Modern Classics: Tyson-Frazier


By: Sean Crose

Those who weren’t around at the time shouldn’t be fooled by the title here. No, Mike Tyson never did battle the great Joe Frazier. They were of two separate generations. Tyson did fight Joe’s son, Marvis, however, and it was nothing if not a fight to remember. It wasn’t a long fight, nor was it a close one – yet the brief battle still serves as one of those events that firmly lodges itself into the memories of those who see it. Sometimes brutality is simply too potent to forget. And Mike Tyson versus Marvis Frazier was nothing if not brutal.

Back in 1986, Tyson was well on his way to becoming a household name. Emerging from upstate New York, the protégé of the late Cus D’Amatto was like nothing anyone had ever seen, a kind of thick necked Jack Dempsey for the Regan Era. For Tyson had his hair done like Dempsey. He also entered the ring as Dempsey had back in the 1920s. What’s more, Tyson was frightening in the ring, just as Dempsey had been. Only Tyson was even more powerful than the “Manassas Mauler.” Needless to say, people were paying attention. By the time the summer of ’86 rolled around, Tyson was a mainline attraction on ABC sport’s programming.

Before he became a pop culture icon, Tyson was a true force in the ring.

As for Frazier, he had a famous name and a strong record. Just a few years earlier, he had faced the great champion Larry Holmes on prime time network television. Unfortunately, for Frazier, however, he didn’t get out of the first round of that particular fight. Holmes himself had actually felt bad for the younger man while he was taking him to school. Although he had entered the Holmes’ fight with an undefeated record, Frazier stepped out of the ring that evening having been thoroughly thrashed.

Still, by the time Frazier met Tyson in Glen Falls, New York on July 26th, 1986, he had won six in a row since the Holmes fight, having bested such notables as James Tillis and James Smith. In short, he was no tomato can. Sadly for Frazier, he was no Mike Tyson, either. For Tyson almost literally went through Frazier, putting the Philadelphian in a corner and brutally unloading with punches in the very first round. Frazier’s head rocked back and forth before he quickly fell into a heap on the mat. And with that, the fight was over. Tyson had dusted a name opponent – on live national television, no less – in all of thirty seconds.

It was a stunning beating to witness, almost frightening in its brevity and ferocity. And yet it was only the beginning of Tyson’s golden age. Mere months after the Frazier fight, Tyson would be the youngest fighter to ever win a heavyweight title.

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