Mike Tyson’s Ruthless Annihilation of Larry Holmes in the Name of Muhammad Ali, a Haunting Premonition for Roy Jones Jr.


The drive from Albany to the Catskill mountains takes about an hour, but for Mike Tyson it would have felt much longer on that fateful night in 1980.

As a 14-year-old boy, Tyson had travelled with his mentor, Cus D’Amato, to watch Muhammad Ali face Larry Holmes at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on October 2.

Holmes held the WBC heavyweight crown and had sparred hundreds of rounds with ‘The Greatest’ when they were sparring together. Promoter Don King called the bout ‘The Last Hurrah’ and it could not have been a more apt title.

Despite displaying worrying frailties during his pre-fight neurological exam, Ali was allowed to fight and was duly dominated for ten rounds by Holmes before trainer Angelo Dundee called a halt to proceedings.

Fergie Pacheco, who was Ali’s former doctor, called the fight ‘an abomination’ and demanded all the people involved in be arrested because of Ali’s clearly deteriorated state.


A record two billion people watched the one-sided mauling across the globe, including Tyson and D’Amato on their small closed circuit set in Albany.

The teenager was raging, his desire to seek instant retribution brewed and Tyson, in an interview with ESPN, vividly recalled how he began to hatch a plot with his mentor from that very second.

“Cus had wanted me to beat him so bad. I was offended by how bad he beat up Ali.

“When we drove home to Catskill [about an hour from Albany], nobody in the car said a word, we were all so upset. The next morning, Cus was on the phone with Muhammad Ali after taking this shellacking from Holmes.

“He said to Ali, ‘I have this young black kid who is going to be heavyweight champion someday and I want you to talk to him.’”

Even though Tyson had the chance to talk to his hero, one of the greatest sports stars in history, he still had just one thing on his mind – vengeance.



“When I grow up, I’ll fight Holmes and I’ll get him back for you.”
The teenager would then take part in one of the most vicious and brutal rampages ever seen in the heavyweight division, winning gold in the 1981 and 1982 Junior Olympic Games, before making his debut as an 18-year-old in Albany.


He won 26 of his first 28 fights by KO or TKO and ended 16 of those inside the opening three minutes. After defeating Trevor Berbick to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history, ’Tyson-Mania’ began to grip the world.

Tyson became the first heavyweight to hold all three major titles – WBA, WBC and IBF – at the same time, but retribution finally presented itself in 1988.

In an event billed as ‘Heavyweight History’, 38-year-old Holmes was tempted out of retirement by a $3million offer from Don King to face the ferocious Tyson.

Muhammad Ali was invited to the bout to watch at ringside, parading in front of the crowd before the first bell to lap up the adulation before turning stony-faced and whispering something in Tyson’s ear.


“Remember what you said – get him for me”

In just four rounds, Tyson proved too fast, too strong and too deadly for the former heavyweight champion as he was dropped twice to the canvas before the fight was called off – Holmes knocked out for the first time in his 75-fight career.

The hungry champion had lived up to his promise from eight years before, decimating Holmes in mere minutes to avenge the sustained beating given to his hero Ali back at Caesars Palace.

‘Iron Mike’ makes his ring return after a 15-year absence this Saturday night against Roy Jones Junior at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Although billed as an ‘exhibition’, as Larry Holmes can attest to, the New Yorker has no respect for legacies or records and has a savage streak which runs deep.


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