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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / What If Mike Tyson Fought in the 1960s and 70s: Part 1 of 3

What If Mike Tyson Fought in the 1960s and 70s: Part 1 of 3

How would he do?
Publish Date: 01/23/2022
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

For this mythical series, we will use our time machine to move “Iron” Mike Tyson twenty years into the past. In this timeline, Tyson is born on June 30, 1946, which puts him smack dab in the middle of perhaps the most competitive era in heavyweight boxing history. How would Iron Mike have fared against Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton and the other top heavyweights of that time? Would he still become a legend? Let’s find out!

Let’s settle this in the ring:

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March 6, 1965:

Under the tutelage of Cus D’Amato, Mike Tyson turns professional, winning by a first-round TKO over Joe Thames.

December 31, 1965:

By the end of the year, Iron Mike has an undefeated record of 14-0, 13 KOs and the boxing public is beginning to take notice. Fans are in awe of his speed and power, with some touting him as the man who will dethrone Muhammad Ali.

January 15, 1966:

Tyson defeats trial horse Willi Besmanoff by a 5th round TKO to improve his record to 15-0, 14 KOs.

April 30, 1966:

After four more stoppage victories, Tyson’s record stands at 19-0, 18 KOs

May 20, 1966: Mike Tyson vs Amos Johnson

Iron Mike wins by a first-round knockout to improve his record to 20-0, 19 KOs.

June 10, 1966: Mike Tyson vs Henry Cooper

Tyson is floored for the first time in his career by a Cooper left hook in the first round. The fighters clash heads in the 4th, opening a nasty gash over Cooper’s left eye. The fight is stopped, and Tyson is awarded a controversial technical decision:

Tyson wins Technical SD 4

August 31, 1966:

After two more knockout victories, Iron Mike’s records stands at 23-0, 21 KOs

September 17, 1966: Mike Tyson vs Thad Spencer:

Tyson dominates from the outset dropping Spencer five times to a stoppage victory.

Tyson wins TKO 7

November 30, 1966:

Tyson stops his next two opponents to run his record to 26-0, 24 KOs

December 17, 1966: Mike Tyson vs Henry Cooper II

Tyson dominates the rematch from the start, and by the fourth round, Cooper’s face is a river of blood. Tyson wins by TKO.

Tyson wins TKO 4

March 30, 1967:

Tyson stops his next two opponents to improve his record to 29-0, 27 KOs

May 5, 1967: Mike Tyson vs George Chuvalo

Tyson controls the fight but is unable to finish the iron chinned Chuvalo. Tyson wins by unanimous decision: 99-92, 98-92, and 98-93

Tyson wins UD 10

June 30, 1967:

Tyson, now with a record of 31-0, 28 KOs, qualifies for the WBA 8-man championship tournament after Muhammad Ali is stripped of the title.

August 18, 1967: Tyson vs Ernie Terrell

Tyson faces Terrell in the first round of the WBA tournament. Ernie’s height and size give Tyson problems over the first half of the fight. However, Mike wears him down with his speed and accurate power shots. A 12th round knockdown puts the stamp on a Tyson decision: 117-111, 117-111 and 117-110 on the scorecards.

Tyson wins UD 12

December 31, 1967:

Tyson ends the year with a record of 32-0, 28 KOS and has advanced to the final four of the WBA heavyweight tournament.

February 17, 1968: Mike Tyson vs Jerry Quarry

In the tournament semifinal, Tyson is just too strong and fast for Quarry, punishing him on the way to a 6th round stoppage.

Tyson wins TKO 6

April 13, 1968: Mike Tyson vs Jimmy Ellis

Tyson and Ellis square off for the vacant WBA heavyweight title. Ellis boxes cleverly over the first four rounds, but it’s all Tyson after that. Tyson floors Ellis 3 times in the 7th leading to a stoppage. Tyson wins the WBA heavyweight championship and improves his record to 34-0, 30 KOS.

Tyson wins TKO 7 (Wins WBA heavyweight championship)

July 13, 1968: Mike Tyson vs Leotis Martin

Tyson makes the first defense of his WBA heavyweight title against Martin: This is a mismatch from the outset as Tyson floors Martin five times, leading to a third-round stoppage.

Tyson wins TKO 3 (Retains WBA heavyweight Championship)

September 21, 1968: Mike Tyson vs Floyd Patterson

Patterson outfoxes Tyson over the first three rounds, but Iron Mike quickly assumes control with his power punching. One final uppercut from Tyson closes the show in the 6th.

Tyson wins KO 6 (Retains WBA heavyweight Championship)

November 16, 1968: Mike Tyson vs George Chuvalo II

Chuvalo once again proves to be a rugged opponent for Tyson. Tyson wins virtually every round over the first 8. By the 11th, Chuvalo is badly cut over his left eye. The referee steps in and stops the fight in the 12th. Tyson defends his WBA heavyweight championship successfully for the 3rd time and improves his record to 37-0, 33 KOs

Tyson TKO 12

February 8, 1969: Mike Tyson vs Buster Mathis

In his fourth title defense, Tyson dismantles Buster Mathis, flooring him twice in the fourth round before stopping him in the fifth.

Tyson wins TKO 5 (Retains WBA heavyweight Championship)

November 8, 1969: Mike Tyson vs Zora Folley

Tyson defends the WBA heavyweight championship for the 5th time with a dominant victory over Zora Folley. Folley is down four times in the fight before the referee stops it in round 7. Tyson’s record now stands at 39-0, 35 KOs.

Tyson wins TKO 7 (Retains WBA heavyweight Championship)

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December 5, 1969:

Mike Tyson signs to face New York State Athletic Commission heavyweight champion, Joe Frazier in a unification match. This is one of the most anticipated matchups in heavyweight boxing history.

**This concludes Part I. Next, Tyson faces Frazier in a Heavyweight Super Fight collision, and a certain guy named Ali emerges from exile looking to reclaim his lost crown. And let’s not forget about George Foreman. All-time greats battle for dominance as the heavyweight division moves into the early and middle 1970s.

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