Top 10 Best Mike Tyson Fights That Made Him a Legend

Tags: #MikeTyson ,   #Tyson ,   #Boxing ,   #Knockout ,   #boxinglife

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2023-02-07 06:00:06

Mike Tyson was the beast in his prime, terrorizing the heavyweight division. No other fighter in history had such a perfect combination of speed and power! Some fighters, including George Foreman, admitted they were scared to face him. While boxing isn't among the most dangerous combat sports, going against Iron Mike meant you could be seriously hurt, even if you didn't drink something horrible. In his 20-year-long career, Tyson won 50 times, with 44 wins coming by knockout. Here we'll rank his top ten victories based on his performance and his opponents' strength.

10. Michael Johnson

Watch young Mike Tyson destroying Michael Johnson
Biggest career success: Survived the first knockdown against Mike Tyson
Bravery: 8/10
Toughness: 5/10
Damage suffered: 10/10 
Overall fighter quality: 5/10

With his wild hair and thin frame, Michael Johnson came into his fight with teenage Mike Tyson wishing to trade blows with him. That was what young Mike loved, as he didn't have to chase him around the ring. Mike connected with his left hook to the body, showing impressive lateral movement and bringing Johnson down. Many were impressed that he could get up after only a couple of seconds while looking like the punch did minor damage.

But what followed is something that would look unrealistic even in Rocky movies. Mike ran toward his opponent as the fight continued before crushing him with a compelling right hook right through his guard. The ref mercifully stopped the match while unlucky Johnson stayed on the floor for a couple of minutes. Later, he was diagnosed with a broken jaw.

9. Mitch Green

Mitch Green suffered hard shots for 10 rounds
Biggest career success: Tight loss against the future world champion Trevor Berbick
Bravery: 2/10
Toughness: 10/10
Damage suffered: 9/10 
Overall fighter quality: 7/10

Going into his fight with Mike Tyson, Mitch Green was considered the contender for the heavyweight crown as he suffered a single loss in his 18 matches. That sole defeat was against future champion Trevor Berbick who beat him on a majority decision. On the other hand, Iron Mike was returning after his bout against James "Quick" Tillis, winning that match on points while not looking good in the later rounds.

What seemed like the biggest challenge in his career turned into a massive beatdown in New York, where "Blood" was nothing more than a punching bag. But unlike his previous match, Tyson was in top condition until the final bell. It was another unanimous decision victory, but it proved that Mike's conditioning was at a peak. Yet, there was much wrestling in this one, which gave Mike some experience for his WWE stint.

8. Donnie Long

Donnie Long was confident that he'll teach young Mike a lesson or two
Biggest career success: Controversial majority loss against the title contender James Broad
Bravery: 8/10
Toughness: 6/10
Damage suffered: 8/10 
Overall quality: 6/10

Tyson was barely 19 years old when in his ninth professional fight, he faced the so-called "Master of Disaster" Donnie Long. Long was considered the first real test for a young boxer, as he barely lost against strong contenders James Broad and John Tate. Heck, coming into the fight with Tyson, he said, "I feel like I could outbox Tyson. I can box as good as he can; I can punch better than Tyson". Yet, his plan about keeping Mike in the middle of the ring worked fine for about 35 seconds.

A single left hook to the face made him visit the floor for the first time, but incredibly, he was quickly back on his feet. Like a relentless predator, Tyson brought him down again, but once again, Donnie was up. But when that left hook once more met his right cheek, it was all over! "Master of Disaster" turned into "Disaster" in only 88 seconds.

7. Marvis Frazier

Marvis Frazier suffered a horrific knockout
Biggest career success: Title challenge against Larry Holmes
Bravery: 8/10
Toughness: 2/10
Damage suffered: 9/10 
Overall boxer quality: 7/10

A son of legendary "Smoking" Joe Frazier, Marvis was a heavyweight contender with a single defeat against Larry Holmes. After victories against numerous contenders, including Joe Bugner, James Broad, and James Tillis, his unanimous decision triumph against future champion James Smith secured him an encounter with Mike Tyson. But from the first second of the match, "Iron" was on top of him, brutally attacking his head before a single right uppercut sent the unconscious Marvis to the floor.

Officially, the match was over after 30 seconds, making it the fastest win in Mike's career. The fight actually lasted about five seconds less. Nonetheless, the legends say that Joe Frazier begged the judges to call a different time. As for Marvis, years later, he said that the only thing he remembers about this fight was a single jab he threw.

6. Frank Bruno II

The best Mike Tyson fight after his prison stint
Biggest career success: WBC Heavyweight Champion
Bravery: 6/10
Toughness: 6/10
Damage suffered: 8/10 
Overall quality: 8/10

Mike Tyson was already past his prime when fighting against British star Frank Bruno in 1989, showing early signs of decline. But when they met again in 1996, Mike was highly motivated to show that even after a stint in prison, he could become a champion again. Bruno held a WBC belt at the time, but his first title defense proved unsuccessful. As an aggressive boxer, the British fighter was a massive target for Mike, who showed impressive movement early on, ducking hard shots. After the relatively quiet first round came the explosion in the second.

