By Scoop Malinowski
It was one of the greatest shock upsets in sports history. It was probably the biggest upset in boxing history. February 11, 1990, Tokyo, Japan, James “Buster” Douglas beat Mike Tyson. “Mike Tyson has been knocked out!”
Here is a recollection by the man himself, the creator of that unforgettable night in history, Buster Douglas, exactly 15 years later:
Scoop Malinowski: When did you first believe that you were going to beat Mike Tyson?
Buster Douglas: “I always thought I had a good chance to beat him. Confident in my abilities, I moved up the rankings and got closer to get another title shot at the title. It just grew, you know, just grew from there.”
SM: Do you remember a specific time in your mind when you first believed that you were gonna beat Tyson?
Buster Douglas: “Once I signed to fight him I knew that I could beat him. And then, of course, it intensified as my mom passed and prior to my mother passing, she came over and checked on me – because I was going through a lot in my life. At the time, my wife and I were separated, and it was just really bad outside of my boxing career. And then I was really adamant about it with my mom – and she was like, Oh, you’re so mean – from that point on she was confident I was prepared to fight. It was a trying time, but through the grace of God, I made it through all the things I was going through. There I was preparing for one of the biggest nights of my life and then all the things in my life were going bad. But I still stayed focused and was able to lean on boxing to bring me through that, that storm. It really was a difficult time in my life but boxing helped me make it through because it took my mind off of it, you know, my personal life. So therefore, he (Tyson) was the least of my worries.”
SM: When did you first notice that Mike Tyson realized he was in trouble with you?
Buster Douglas: “I would say probably about the 5th round or so. Because quite a few people have had a good first round with Mike. But after three rounds, four rounds, five rounds, he took a real good look at me, after about the 5th round, like, DAAAMMMNN [laughs]! You know, one of those kinds of expressions. It just continued from there. But the thing I was impressed about Mike was he fought like a son-of-a-*****. Because we all thought once he got five or six rounds behind, that he would be like, Oh, **** it, things aren’t going my way. But s***, he stepped it up too. So, you know, it was a helluva thing.”
SM: When did you first see defeat on his face, in his…(eyes)?
Buster Douglas: “(Cutting me off) I never saw defeat in Mike’s face. Never. And that’s ironically [smiles]. In the 8th round when I wanted to take a…to like, reflect like, Mike, look at this going on…BANG! He caught me with a shot. And that’s when I was like, Oh, better stay serious because he’s focused. He was focused throughout.”
My Mike Tyson Biofile interview
This is an excerpt of the full interview which was originally published in International Boxing Digest magazine (USA) and The Fist magazine (Australia).