With 13 Fights, 11 Knockouts, Mike Tyson Had The Greatest 1986 Anwm: “My Record Will Last For Immortality, It Will Never Be Broken.”


Mike Tyson began the year dealing with intense grief. His trainer and guardian Cus D’Amato, who had officially adopted Tyson, had died in November 1985. Tyson channelled the anguish into his performances however, determined to prove Cus right about his young heavyweight’s potential.

In January, David Jaco and ​​Mike Jameson were cut down as the sawn-off Brooklynite blitzed right through them. Then came Tyson’s first minor test – of sorts – Jesse ‘The Boogieman’ Ferguson (who’d go on to fight for a world title in 1993).

Ferguson held, spoiled and lasted further than any Tyson opponent so far – until an uppercut broke his nose in round five and he was disqualified for holding in round six (the result was soon changed to a TKO). “I wanted to hit him in the nose one more time,” snarled Tyson, “so that the bone of his nose would go up into his brain.”

After pole-axing Steve Zouski with a left hook, Tyson actually had a rare two months without a fight while he recovered from an infected cut on his ear. When he returned to the ring, he experienced his most frustrating fight yet.
The gifted James ‘Quick’ Tillis survived a fourth-round knockdown, spoiled and at times attacked Tyson’s body, lasting the full 10 rounds. Only two weeks later, Tyson fought another 10-rounder, Mitch ‘Blood’ Green holding and running his way to a unanimous decision defeat.

Tyson got back to KO ways just before his 20th birthday in June, taking out mob enforcer Reggie Gross (who at least had a go) in round one, then dishing out the same treatment to hapless William Hosea. Lorenzo Boyd lasted until round two, despite having his nose broken by the first punch Tyson landed. Then came ‘Iron Mike’s fastest ever KO.

Poor Marvis Frazier was pushed a bit too keenly by his proud father, Smokin Joe, and it was Marvis who got smoked in only 30 seconds when Tyson obliterated him with a series of hooks and uppercuts.


If Marvis underwhelmed, journeyman Jose Ribalta over-delivered. Years later, Tyson praised the Cuban as having the best chin and being the physically the strongest heavyweight he ever met. Ribalta got up from three knockdowns to fire back before being stopped in the last round.

Alfonzo Ratliff – Tyson’s 12th opponent of the year by September – literally ran in fear in round one, before being pulverised with hooks in round two.


Next up was the big one: Trevor Berbick, the experienced 32-year-old world champion who’d gone the distance with the great Larry Holmes and upset Pinklon Thomas to claim his title. He was by far Tyson’s best opponent on paper, but the 20-year-old was less than impressed.

Trevor unwisely decided to meet Tyson head-on with predictable results. He barely survived the first round, before a Tyson left hook sent him spectacularly sprawling and collapsing across the ring. ‘Iron Mike’ had achieved his goal in less than six minutes of action.

“Every punch I threw was with bad intentions,” Tyson said afterwards. “My record will last for immortality, it will never be broken.”

This part is more than just hype. It’s likely no heavyweight will ever match Tyson’s 1986, because no promoter would schedule 13 fights for a hot prospect in his second year as a pro. Which is ironic, because there are certain heavyweights who could use the reps.

But by the end of 1986, Tyson had completed one of boxing’s most remarkable years. The teenage undercard fighter who’d failed to qualify for the Olympics had won 13 fights to catapult himself to the status of world champion and the most exciting – and feared – fighter on the planet.


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