Sports

Meet Al ‘Chico’ Evans, the First Man to Ever Knock out Mike Tyson

Feb. 11, 1990, has become one of those where-were-you moments. It’s the night when Mike Tyson was shocked by a man named James ‘Buster’ Douglas in Tokyo, Japan. The loss was the first for Tyson in 38 professional fights. Not only did Tyson lose, he was knocked out in the 10th round. Although the knockout was the first of his pro boxing career, Tyson had been knocked out before. The first time Tyson ever was KO’d happened in 1982 and it came at the hands of a man named Al ‘Chico’ Evans.

Who is Al ‘Chico’ Evans?

Al ‘Chico’ Evans grew up in the tough section of Chicago. He was the eighth of 13 children. He began boxing at a late age but went on to become a professional boxer, making his debut on Aug. 10, 1986. Although every one of the heavyweight’s boxing wins came via knockout, there were only four of them.

Evans fought 10 times professionally and finished his career with a 4-6 record. All four of his wins came by knockout, but he was also knocked out in five of his six losses. Evans won his pro debut by knocking out Keith Allen, but then he suffered back-to-back losses. After rebounding with three straight wins, Evans was knocked out for straight times as his career came to an end. Evans’ professional career lasted from 1986-1994.

As an amateur, Evans fought for eight years before turning pro. He compiled a record of 45-12. One of those 45 victories came in 1982 when the 27-year-old Evans was scheduled to take on a 16-year-old up-and-comer named Mike Tyson

Al Evans knocks out Mike Tyson

Al ‘Chico’ Evans heard all the hype. He knew he was about to fight a young stud boxer who was knocking everybody out. Evans heard the talk, but he didn’t pay any attention to it. “They said he was knocking everybody out,” said Evans after he turned pro in 1986. ”People were coming up to my room and warning me about him, telling me I better watch out. But I really didn’t think much of it because I never feared any fighter.”

It all happened during the final round of the U.S. Amateur Championships in Indianapolis in 1982. Evans remembered the fight against Mike Tyson as if it took part yesterday. ”He was real wild the first two rounds and he was throwing a lot of punches,” Evans said, ”but I thought I won the rounds anyway. He hit me with a few punches and I could tell he was strong, but a good defense can neutralize a puncher, so I really wasn’t afraid of his punching power. In the third round, I noticed he wasn’t coming out so fast and staying away more. I got a left hook in and that started it.”

Evans, the oldest fighter in the tournament, remembered the end of the fight. “(Tyson trainer Cus) D’Amato was yellin’ and hollerin’,” Evans said, ”and the referee told Tyson to fight. He stepped toward me, but fell again before I could even hit him and that was it. The referee stopped it.”

Evans became a fan of Mike Tyson

Al Evans admitted that Mike Tyson was blessed with that killer instinct that Evans never had. “Mike had that killer instinct,” Evans said in a 2019 article on fightsaga.com. “I never really liked boxing. I didn’t have a killer instinct. I didn’t want to kill somebody’s son or dad just for the audience to clap. Mike had that killer instinct. He’d kill you.”

Evans said it was his experience as a 27-year-old that helped his knock out Tyson. “Experience helped in that fight,” Evans said. “I didn’t care about how little he was or how hyped he was. I wanted to fight in the Olympics.” Evans never got to fight in the Olympics. After he defeated Tyson, he dropped a decision in the semifinals to Craig Payne.

Evans said he continued to watch Tyson progress through the professional ranks where he became the youngest heavyweight champion of the world at the age of 20. “I watched all of his fights,” Evans said. “I told my mom when I came home from that tournament in ’82, ‘I fought this young dude, bet he would have won the whole tournament.’ Turns out he was good enough to do a lot more than that.”