The Ultimate Peak: Revealing the Defining Moment of Mike Tyson’s Brilliance as a Fighter – When Was He Last Considered Great?

The last time Mike Tyson was a truly elite heavyweight was the Mike Spinks fight, with his original team, training like Cus taught him:

After that night, it was all downhill…

Mike himself says the night he fought Mike Spinks was the best he would ever be…

Mike Tyson with Rooney and his original team in 1988

Who was a Rooney-trained Tyson?

Mike Tyson had incredible handspeed and power – only two heavyweights are generally considered to have been faster, and only a half dozen more powerful.


Emmanuel Steward perhaps put it best:

“back then, Mike was a very special combination of speed, power, and intensity.”

Mike Tyson was the youngest heavyweight champion ever for very good reasons. He was a boxer-puncher of appalling speed, hand-speed, constant movement and power, who threw “punches in bunches” with bad intentions while maintaining superb defense.

Mike had an enormous willingness to work, devoting himself not just to the gym, but spending countless hours as a teenager in Cus D’Amato’s film library, watching thousands of hours of film of other fighters. He studied the old master’s, especially Jack Dempsey, whom he modeled his style after.

Mike had superb training. First Teddy Atlas, then Kevin Rooney, trained him. D’Amato himself spend time in the film room with him, talking about styles, fights, and fighters. Rooney, in particular, crafted Mike from a raw beginner to a deadly boxer of extraordinary quality.


Kevin Rooney worked with Tyson, from the start of his career up to the Spinks fight, and Rooney says:

“he punched fast and hard. That’s a difficult combination to deal with. Especially when those fast punches come in bunches, in good, solid, combinations,”

Rooney also said:
“speed kills, and Mike had speed, f****** unbelievable speed!”

Teddy Atlas has said a boxer must have three things in order to punch with authority, saying::

“Mike had the hat trick of hands. There are three things a boxer most wants as a puncher, and Tyson had all of them. He had a combination of quickness, speed, and power, which is not common.”

Atlas emphasized what set Tyson apart was his speed and ability to deliver power shots from both sides in abundance:

“He hit hard, fast, and often.”

And that was the key to Mike: he did not have the hardest one shot punch, but he had the ability to hit mighty hard, mighty fast, mighty often!

Lou Saverese said:

“The thing about him that’s amazing is there are guys that are strong and there are guys that are fast. He’s strong and fast. It’s so deceiving how quick he is. That’s what makes him so different. You don’t realise how quick he is until you get in there with him.”


Dave Jaco said about fighting Mike:

“The fight ended at 2:16 of the first round because of the three-knockdown rule. The referee came up to me and said ‘Nice fight, David,’ ” Jaco recalled. “And I said, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ He said ‘You’ve been down three times!’ I said, ‘Bull—-! I’ve only been down twice!’ ”

Donnie Long took up boxing in prison, and thought he had seen it all. He was Mike’s 9th opponent. Donnie said:

“I remember going to the fight, and I remember waking up in the hospital,” Long said. “As far as the actual fight, I can’t tell you a single thing.”

Tyson floored Long three times in 88 seconds.

With his original team, Mike Tyson was an exciting fighter and great champion.

Manny Steward said it best:

“Mike Tyson, after Muhammad Ali, has had more of an impact on boxing—in particular heavyweights—than any other fighter I would say in the last twenty years…He knocked out people but he did it in such a vicious, cruel manner and the way he came out with the destruct and destroy type attitude, it was just something that people thrived on…that’s how exciting you got to be about Mike. He was going to knock out somebody with their head snapping up in some cruel manner, but he brought that intensity and animal instincts out that I don’t think I saw any fighter in my lifetime, still, be able to do. It was just exciting to watch and totally transformed the image of boxing, as far as I’m concerned, in the heavyweight division to the degree that no one still after him has still captivated and had that impact on the audience and other fans the way that Mike Tyson has.”

Mike’s original style, “peek-a-boo” and his original skill set

Anyone who knows anything about boxing knows styles are in large part dictated by physics.

The great Hall of Fame trainer Cus D’Amato designed the peek a boo to take a short, lightning fast light heavyweight fighter with limited reach, Floyd Patterson, and make him heavyweight champion.


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