Mike Tyson returns to the ring this weekend at age 54 to take on Roy Jones Jnr at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles.
At his peak, Iron Mike simply destroyed opponents, cutting a swath through the heavyweight ranks in the late 1980s and again – after serving time in prison – in the late 1990s with his power and fury.
A short right, a formidable right hook, a devastating left hook … Tyson had it all.
Here’s 10 of his best knockout punches.
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10. KO4 Don Halpin (May 23, 1985. Albany, New York.)
While not among his most famous knockouts, this finish gets a mention because it came in only Tyson’s third professional fight, and while still only 18. Also gave us a glimpse of the mayhem to come when, with Halpin already floored, a young Tyson then cracks him on the canvas with yet another uppercut. Wonderfully, the commentator described said punch simply as “questionable”.
9. KO1, Peter McNeeley, (August 19th, 1995)
After his time in prison and four years out of the ring, it was only fair to question whether Tyson would be a lesser fighter once he returned. McNeeley was a solid fighter, but he was also a sacrificial lamb and Tyson ripped him apart in 89 seconds of thunderous blows that ended with McNeeley staggering across the ring and his trainer flying beyond the ropes in an effort to save his charge from more punishment. Technically, it’s in the books as a disqualification, but after four years in jail it was exactly what Tyson needed to show he was still one of the most dangerous men boxing has ever known.
8. KO1 Clifford Etienne (Feb. 22, 2003, Memphis, Tennessee)
The last knockout of Tyson’s career. It took the former champion just 99 seconds to wipe out “The Black Rhino” in what proved to be the last showing of the fearsome power and speed that once dominated the boxing world. Tyson showed little of his old precision but plenty of fury as Etienne walked directly onto a short right that sent his eyes rolling into the back of his head.
7. KO5 Francois Botha (Jan. 16, 1999, Las Vegas)
One right hand, as they say in the classics, is all it takes. And so it was in this one. Sure, Tyson struggled so badly through the opening four rounds of this one it seemed, well, the magic was gone. Then, thwack. Back for the first time in 19 months after serving his suspension for biting the ear of Evander Holyfield, Tyson delivered in cracking right hand late in the fifth to drop Botha, win the fight and conjure of wonderful blast of violence from his past.
6. KO1 Alan Garner (June 5, 2009. Las Vegas)
OK, so isn’t exactly on any of his official boxing records, but given Mike Tyson is fighting this weekend aged, 54, we’re also going to take a little licence with his ‘Greatest Knockouts’ list. Certainly there is no doubting the devastating right that floored actor Zach Galifianakis’s character in The Hangover movie remains an undeniable fan favourite. Better, the scene breathed new life into the fighter’s Baddest Man on the Planet aura. Oh, yeah, the heavyweight king was also deep into a cocaine bender when said punch was thrown. Classic Mike.
5. KO1 Henry Tillman (June 16, 1990, Las Vegas)
Some of these knockouts made the list because of their significance to Tyson’s career. Others made the cut because of the calibre of fighter Tyson managed to bring down. And some, like this one-round massacre of Henry Tillman, are just awesome. Tyson and Tillman had a bit of history – Tillman beat Tyson as an amateur twice, both by decision – and given Tyson was coming off the first loss of his career he didn’t need any extra motivation. After 2:47 of the first round, Tyson’s right hand found the mark and one hammer blow was all it took as Tillman went down like he was shot.
4. KO4 Larry Holmes (Jan. 22, 1988, Atlantic City, New Jersey)
Holmes might have been coming off a two-year layoff after losing two decisions to Michael Spinks, but he was still one of the most decorated heavyweights of his era and throughout his sterling career he’d never been knocked out. Like most of Tyson’s finest moments, one punch was all it took – a short, right hook in the fourth round sent Holmes flying. The former champion beat the count, but the writing was on the wall and a flurry from Tyson sent him down again before another right hook turned out the lights.
3. KO1 Marvis Frazier (July 26, 1986, Glens Falls, New York)
Fastest KO of Iron Mike’s career. In just 30 seconds, Tyson not only destroyed the son of former heavyweight world champion Joe Frazier, or took his undefeated run to 25 fights, but took a big step towards confirming that growing reputation as a genuine killer.
2. TKO2 Trevor Berbick (Nov. 22, 1986, Las Vegas)
It was the night Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. Aged only 20, the young heavyweight came good on the predictions of his late trainer, and guardian, Cus D’Amato, when he demolished his rival with a devastating left hook. Three times, Berbick tried to find his feet. Three times, he failed. By the finish, tumbling into the ring ropes as the bout was waved off.
1. KO1 Michael Spinks (June 27, 1988, Atlantic City, New Jersey)
Mike Tyson needed just 91 seconds to confirm himself the Baddest Man of the Planet. Apart from being the most important win of Iron Mike’s career, it was also the moment which, undoubtedly, defined the Iron Mike mystique. Sure, Tyson already had three belts – but Spinks also arrived for what was then the richest fight in history undefeated in 31 fights, while also having claimed both light heavyweight titles and the IBF heavyweight strap. Didn’t matter. Within less time than it took to announce the dignitaries ringside, he was so gone he would never fight again.