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Feb. 11, 1990: James 'Buster' Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson and James "Buster" Douglas, each with ample baggage, stepped into the ring at the Tokyo Dome on Feb. 11, 1990. Douglas started the fight fast, stinging Tyson with his left jab and eventually following it up with swift right crosses. By the fifth round, Tyson’s left eye was beginning to swell shut. So confident was his camp, they did not pack an ice bag or an enswell to combat the swelling.

The champion, however, had a brief moment when it seemed he would escape defeat. With his back to the ropes in round eight, he unleashed an uppercut that dropped Douglas. The challenger was up at the count of nine. (After the bout, King and Tyson’s handlers filed a protest to the WBC, arguing the referee issued a long count and that the challenger should have been knocked out. The WBC initially agreed with King, but shortly thereafter reversed its decision.)

Douglas rallied in the ninth and had Tyson reeling at the bell. He continued that pace in the 10th. As Tyson approached, Douglas unleashed a terrific uppercut that wobbled Tyson. Douglas stepped forward and unleashed a four-punch combination that dropped Tyson to the canvas. He was counted out and Douglas pulled off one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

Tyson was one of the most dominant heavyweight champions in boxing history. He was 37-0 and held the IBF, WBC and WBA titles. Douglas, whose mother died 23 days before the fight, was listed as a 42-1 underdog and only one Las Vegas casino - The Mirage - actually took action on the fight.

Tyson later admitted he went into the fight after coming off a prolonged binge of partying. He barely trained. Sparring partner Greg Page accompanied him to Tokyo, and promoter Don King was charging $60 to watch them spar. That changed when Page dropped Tyson in a televised sparring session. Suddenly, Tyson’s workouts were closed to the public.

World Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson drives challenger, James
Photo Credit: AP / Sadayuki Mikami

World Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson drives challenger, James Douglas against the ropes during the first on Feb. 11, 1990 in Tokyo.

Heavyweight boxers Mike Tyson, left, and James
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Heavyweight boxers Mike Tyson, left, and James "Buster" Douglas are seen during their bout, Feb. 11, 1990, in Tokyo. Douglas won on a 10th-round knockout.

James
Photo Credit: AP / SADAYUKI MIKAMI

James "Buster" Douglas, right, hits Mike Tyson with a hard right in the face during their world heavyweight title bout at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo on Feb. 11, 1990.

Sweat flies off the head of Mike Tyson
Photo Credit: AP / Sadayuki Mikami

Sweat flies off the head of Mike Tyson as challenger James Douglas blocks the champion with a roundhouse right in the early going of scheduled 12-round heavyweight title bout at the Tokyo Dome Sunday, Feb. 11, 1990. The fight ended with a 10th-round knockout of previously undefeated Tyson.

Referee Octavin Mayran counts over James Douglas on
Photo Credit: AP / Sadayuki Mikami

Referee Octavin Mayran counts over James Douglas on all fours on the canvas, after champion Mike Tyson, background in a neutral corner, dropped him in the 8th round of their scheduled 12-round heavyweight title bout on Feb. 11, 1990 at the Tokyo Dome.

Champion Mike Tyson stands in a neutral corner
Photo Credit: AP / Anonymous

Champion Mike Tyson stands in a neutral corner as referee Octavio Mayon gives a count to challenger James "Buster" Douglas in the 8th round of a scheduled 12-round heavyweight title bout at the Tokyo Dome on Feb. 11, 1990.

Referee Octavin Mayran counts over James Douglas on
Photo Credit: AP / Sadayuki Mikami

Referee Octavin Mayran counts over James Douglas on all fours on the canvas, after champion Mike Tyson, background in a neutral corner, dropped him in the 8th round of their scheduled 12-round heavyweight title bout on Feb. 11, 1990 at the Tokyo Dome.

James
Photo Credit: AP / Tsugufumi Matsumoto

James "Buster" Douglas follows with a left, dropping Mike Tyson to the canvas in the 10th round of scheduled 12-round heavyweight champion bout at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo on Feb. 11, 1990.

James
Photo Credit: AP / Tsugufumi Matsumoto

James "Buster" Douglas, stands over Mike Tyson who fell on his back after taking a series of blows in the 10th round of their world heavyweight title fight in Tokyo on Feb. 11, 1990.

Boxer James
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS / SADAYUKI MIKAMI

Boxer James "Buster" Douglas stands over knocked out Mike Tyson in the 10th round of the scheduled 12-round heavyweight title bout in Tokyo, Japan on Feb. 11, 1990.

Champion Mike Tyson struggles back to his feet
Photo Credit: AP / Mitsuru Sakai

Champion Mike Tyson struggles back to his feet as referee Octavio Meyron continues the count in the 10th round of the scheduled 12-round heavyweight title bout at the Tokyo Dome, Feb. 11, 1990. Challenger James "Buster" Douglas literally busted Tyson at 1:23 of the 10th round and won the undisputed heavyweight championship. It was Tyson's first defeat in his 38th outing.

Referee Octavio Mayron counts as champion Mike Tyson
Photo Credit: AP / SADAYUKI MIKAMI

Referee Octavio Mayron counts as champion Mike Tyson is floored by challenger James "Buster" Douglas in the 10th round of the world heavyweight title fight in Tokyo, Japan, on Feb. 11, 1990. Douglas captured Tyson's crown in the 10th round.

James
Photo Credit: AP / Sadayuki Mikami

James "Buster" Douglas wears the champion belt as he poses triumphantly for photographers following his 10th-round knockout victory over Mike Tyson in a scheduled 12-round heavyweight championship bout on Feb.11,1990 in the Toyko Dome.

Mike Tyson used a wet towel to cool
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS / Katsumi Kasahara

Mike Tyson used a wet towel to cool off the swollen part of his face during a news conference at the Tokyo Dome, Sunday, Feb. 11, 1990. Tyson was knocked out by James Douglas earlier in the day in a heavyweight championship bout.

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