By Beating The Son Of Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson Achieved His Fastest Knockout


Mike Tyson scored 24 first-round KOs in his rollercoaster career but none came quicker than this. As Marvis would later recall: “Tyson was just another guy who was going to be a statistic. Yeah, that’s what I thought. I threw a jab and that’s all I remember!”

New York sensation Tyson was 25-0 (23 KOs) and the pre-fight favourite but Marvis was no journeyman. He had one defeat to a great heavyweight champion in Larry Holmes, but had bounced back to score solid wins over contenders James ‘Quick’ Tillis and James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith.

However Marvis’ dad may not have helped matters with some punchy pre-fight comments dismissing comparisons between himself and the aggressive, rising heavyweight star Tyson.

“I’m not flattered at all by the people who say Tyson is like me when I was in my prime,” Smokin’ Joe said. “I’m a proven champion. People think he’s championship material, but he hasn’t proven anything yet. I fought everybody. He fights anybody.”

Frazier added: “Marvis is bigger than Tyson, stronger than Tyson and he’s been there… He’s been praying for Mike Tyson and now he’s got him. Now we’re coming after Mike Tyson. We’re coming after him together.”

Tyson rarely needed any pre-fight hype to get him into a violent mood but Joe’s words and Marvis’s pre-fight snarl did the trick as they faced off before the first bell in the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Right from the start, Marvis made the mistake of coming out and exchanging punches with Tyson in the centre of the ring. Marvis was slightly taller but looked like a cruiserweight compared to the squat, tank-like Tyson.

Very quickly Tyson’s underrated jab had backed him into the corner. Tyson then launched two ferocious uppercuts, the second of which caught Marvis on the point of the chin, sending his eyes rolling back into his head.

Tyson landed a barrage of follow-up blows, including a flush left hook, but the fight was already over. When Marvis collapsed, left slumped unconscious against the bottom rope, referee Joe Cortez wisely halted his count and waved the fight off.

The victor graciously went to check on Marvis’s wellbeing before celebrating his success, but told in-ring TV interviewer Alex Wallau that the fight went down exactly as he predicted.

“The uppercut is my favourite punch,” said Tyson. “I knew, from my trainer telling me, that as he throws his punches, he bends down. I knew that would be perfect for my uppercut.

“I felt so confident, I knew deep down in my blood that I was going to stop him in the first round.”


Tyson was not alone there. Marvis was not a bad boxer – he’d had a good amateur career, building a 56-2 record. But the criticism was that he’d been trained into a clone of his father: a come-forward, smothering pressure fighter in the style of ‘Smokin’ Joe.


That approach was never going to work against a dynamite puncher like Tyson and probably didn’t suit Marvis’s skillset, which would have been better suited to boxing and moving.

The truth was that, while Joe was a loving father who maintained a great relationship with son, they were a poor match as a training and management team. An overconfident Joe put his son in with Holmes too early in his career – just his 10th pro fight – then fed him to Tyson, a contest he had zero chance of winning.

Marvis’ vulnerability and willingness to trade punches were a recipe for disaster against any version of Tyson. Whis explains why he was taken apart in less time than even the journeymen Tyson had fought earlier in his career.

By the end of 1986, Tyson was producing a similarly destructive performance against Trevor Berbick to become the youngest heavyweight champion of all time. Two years later, even the great Michael Spinks was taken out inside one round – so at least Marvis was in good company.

The younger Frazier came back to win three fights but left the sport for good in 1988 to become a church minister. At least he could say that, in his 19-2 record, both defeats came against heavyweight greats.

Marvis, who bore a startling resemblance to Joe, was always going to find it hard to escape the large shadow cast by his dad. The defeat by Tyson was a painful but inevitable dose of reality for both father and son.

For Tyson, it was just one stop on his meteoric rise to the top. He’d fought two weeks before stepping into the ring against Frazier, and he’d fight again a month later, where unheralded Jose Ribalta put up a gutsy effort.

“I love Marvis, he’s a beautiful person,” Tyson said later, perhaps realising that the younger Frazier was never quite cut out for the fight game in the way his dad had been. At least the names of Tyson and Frazier are still linked, even if it’s just in the shape of the most rapid KO ‘Iron Mike’ ever scored.


Leave a Comment