America loves an underdog Story, the comeback kid. Movies like Pearl Harbor, The Patriot, and Lone Survivor have people cheering for the US as they defeat a larger, more equipped enemy or one that is in a better positioning. Enter stage Right, Buster Douglass.
Nobody really cared about the heavyweight title fight in Tokyo that early morning when Mike Tyson, after weeks of sleeping with Geisha girls, walked to the ring to massacre Buster Douglas in February 1990.
"There is the unsettling air about Tyson, with his impassive death's-head face, his unwavering stare, and his refusal to glamorize himself in the ring - no robe, no socks, only the signature black trunks and shoes - that the violence he unleashes against his opponents is somehow just; that some hurt, some wound, some insult in his past, personal or ancestral, will be redressed in the ring; some mysterious imbalance righted. The single-mindedness of his ring style works to suggest that his grievance has the force of a natural catastrophe. That old trope, "the wrath of God," comes to mind."
Going in that early morning Tyson was unbeaten in 37, including ten in world title fights. Douglas had lost four times and, more importantly, his bravery and guts were questioned after his loss in a world title fight to Tony Tucker in 1987. ‘Douglas had no heart’ was meant to be the simple backstory to yet another Tyson walkover while the boxing press questioned his selection. The fight was predicted to be such a blowout that interest was sparse in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. King was forced to bring the bout to Tokyo, where Tyson had already proved himself as a great attraction, selling more than 40,000 tickets on the first day they went on sale for a 1988 title defense against Tony Tubbs. That bout ended in a second-round knockout—few expected better from Douglas.
Douglas survived a long count in round eight and just before the still shocking moment when Tyson, groping on the canvas like a midnight drunk for his gumshield, failed to beat the count in round ten. It was over, Tyson was finished. However, luckily for King, he had Douglas under contract.
Douglas was considered a total no-hoper, but had simply refused to lose. However, Douglas was at the very centre of a perfect storm of emotional unrest, a crushing triple of hurt, the type of chaos that trainers fear, but at the same time relish. Douglas had lost his mother two weeks earlier, had split with his wife and the mother of his child had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. It is safe to say that Douglas was in turmoil as he flew to Tokyo; he landed two weeks after Tyson and his party people.
Douglas, despite the long odds and history of failing to rise to the challenge when it mattered most, didn't come into the Tyson fight despondent. Too many fighters, in his mind, had given up before the first punch was thrown.
His team didn't look at Tyson as an icon. They saw him as just another fighter—a dangerous fighter, yes. But invincible? Hardly.
In assistant trainer John Russell's mind, Tyson was a train. When he was steaming forward, there was a lot of power behind him. But if Douglas stepped to the side, avoiding the bull rush, much of that momentum would be lost. Tyson's success, Team Douglas believed, was predicated on speed. But that required him to be planted and was effective only on his own terms. If Douglas kept moving, using his size and reach to frustrate Tyson, he could take the champion out of his comfort zone. And once he did that, it was anybody's fight.
“I knew he would break if I kept on hitting him and what did I have to lose?”
The Bell Dings
For the first 4 rounds, everyone was waiting for mike to show up. Mike had great power in both hands and surely, at some point, Douglas would make a mistake. And sure enough, at the end of the eighth round he got hit with an uppercut and went down."
Douglas seemed more angry than hurt, slamming his fist into the mat and carefully following the referee's count, making it back to his feet before the count of 10.
The bell rang seconds later to end the round. Douglas had survived. The dream was alive. In some ways it was the defining moment of the fight. Despite being battered throughout, Tyson rose to the occasion. And, when Douglas got the opportunity, he did too. It would have been easy for him to quit and take the moral victory and stay down where it was safe. He had already outperformed expectations.
By the time the ninth round began, it was as if nothing had happened. Tyson came out fast, but Douglas met him punch for punch. It was the most competitive round of the fight, but by the end the challenger was again firmly in control. It was all the champion had left. In the 10th round, he was all but through. An uppercut, this time by Douglas, started a four-punch combination that ended with Tyson on the canvas for the first time in his career. David, against all odds, had slain Goliath.
In life, some things can seem insurmountable, especially in business. Douglass had lost everything. It was only after all his ships had burned did he have the courage and tenacity to take the island under impossible odds and become the world champion over the unbreakable opponent. No matter how imposing your opponent may be, if you do EVERYTHING in your power to overcome it, it will be done. You will slay your Goliath.