James (Buster) Douglas, Heavyweight Boxing Champ   Leave a comment


James (Buster) Douglas, Heavyweight Boxing Champ

James “Buster” Douglas (born April 7, 1960) is a former undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion who scored a stunning upset when he knocked out previously undefeated champion Mike Tyson on February 11, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan. At the time, Tyson was considered to be the best boxer in the world and one of the most feared heavyweight champions in history due to his utter domination of the division. The Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, the only Las Vegas casino to make odds on the fight, had Douglas as a 42 to 1 underdog for the fight.

Douglas held the title for eight months and two weeks, losing on October 25, 1990, to 28-year-old, 6-foot-2-inch, 208-pound Evander Holyfield, via third-round KO, in his only title defense.

Growing upThe son of professional boxer William “Dynamite” Douglas, Douglas grew up in Columbus, Ohio, in the predominantly black Linden-area neighborhood, Windsor Terrace. He attended Linden McKinley High School where he played football and basketball, even leading Linden to a Class AAA state basketball championship in 1977. After high school, Douglas played basketball for the Coffeyville Community College Red Ravens in Coffeyville, Kansas from 1977 to 1978 where the seventeen year old was a 6 feet 0 inch Power forward. He is in the Coffeyville Red Ravens Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame.[1]He also played basketball at Sinclair Community College from 1979 to 1980 in Dayton, Oh before he moved back to Columbus to focus on boxing.[2]

Boxing careerDouglas made his debut on May 31, 1981 and defeated Dan O’Malley in a four round bout. He won his first five fights before coming into a fight with David Bey twenty pounds heavier than he usually did in his early fights. Bey knocked Douglas out in the second round to hand him his first defeat.

After six more fights, all wins, Douglas fought Steffen Tangstad to a draw on October 16, 1982. He was penalized two points during the course of the fight which proved to be the difference.

After the draw Douglas went on to beat largely journeyman fighters over the next fourteen months. Two of his wins were against Jesse Clark, who never won a fight in his career; Douglas fought him a total of three times and knocked him out all three times. In his last fight of 1983 Douglas was dominating opponent Mike White, only to lose the fight when White knocked him out in the ninth round.

On November 9, Douglas was scheduled to fight heavyweight contender Trevor Berbick in Las Vegas. Berbick pulled out of the bout three days before it was scheduled and Randall “Tex” Cobb elected to take the fight in Berbick’s place. Douglas defeated the former heavyweight contender by winning a majority decision. The next year he fought up and coming contender Jesse Ferguson, but was beaten by majority decision.

Douglas fought three times in 1986, defeating former champion Greg Page and fringe contender David Jaco in two of the fights. This earned him a shot at the International Boxing Federation championship that Michael Spinks was stripped of for refusing to defend it. Douglas did not perform well against Tony Tucker and was knocked out in ten rounds.

After the Tucker defeat Douglas won four consecutive fights and went on to fight Trevor Berbick in 1989, winning by a unanimous decision. He followed that up with a unanimous decision victory over future heavyweight champion Oliver McCall, and earned a shot at the undisputed heavyweight championship held by Mike Tyson, who became the universally recognized champion after knocking out Spinks in one round in 1988. (Douglas fought on the undercard of the event and defeated Mike Williams by TKO in seven rounds.)

Championship fight against Mike TysonMain article: Tyson vs. Douglas
The fight was scheduled for February 11, 1990 and took place in Tokyo at the Tokyo Dome. Almost everyone assumed that Douglas’ fight versus Mike Tyson was going to be another quick knockout for the champion. Only one betting parlor in Las Vegas would hold odds for the bout, and many thought it was just an easy tune-up for Tyson before a future mega-fight with undefeated Evander Holyfield, who had recently moved up to heavyweight from cruiserweight where he became the first boxer to be the undisputed champion of the weight class.

Douglas’ mother, Lula Pearl, died 23 days before the title bout.[3] Douglas, who had trained hard, surprised the world by dominating the fight from the beginning, using his 12-inch reach advantage to perfection. He seemingly hit Tyson at will with powerful jabs and right hands and skillfully danced out of range of Tyson’s own punches. The champion had not taken Douglas seriously, expecting another quick and easy knockout victory. He was slow, refusing to move his head and slip his way in (his usual effective strategy) but rather setting his feet and throwing big, lunging hooks, repeatedly trying to beat Douglas with single punches. By the fifth round, Tyson’s left eye was swelling shut from Douglas’ many right hands, and ringside HBO announcers proclaimed it was the most punishment they had ever seen the champion absorb.

