Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali have a lot of things in common. Both were once considered the most dangerous man on the planet. Both held the world heavyweight championship on multiple occasions. Both will forever be icons in the boxing world. Both could go by just one name and you’d know who was being discussed.
While Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali were part of separate generations, it’s actually a little closer than some people think as another thing the two shared was two common opponents. Here’s a quick look at the two men that fought both Tyson and Ali.
Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali will forever be linked
Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali will forever be linked as two of the greatest heavyweight champions in boxing history.
Looked at by many as the greatest fighter who ever lived, Muhammad Ali took part in some of the biggest bouts in the sport’s storied history. His trilogy with Joe Frazier was absolutely epic and his victory over George Foreman in the much-hyped “Rumble in the Jungle” is viewed as one of the best performances in history. Ali was the first man to win the heavyweight title on three separate occasions and while he might have held on a little too long, he retired with a 56-5 record, with 37 of his victories coming via knockout.
Mike Tyson has made no secret of the fact that he idolized Muhammad Ali growing up. Just over three years after Ali had his last fight, Tyson made his professional debut, knocking out Hector Mercedes for his first win. Tyson would go on to win his first 37 fights, including a knockout of undefeated Michael Spinks, who was actually scared to come out of his dressing room to face Iron Mike. While Tyson would struggle with a lot of issues outside the ring, including a prison sentence that cost him years of his career, he is still looked at as one of the most dominant fighters in history. Like Ali, Tyson held on too long and lost his last two fights. Tyson retired in 2005 with a 50-6 record, 44 of his wins coming via knockout.
Trevor Berbick was Ali’s last fight and Tyson’s first title win
On December 11, 1981, Muhammad Ali, despite pleas from just about everyone to retire, battled Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas in what would be the final fight of his career. The Bahamas became the venue because nobody would give Ali a license to fight in the U.S. Berbick was a solid fighter and only a few months earlier had taken on Larry Holmes (Berbick and Holmes had their own feud that we’ll save for another day) for the heavyweight championship of the world, losing by decision. Berbick came in with a respectable 19-2-1 record as was recognized as the Canadian heavyweight champ, which didn’t hold much weight but was still something. With the signs of Parkinson’s setting in, Ali, now 39, actually held his own for a bit against 27-year-old Berbick but just ran out of gas, losing the 10-round bout by decision.
Fast forward to November 22, 1986. Trevor Berbick had become the WBC heavyweight champion exactly eight months earlier, defeating Pinklon Thomas by unanimous decision, and was set to make his first title defense against a 20-year-old named Mike Tyson that had run roughshod through the heavyweight division since turning pro 20 months earlier. Berbick was simply overmatched. Tyson dominated the fight from the start, battering the champion from pillar to post before knocking out Berbick in the second round to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history.
Trevor Berbick would actually continue to fight all the way up to the year 2000. He was tragically murdered in his home country of Jamaica in 2006 by his nephew and an accomplice.
Larry Holmes pummeled Ali and then got pummeled himself by Tyson
The more-famous common opponent of Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali was the legendary Larry Holmes.
Holmes was actually a sparring partner of Ali’s for a while after turning pro in 1973. Holmes quickly rose through the ranks of the heavyweight division, taking on some of the sport’s biggest names on the way to defeating Ken Norton for the WBC heavyweight crown on June 9, 1978. More than two years and seven title defenses later, Holmes took on Muhammad Ali, who had come out of retirement in an attempt to win an unprecedented fourth heavyweight championship, on October 2, 1980. Things did not go well for Ali, who was advised to not even get in the ring. Holmes beat Ali like he’d never been beaten before. Clearly outmatched, Ali was forced to quit, marking the first time in his career that he’d ever been beaten by stoppage.
A little more than seven years later, Mike Tyson got revenge for his hero. Tyson had watched the Ali-Holmes fight when he was 14 and vowed vengeance to Ali himself, a promise he kept on January 22, 1988. Like Ali was against Holmes, Holmes couldn’t keep up with Tyson. The 21-year-old champion, who had unified the division by this time, pummeled the older challenger, ending things in the fourth round. It was only the third loss of Holmes’ career, the other two coming to Michael Spinks, and the first time he’d ever been knocked out. Holmes, however, would fight for a long time after that, finally retiring in 2002 with a 69-6 record.