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#1 Mike Tyson - Top 10 of Boxing’s Most Terrifying Fighters

We’ve reached the top of the heap and for my top choice, it can be none other than “Iron Mike” Tyson who may be #1 on any other feared fighter list. That was probably the case until his career began to slide after his first loss and perhaps the biggest boxing upset in history when Buster Douglas knocked him out in the 10th round of their fight.

But up to that unfortunate night, Tyson had not lost as a pro and carried a record of 37-0 into the Tokyo Dome in Japan on February 11, 1990. Of his first 37 fights, only four went the distance and every other opponent either got KO’d by Tyson or was stopped by a TKO. At that point of the Douglas fight, Mike Tyson was knocking out 89% of his opponents.

But Tyson was not just knocking them out, he was destroying men. In those first 37 bouts, 23 were stopped by a Tyson onslaught in either the first or second round. This included a string of six straight first-round knockouts and nine of 10 in the first session between August 15, 1985, and January 11, 1986.

What is incredible about Mike Tyson is that when his career began in 1985, the man had 15 fights in just 1985! 15! Fighters these days hardly fight twice every two or three years. This guy fought 15 times in 12 months! That’s unheard of and downright nuts. In those first 15 fights which he obviously won them all and all by KO or TKO, only Don Halpin could go more than three rounds and he could not finish the fight anyway suffering a knockout in the fourth.

Before he lost to Buster Douglas, Tyson was taken the distance with James “Quick” Tillis, Mitch “Blood” Green, James “Bonecrusher” Smith, and Tony “TNT” Tucker. But leading up to that night in Japan, Mike Tyson was so intimidating and some of his knockouts were downright brutal. KOs that immediately come to mind are his fight with Jesse Ferguson when he said following the fight:

“What I always try to do 'is catch them right on the tip of the nose. That`s because I try to push the bone of the nose right up into the brain.”

Yikes. The man just didn’t intimidate in the ring, his words outside of it were scary as well. It is known that Tyson is bi-polar but for whatever reason, some of his talk when he was in his prime is just crazy. A great example was this declaration following his destruction of Lou Savarese in 2000:

“I’m the best ever. I’m the most brutal and vicious and ruthless champions that have ever been. There’s no one can stop me. Lennox is a conqueror? No, I’m Alexander. He’s no Alexander. I’m the best ever. There’s never been anybody as ruthless. I’m Sonny Liston. I’m Jack Dempsey. There’s no one like me, I’m from their cloth. There’s no one that can match me. My style is impetuous. My defense is impregnable, and I’m just ferocious. I want your heart, I want to eat his children.”

Whoa…That came after Tyson had lost to Buster Douglas and twice more to Evander Holyfield. Of course, boxing fans know what happened in the rematch of the Holyfield fight when Tyson bit part of an ear off of “The Real Deal.” That moment is probably the most unbelievable few seconds in boxing history. Tyson was disqualified and had lost the first fight between the two by an 11th round TKO.

Tyson would eventually meet Lennox Lewis and the tables were turned as Lewis was defending his championship and dominated and stopped Tyson in eight rounds. Following that, Mike Tyson would fight three more times and lose two to Kevin McBride and a Danny Williams who scored a KO in the fourth round on July 30, 2004.

But again, the early days of Tyson. If you get a chance watch the replay of the Marvis Frazier fight. I watched it and was taken back by the brutality of how Tyson disposed of “Smoking” Joe Frazier’s son in just one round. Larry Holmes made the fatal mistake of jumping into the ring with Tyson and Iron Mike simply beat the hell out of him. Frank Bruno took a terrible beating. Then there was Michael Spinks making a go of it and not getting past the first round.

I watched that fight on pay-per-view in Madison Square Garden and before the bell rang, I knew Spinks was going to lose just by the look in his eyes. He looked SCARED. That’s what Mike Tyson used to be able to do to opponents.

Unfortunately, I have always believed that the death of Cus D’Amato, the firing of Jimmy Jacobs as his manager and Kevin Rooney as his trainer, cost Mike Tyson a chance to be considered the best. Once he hooked up with Don King, I believe that was the start of his downfall. Regardless, Iron Mike Tyson is well deserved to be placed in this list of top 10 most feared fighters in boxing history.

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About the author

Harv Aronson

Harv Aronson was born and raised in Pittsburgh but now lives in Florida with his beautiful wife Melissa.

Harv currently writes for Abstract Sports, the Sports History Network, Yinzer Crazy website, and the magazine Gridiron Greats. Harv wrote the published book "Pro Football's Most Passionate Fans" and as a professional writer has had articles published in an array of sports publications.

Harv loves all sports but football and baseball are at the top of his interest. His passion is for sports history. You can visit Harv's website at and you can reach him at [email protected]

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