THIS 1990 bout with Alex Stewart was Mike Tyson’s second since a shattering defeat to underdog James ‘Buster’ Douglas, which had derailed Tyson’s plans of fighting undefeated former cruiserweight king Evander Holyfield in a heavyweight blockbuster. The fight with Stewart was appropriately billed as ‘‘The Hard Way Back’’, as both fighters looked to recover from recently suffering their first defeat.
STEWART’S sole defeat, the year before meeting Tyson, came in a spirited eighth-round stoppage loss to Holyfield – the man Tyson was chasing to prove he was still the best heavyweight on the planet. Stewart had given ‘The Real Deal’ problems before a cut above Stewart’s right eye forced the stoppage.
STEWART was chosen with the intention of being a tougher test for the post-Douglas ‘Iron’ Mike than Henry Tillman had been – Tyson had easily dispatched Tillman in 2 minutes 47 seconds last time out. Stewart would bring formidable punching power to the ring having knocked out his opponents in all 26 of his previous victories, but, in the end, he would be given very little opportunity to demonstrate it.
IMMEDIATELY after the bell rang to start the fight, Tyson rushed to the centre of the ring and began to unload a barrage of punches on Stewart, sending his opponent crashing to the canvas. Claude Abrams recalled from ringside, in our post-fight review, how ‘‘the very first punch, a left followed by a right, had Stewart in desperate trouble with about six seconds gone’’.
TYSON’S momentum was halted briefly by a slip, but the fearsome former heavyweight champion soon resumed his attack, landing crushing blows with the left and right to the rigid and retreating Stewart. Soon enough, after just 1 minute 5 seconds, Stewart had crashed to the canvas for a second time courtesy of a big downward right to the head.
STEWART would continue to fight on under an avalanche of pressure from the vicious Tyson, but a crushing left ensured that Alex hit the canvas for a third time. Referee Frank Cappuccino would call an end to proceedings, counting Stewart out at 2 minutes 27 seconds of round number one.
AFTER the contest, Boxing News reported of how Tyson had appeared that night with a clear message to the world – ‘‘he’s mean, merciless and as destructive as ever’’.
THE victory at the Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey, was Tyson’s 19thfirst-round knockout; 25 of his 40 opponents had failed to make it past round two.
TYSON would then defeat Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock, twice, to certify the right to face Holyfield – who had beaten Douglas – for the undisputed heavyweight title.
HOWEVER, before the eagerly-anticipated bout with Holyfield could happen, Tyson would be charged and subsequently sentenced to six years in prison for rape. Tyson and Holyfield would not meet in the ring until 1996.Read more ON THIS DAY articles here.