"Iron" attacked early as his rival held on for dear life and even lost a point for doing so. By that time, everyone knew that this one would soon be over. The end came in the first minute of the third round as Tyson unleashed a brutal combination of hooks and uppercuts, leaving poor Bruno almost unconscious. For at least that moment, it looked like Mike was back and that the defeat against Buster Douglas will forever be the only stain on his record.

5. Jose Ribalta

Jose Ribalta must be the bravest fighter ever to box against Tyson
Biggest career success: Tight loss against former champion Tim Witherspoon
Bravery: 9/10
Toughness: 10/10
Damage suffered: 10/10
Overall quality: 7/10

If we made a list of fighters who suffered the most damage while fighting Mike Tyson, Jose Ribalta would come out on top by a country mile. Even after suffering a horrendous right uppercut knockdown early in the second round, he was quickly back on his feet.

After he was back on the floor in the tenth round and asked by a referee if he was alright, he answered, "Yeah, hell yeah." But soon after, Tyson finished him with another barrage. This was another demonstration of Mike's stamina and the first and the final time he ever KO'ed one of his opponents in the final round.

4. Pinklon Thomas

Pinklon Thomas could match Mike Tyson for only a couple of minutes
Biggest career success: WBC heavyweight champion
Bravery: 7/10
Toughness: 7/10
Damage suffered: 8/10 
Overall quality: 8/10

Trained by legendary Angelo Dundee, Pinklon Thomas was a former heavyweight champion with a single defeat - against Trevor Berbick. Pinklon tried to keep Tyson away by jabbing, which worked well for a couple of minutes! Mike then delivered a barrage of eight shots, as Thomas was barely saved by the bell. For the next four rounds, Tyson tried to find a way past his opponent's jab, finally delivering in the middle of round six.

After a tremendous 15-punch combination, Pinklon was on the floor, and Dundee mercifully decided to stop further punishment. What made this victory magnificent is that in his 15-year-long career, Thomas lost only seven fights. Not counting his last match in 1993, when he was well past his prime, this was the only time he lost by TKO.

3. Tony Tucker

Mike Tyson demonstrated his stamina against Tony Tucker
Biggest career success: IBF Heavyweight Champion
Bravery: 6/10
Toughness: 8/10
Damage suffered: 8/10
Overall quality: 8/10

Largely forgotten by many, Tony Tucker was an undefeated (34-0) IBF heavyweight champion when he faced Tyson. After an impressive TKO win against "Buster" Douglas, Tucker looked like the better fighter early on. Tyson was even in trouble, but not for long. Instead of relying on one big punch, he was extremely patient, winning rounds and waiting for his opportunity.

By the bout's second half, Tucker looked like a beaten man, only interested in showing his hugging techniques. He survived, but Mike was such a dominant and disciplined athlete that he proved to be more than a knockout artist.

2. Trevor Berbick

Trevor Berbick felt the true power of Tyson
Biggest career success: WBC Heavyweight Champion
Bravery: 10/10
Toughness: 6/10
Damage suffered: 9/10 
Overall quality: 8/10

The most incredible legacy of Mike Tyson is that he made so many champions and contenders look like they have no place in the ring. While Trevor Berbick is by no means one of the greatest heavyweights, he faced Tyson at the peak of his power while being the world champion. The man who barely lost to prime Larry Holmes before easily dispatching Muhammad Ali suffered a massive defeat against Tyson.

After surviving the first three minutes, he was rocked in the second. After being thrown to the floor for the second time, he made his best impression of the local drunk before the referee Mills Lane mercifully stopped the match. Mike Tyson was only 20 at the moment, thus becoming the youngest heavyweight champion of the world!

1. Michael Spinks

Michael Spinks never looked as a man who wanted to fight Tyson
Biggest career success: IBF Heavyweight Champion
Bravery: 1/10
Toughness: 4/10
Damage suffered: 9/10 
Overall quality: 9/10

1988 was the last year of prime Tyson, and the fight against Michael Spinks was the final where his original team trained him. At the moment, Spinks had a 31-0 record, twice defeating Larry Holmes and becoming the first reigning heavyweight and lightweight champion. But once he entered that ring, "Jinx" looked like a man who would rather be anywhere else.

Only a minute into the fight, Tyson rocked him to the floor for the first time in his career with a devastating body punch. Seconds later, Mike finished him with a powerful right hook. Spinks tried to get up, but in doing so, he almost went out of the ring. This was symbolic, as he never came back to fight again!

Even though he will never be ranked as the best heavyweight on any top ten list, no other boxer in history was so exciting to watch. These ten fights are the best reminder of how enormously talented Mike Tyson was and how quickly that talent was flushed down the drain.

What is your favorite Mike Tyson performance? Do you think he was the most exciting boxer to watch? Share your opinion in the comments.


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Tims Says:

That Michael Johnson bloke had it the hardest, but it was hilarious.

December 14 at 03:50:13 PM

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October 28 at 09:47:14 AM

BBB Says:

Mike was way too good in his early days, to the point that he was destroying careers of prospects. Many of the guys he KO'd fought much better fights against other heavyweights like Lewis, Holyfield or Bowe.

His sharp decline began the moment he fired his coach after that win against Spinks. Yet, even then he kept winning for a while thanks to his brutal strength and conditioning.

October 12 at 08:44:11 AM

KO Master Mike Says:

I watched some of these fights like a million times. No other boxer in history was as exciting as Mike!

June 13 at 08:30:50 AM

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