Published: October 15, 2007
By Geno McGahee
Part 1: October 11, 2007 – Part 2: October 19, 2007
On March 18th, 1991, the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, would present a bout between two of the top heavyweights in the world. The returning Mike Tyson against the battle-tested and ambitious power-puncher, Donovan Razor? Ruddock. There was some talk about this bout being turned into a WBC Heavyweight Title fight due to the fact that current Champion, Evander Holyfield jumped at the chance at fighting George Foreman for a fortune instead of giving Iron Mike an automatic title shot after his win over Buster Douglas, the man that had given Kid Dynamite? his only defeat. Tyson ?? Ruddock would not be a title fight when the dust settled, but you could have never known by the build up and the electricity in the audience.
I think that an important date that should be mentioned is April 4th, 1990. Michael Dokes, the former WBA Heavyweight Champion faced off against Razor Ruddock in a televised card. At this point, there was Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and everyone else. Even Holyfield lived in the shadow of Iron Mike, but was at least a notable contender for the indestructible champion to eventually knock out. Ruddock ?? Dokes would put the Razor on the map and leave Dokes life in question.
The left uppercut/hook or the shovel punch? or smash? as Team Ruddock called it, was the most devastating punch in boxing. It sent Bonecrusher Smith into dreamland but it also nearly sent Dokes to the grave. Trapped in the corner, Ruddock would land several shovel punches before the referee could jump in. Dokes crumpled into a heap and was unconscious. He was actually out for fifteen minutes. The heavyweight division had a new force of nature and when Mike Tyson was knocked out by Buster Douglas to lose his title, he lost his aura of invincibility, making Ruddock a live dog going into this fight. If Tyson could be knocked out by James Buster? Douglas uppercut, how could he handle the smash?? We were about to find out.
An interesting side note is that Mike Tyson was scheduled to defend his heavyweight title against Razor Ruddock prior to his loss to Buster Douglas, but an ailment would force him to pull out.
Click here to continue reading in the extended section of this post (or click ‘Read More’ below).Ruddock contended that he was avoided because of the easy money? with Douglas that was on the table. The Tyson ?? Ruddock bout was interesting from many angles and a lot of questions had to be answered.
Tyson did have a couple of fights after his defeat to Douglas before taking on Ruddock. He annihilated Alex Stewart and Henry Tillman, disposing of each in one round. They were considered easy fights,? and Ruddock presented what most considered a real threat and most felt that these were the top two big men in the game and I think that Steve Wynn put it the best: Its time to find out who the toughest sucker is.?
On top of being a real threat, Ruddock matched Tyson word for word when it came to trash talk. Mike Tyson, realizing that he had an able foe opposing him both in and out of the ring, escalated his trash talk, stating that if he didnt kill Ruddock, it didnt count. If hes not dead, it doesnt count.? You have to love the way that Iron Mike can sell a fight. Ruddock just smiled in his face and looked at himself as the hero?the man to remove this bully from the game. The news networks picked up the lifestyles of both men, interviews, and Ruddocks confidence boomed, stating that if Mike rushes me and runs in, Ill hit him with the uppercut and thats it.? We were going to be in for a fight.
The night of March 18th was upon us. The audience was large and excited and when Jimmy Cliffs The Harder They Come? boomed through the speakers. Ruddock ran to the ring, excited, and climbed through the white ring ropes, storming around like a caged lion. He was ready.
Mike Tyson was next to come to the ring and he looked uninterested. The fire wasnt apparently there and an upset may have been in the making. There was the rumor that Tyson wasnt happy about fighting Ruddock, believing that he had earned a title shot with his two comeback victories.
Ruddock, 24-1-1, 16 KOs, came in with 10 straight knockouts. Mike Tyson, 39-1, 35 KOs, had knocked out 8 out of the last 9 boxers that he faced, with the only exception being his sole defeat. When the two met in the center of the ring, it was explosive. Ruddock held off the early storm, blocking the smaller Tysons shots with his long arms and clutching when he got close. Tyson was having a hard time getting inside and was actually getting hit for the first time since his loss to Douglas. The shovel punch would catch Iron Mike? coming in and slightly knock him off balance, prompting Ferdie Pacheco to yell, anyone of them can stop it!? Round one was over and Tyson had found a capable foe.
In round two, Tyson would take over. A slip was ruled a knockdown and Ruddock protested, and that seemed to be enough to get him out of his game plan. Iron Mike was in control and Ruddock went to sleep in the ring. He was a zombie trying to fend off a merciless and powerful fighter. Tyson now, arguably, had a lead of 20-17 going into the third round.
