When Buster shook up the world: Part II

February 11, 6:19 PMColumbus Boxing ExaminerSamuel Rossi

(The following is Part II of a Multi-Part interview with Former Heavyweight Champion James “Buster” Douglas on the 20th Anniversary of his victory over Mike Tyson)

In the years since Tyson-Douglas, many casual sports fans seem to have forgotten that the fight itself was actually an entertaining bout. Douglas’ commanding reach advantage allowed him to pack on punishment throughout, testing the champion’s reslience and forcing the champion into the first genuine brawl of his career. By Round 5, Tyson’s swollen served as further proof that the challenger was on a quest to do much more than merely survive. The relentless pressure of Douglas combined with Tyson’s efforts to comeback from a possible scorecard deficit, made for a very compelling storyline during the mid-rounds.

It wasn’t until Round 8 that the tables appeared to be turning in Tyson’s favor, if ever so briefly, when he floored the challenger with a vicious uppercut. Douglas recalls with vivid detail what went through his mind at that moment.

“I fell asleep and got caught, and when I went down, I was pissed at myself for doing it. If anything, that punched reminded me that the war was still on.”

But Douglas, wounded and discouraged, did what so many men before him had failed to do. He got up, and for perhaps the first time that night, Tyson realized that a serious threat to his title stood before him.

“Looking back,” says Douglas, “I really think that shot took the wind outta’ his sails.”

Douglas roared back in the ninth, pressing the champion and setting the stage for his knockout win in Round Ten. As a tired and beaten Tyson braved a pair of Douglas’ jabs toward the center of the ring, he found himself caught with a crushing right uppercut that sent him reeling. Douglas wasted no time in employing an old lesson his father had taught him as he landed a right and then a lunging left to send his opponent to the canvas.

“My father always taught me that if you land one good punch, you land another one. Punch until there’s nothing left in front of you.”

All that was left before Douglas, and the rest of the world, was the vision of a fallen champion. The “Baddest Man on the Planet” was now humbled to the ground –  swollen and fumbling for a mouthpiece that would be of no help to him.

In that moment, there was a new Heavyweight Champion ascending to his perch atop the boxing universe. For Douglas, it was laying claim to a childhood dream.

“Right then, I was thinking back to those old boxing magazines with champions on the cover. And finally, I saw myself.

Be sure to read Part III tomorrow.

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(sam.rossi.1@gmail.com)

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