Tyson’s cornermen appeared to be unprepared for the suddenly dire situation. They had not brought an endswell to the fight, so they were forced to put tap water into a latex glove to hold over Tyson’s swelling eye. By the end of the fight, Tyson’s eye had swollen almost completely shut. In the eighth round, Tyson landed a right uppercut that knocked Douglas down. The referee’s count engendered controversy as Douglas was on his feet when the referee reached nine, although the official knockdown timekeeper was two seconds ahead. In the ring the final arbiter of the knockdown seconds is the referee and a comparison with Douglas’s winning knockdown count issued to Tyson two rounds later revealed that both fighters had received long counts.[4]

Tyson came out aggressively in the dramatic ninth round and continued his attempts to end the fight with one big punch hoping that Douglas was still hurt from the 8th round knockdown. Both men traded punches before Douglas connected on a multi-punch combination that staggered Tyson back to the ropes. With Tyson hurt along the ropes Douglas unleashed a vicious attack to try to finish off a dazed Tyson but, amazingly, Tyson withstood the punishment and barely survived the 9th round. Douglas dominated the tenth round from the outset. While setting Tyson up with his jab Douglas scored a huge uppercut, followed by a rapid combination, and knocked Tyson down for the first time in his career, making boxing history. Tyson struggled to his knees and picked up his mouthpiece lying on the mat next to him. He awkwardly attempted to place it back into his mouth. The image of Tyson with the mouthpiece hanging crookedly from his lips would become an enduring image from the fight. He was unable to beat the referee’s count, and Douglas was the new heavyweight champion of the world. As Buster Douglas said in an interview years later ‘“I thought Tyson was getting up until I had seen him looking for that mouth piece and then I knew that he was really hurt. So anytime you know you only got ten seconds to get up so you aren’t going to worry about anything but just getting up first. So when I had seen him looking around for that mouth piece I knew he was really hurt.”[5]

[edit] After the upsetWhile still Champion, Douglas appeared on the February 23, 1990 episode of the World Wrestling Federation’s “WWF The Main Event”, as special guest referee for a rematch between Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Originally, Mike Tyson was scheduled to be the guest referee, but following the upset, the WWF scrambled to sign on Douglas for the event. At the end of the match, Douglas was provoked into a ‘storyline’ punch and knockout of Savage, who was the ‘heel’ wrestler in the match.

The defeated Tyson clamored for a rematch and Douglas was offered more money than he had ever made before for a fight. Not wanting to deal with Tyson’s camp or his promoter Don King, Douglas decided to make his first defense against #1 contender Evander Holyfield, who had watched the new champion dethrone Tyson from ringside in Tokyo. Douglas came into the October 25, 1990 fight at 246 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than he was for the Tyson and also the heaviest he’d weighed in for a fight since a 1985 bout with Dion Simpson, in which he tipped the scale at. just over 247 pounds.

In the third round of the fight, Douglas attempted to hit Holyfield with a hard uppercut that he telegraphed. Holyfield avoided the uppercut and hit an off-balance Douglas with a straight right to the chin to knock him down. Douglas did not get up from the punch and lost his championship, electing to retire after the fight.

[edit] Later careerDouglas vs Holyfield was a reported $24.6 million payday for Buster, though years later he said on the Howard Stern show he walked away with $1.5 million after taxes, managers, trainers, etc. In that same interview he said he received $1.3 million for the Tyson win, but for the same reasons netted $15,000. Doing little for the next several years, Buster gained weight, reaching nearly 400 pounds. It was only after Douglas nearly died during a diabetic coma that he decided to attempt a return to the sport. He went back into training and made a comeback. He was successful at first, winning 6 straight fights, but his comeback almost came to a halt in a 1997 disqualification win over journeyman Louis Monaco. In a bizarre ending, Monaco landed a right hand, just after the bell ending round one, that knocked Douglas to the canvas. Douglas was unable to continue after a five-minute rest period and was consequently awarded the win by disqualification (on account of Monaco’s illegal punch).

A fight with light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones, Jr. was touted in the late 1990s, although ultimately fell through.[6] In 1998 Douglas was knocked out in the first round of a fight with heavyweight contender Lou Savarese. Douglas subsequently had two more fights, winning both, and retired in 1999 with a final record of 38-6-1.

[edit] Film and gameDouglas made his feature film acting debut in the Artie Knapp science fiction comedy film Pluto’s Plight.

Douglas was the star of the video game James ‘Buster’ Douglas Knockout Boxing for the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis. (In reality, Sega took a pre-existing game, Final Blow, changed the name, and changed one of the character’s names to Douglas’). This game is considered as a response to Nintendo’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, especially since Tyson lost to Douglas, which Sega took advantage in order to promote their early “Genesis does what Nintendon’t” advertisements.

In 1995, HBO aired Tyson, a television movie based upon the life of Mike Tyson. Douglas was portrayed by actor Duane Davis.

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Posted February 25, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Boxing Champs

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