The third round would be more of the same with the exception of the last ten seconds when Ruddock opened up and tried to do some damage, but a counter left hook by Tyson would send him down. This was not a slip. Ruddock got up on strong legs but it was becoming obvious that it was only a matter of time before the crowd would be treated to a Tyson KO. The score of that round was 10-8 Tyson, putting Kid Dynamite? in charge by the score of 30-25.
|The fourth and fifth rounds were all Tyson. Ruddock was in survival mode and the body work of Tyson was proving to be too much. This looked like he was chopping down a big tree and eventually it would have to fall. It was a no-brainer on the scorecards: Tyson 50-43. There was no way that Ruddock was going to win a decision in this one.|
|In the sixth round, Ruddock would come alive and stun Tyson with a left uppercut and then follow with some more very big shots. Tyson smiled and asked the Razor? to hit him again and he did. The tide had turned quickly and at the end of the round, Ruddock pushed Tyson across the ring. He had made the statement that he wasnt out of the game yet and there was a lot of drama going into the seventh.|
|The audience was on their feet and waiting to see if Mike Tyson?the real Mike Tyson was back, or did the Buster Douglas defeat have a mental toll that Ruddock would exploit? The seventh round began and Tyson got close, trying to assume command once again, but his opponent was game and was firing back. A right hook to the body followed by a left hook to the head would stun Ruddock and send him stumbling backward into the ropes. Tyson would throw more punches, with only one of them landing. It was a glancing blow, but enough to convince Richard Steele, the referee, to stop the bout, at 2:22 of the seventh round. Ruddock stood tall and said: What?? He could not believe that the fight was over and thats when it got ugly.|
Tysons Trainer, Ritchie Giachetti and Delroy Ruddock, Donovans brother, would get into a verbal fight before escalating to a physical one. Chaos ensued, with members of both Team Tyson and Team Ruddock going at it. Murad Muhammad, Ruddocks Promoter, got some kicks in while Giachetti was down, before the situation had settled. There was a lot on the line in this bout and this bad decision by Steele, a referee that Muhammad had objected to in the first place due to perceived connections with promoter Don King. Steele was still getting heavy criticism for his stoppage in the Julio Cesar Chavez ?? Meldrick Taylor bout, ending the contest with 2 seconds remaining and ensuring that the Mexican Superstars undefeated record stayed intact.
Muhammad could be heard saying, Steele beat us! Mike Tyson didnt beat us! Richard Steele beat us!? The end result actually hurt Tyson more than it hurt Ruddock. In fact, the loss helped the career of the Razor,? as boxing fans and conspiracy buffs jumped on the story. Either it was a bad decision or foul play and Mike Tyson, Don King, and Richard Steele may have been in on it! Ruddock was screwed and people felt for him. This was not fair to Iron Mike and the rematch that was made kept him away from a title shot that much longer.
Tyson ?? Ruddock I proved to be a more competitive scrap than many thought it would be. Considering that Tyson was coming off two first round knockouts of overmatched opponents in Tillman and Stewart, it was nice to see him in there for a few rounds and it was also great to see another heavyweight contender emerge.
As Mike Tyson said, if hes not dead it doesnt count.? Well, Ruddock was still breathing and there was some unfinished business. This was only Part One of the Tyson ?? Ruddock wars.
The Mike Tyson Chronicles: Donovan Razor? Ruddock II
By Geno McGahee-October 19, 2007
The immediate rematch took place on June 28th, 1991. For Mike Tyson, this was an unnecessary fight. Even though he had stated after his first bout with Ruddock that a rematch wasnt a bad idea, he realistically wanted a shot at the title. Although he was heavily favored to win the rematch, he saw Ruddock for what he was: a dangerous puncher with a lot of heart. In the heavyweight division, anything can happen and whenever the smash,? is thrown, there is a chance that the fight could be over.
Richard Steele and his relations or lack thereof with Promoter Don King is where the controversy lied. Steele had been accused of favoring King fighters and many have said that the two had a cushy relationship, an accusation that the experienced referee denied. Most likely, he bought into the Tyson mystique. He saw that Ruddock was hurt and tried to save the injured fighter, even though it was far too soon. The legend that was Mike Tyson forced the hand of Steele and he made the wrong choice.
The biggest loser from the first fight was the winner. Mike Tyson, seen as a poor loser in the past, was now seen as a co-conspirator. If Ruddock got too much confidence or if the momentum shifted, Tyson, King, and Steele, would make sure that the man that they wanted to win, won. The behavior of King and Tyson after the loss to Buster Douglas threw fuel onto the fire. When Iron Mike was clearly defeated, they protested and two of the three heavyweight titles were withheld. The claim that Tyson knocked out Douglas prior to being knocked out was a lame attempt to put the pieces back together. It failed and many saw Tyson-Ruddock I as another example of their misdeeds.
Razor Ruddock was in the position where he had everything to gain and nothing to lose. The loss to Tyson had boosted his notoriety and if he were to come back and with this fight, it would erase the first encounter and put him first in line to get a crack at the heavyweight title. His Promoter Murad Muhammad put it best: Knocking out Mike Tyson is a shortcut to the heavyweight championship of the world.?
The press going into Tyson ?? Ruddock II was not good for Iron Mike. Sports Illustrated claimed that Tyson lost his fury and there was reported animosity between the fighter and his Promoter Don King that became physical. There was the persistent rumor that Tyson threw a toaster at King and then slapped him, which both denied. Another story going into this fight was the weight of Razor Ruddock and his preparations. He was 228 in the first bout and came into this fight at 238. Was he there simply for the payday? The answer was an emphatic no.
