Douglas in Tokyo.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.