Mike Tyson was at his best at the pre-fight hype and comments, noting to his opponent: Im gonna make you my girlfriend. Youre sweet. Im going to make sure you kiss me good with those big lips.? The look on Ruddocks face was priceless. Both men exchanged insults, making this a very hot fight for the boxing fans.
|The fight and this was a great fight. In the first round, Tyson came out like a house of fire, attacking Ruddock, but the Razor? held steady and was working the body of Iron Mike very well. In the last 15 seconds of the round, Mike landed an overhand right that seriously wobbled Ruddock. It was a very good round for Iron Mike, and so too was the second round. Even though Ruddock was losing, he was throwing some very hard punches at Tyson, especially to the body.|
|Two minutes into the second round, an overhand right knocked Ruddock to the floor and broke his jaw. This was going to be a tough night for Ruddock who was also being hit with low blows quite frequently. The Razor would strike back in the third round when he would land the smash? or shovel punch,? stunning Iron Mike. Ruddock would land hard to both the body and the head, completely shifting the momentum. Mike now knew that he was in a fight and the fans that packed the Mirage Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as the pay per view audience at home were in for a Tyson fight that was actually a fight.|
Ruddock would be dropped again in the fourth round from a right cross. He was more off balance, but the sight of Razor? on the seat of his pants put Tyson back into swarm mode but a left uppercut would land and nearly lift him off of the canvas. Tyson would land a left hook after the bell but it was Ruddock that would have a point taken off because of his refusal to go back to his corner. It was a strange call by Lane, but he would not be disobeyed. So, the 10-8 round was now a 10-7 round for Tyson. The consensus is that Donovan had lost all but the third round at this point, leaving the score: 39-34 for Tyson, but the big man would come back strong in the fifth. Don King was beginning to sweat.
The sixth round was an all out brawl with both men trading shots. There is no question that the head movement and upper body movement is no longer there with Tyson at this point, making him a much easier target for Ruddock. At the end of the sixth round, Ruddock landed his shovel punch that knocked the mouthpiece out of his opponent and seriously rattled Mike. Both rounds five and six were Ruddocks, making the score on the RSR scorecard: 57-54 Tyson.
|Round seven was another great round for the underdog. Ruddock and Tyson exchanged vicious punches, but a three punch combination at the end of the round pushed the round in favor of the Razor.? If his strategy was to get Mike late, it was going according to plan. The round pushed the scorecards that much closer: 66-64.|
The amazing thing about this fight was the fact that Ruddock and Tyson didnt bring their A games. They both showed worlds of heart but Tyson was sluggish and the Ruddock that out-boxed Mike Weaver and used a jab wasnt in the ring this night. The jab was nearly non-existent from both men.
The end of round eight would see Ruddock losing a point again for a hit after the bell, and Tyson was starting to get his groove back. He eked out the ninth round but lost a point for a low blow. At this point, the fight was completely up in the air, but for what it is worth, RSR had it: 84-82 for Tyson.
The tenth round would see Tyson punishing his bigger foe, beating him without mercy to the body and making the Razor? grimace in pain. Another low blow would cost Iron Mike another point, making this round an even 9-9, and taking away any advantage that Tyson may have had. It was an action packed round with Ruddock coming on at the end. 93-91 for Mike Tyson.
The eleventh round would see Razor Ruddock more effective again and the plan to wait for Iron Mike to wear out was working and putting the prospective Evander Holyfield ?? Mike Tyson super showdown in doubt. In the first two rounds of this fight, it looked like another Tyson show, but the heart of the Razor? came through and so did the heart of Iron Mike?something that he doesnt get enough credit for.
Tyson would claim the last round and claim the fight as well. RSR had it 112-110 for Iron Mike. The judges that mattered that hot night in June of 1991 had it 114-108 (twice), and 113-109 for the former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world. The two gladiators embraced and the matter was settled. The better man had won, but the masses that thought that Evander Holyfield was just holding the titles for Tyson werent so sure anymore.
A fight after the bout would take place between Don King and Ferdie Pacheco. A comment to Tyson from Pacheco stating that the media was trying to help him enraged the flamboyant promoter. With these two going at it, the audience was nearly treated to another bout?this time in the super heavyweight division. I would have picked Don King to TKO Ferdie Pacheco in three rounds.
With this fight out of the way, Tyson was clear to face Holyfield for the title and it was actually signed. It was going to make both men a fortune, but some indiscretion in Indianapolis would change history. In July of 1991, Mike Tyson would be arrested for rape and would pull out of the super fight, and would eventually go away for three years after being convicted in a questionable trial.
This would be Razor Ruddocks moment. He would move on to face Lennox Lewis and was destroyed quickly and would soon thereafter, fade away. The two wars that he had with the man that was once called, and rightfully so, The Most Feared Man on the Planet,? will live on forever.