Tyson Knocked Out in Fourth, Future in Doubt
By TIM DAHLBERG, AP SPORTS
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (July 30) -- Mike Tyson saved one more shocking sight for last.
Beaten and battered, Tyson laid helplessly along the ropes Friday night, blood flowing down his face. The former baddest man on the planet stared ahead with a look of resignation on his face as his latest comeback -- and perhaps his tumultuous career -- collapsed with stunning suddenness.
Unheralded British heavyweight Danny Williams did to Tyson what he had done to so many of his opponents in his prime, knocking him out with a savage flurry in the fourth round that may have finally exposed Tyson as a shot fighter at age 38.
In his corner, Tyson apologized to his trainer. Across the ring, Williams celebrated and then proposed to his girlfriend -- who accepted.
And somewhere, lawyers began trying to figure out how Tyson could pay off $38 million in debt when his price will surely plunge after such a devastating defeat.
"People forget this isn't a peak Mike Tyson. This was a Mike Tyson who was 38 years old," Williams said. "I thought I could win."
Williams ended a wild slugfest with a flurry of punches that sent Tyson sprawling into the ropes late in the fourth round. With blood streaming down his face, Tyson appeared to contemplate the end, then made a half-hearted effort to get up before the fight was called to an end at 2:51 of the fourth round.
"I'm sorry. I'm disappointed," Tyson told trainer Freddie Roach.
"You don't have to be sorry with me," Roach replied.
Tyson's handlers said later he injured his knee late in the first round. He was taken to a local hospital to get stitches for a cut near the corner of his right eye and a precautionary CAT scan.
"I felt like I had him," Williams said. "I just remember (Evander) Holyfield fighting him that Holyfield kept coming with shot after shot."
The fight was a free-for-all from the opening bell before an excited crowd at a nearly full Freedom Hall. Tyson landed some huge left hooks early, only to take punishment himself when Williams got over his initial stage fright and began brawling.
Fighting in Muhammad Ali's hometown before a crowd that cheered his every move, Tyson tried with every punch to score the kind of spectacular knockout that would make him a heavyweight contender once again.
But Williams wouldn't go down, weathered the storm, and then came back to dish out more punishment.
"He was a strong guy with a lot of heart," Roach said of Williams. "He showed us things that we didn't see in films. He seized the opportunity of a lifetime."
Tyson, who left without talking, won the first three rounds, but Williams was landing well to the head and when he began throwing punch after punch with Tyson near a neutral corner, Tyson couldn't answer back.
It was Tyson's first fight in 17 months, and only his second since taking a beating from former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis two years ago. But Lewis was a legitimate world champion, while the 31-year-old Williams' biggest claim to fame was winning the British heavyweight title.
Tyson was desperately trying to resurrect a career that made him more than $300 million, but the loss to a 9-1 underdog perhaps signals the end of an era in the heavyweight division
Tyson's manager, Shelly Finkel, said he twisted his knee late in the first round and it bothered him.
"He couldn't get leverage," Finkel said. "When the guy was leaning on him I knew it would be a bad night."
The crowd of 17,253 came to see a knockout by Tyson, and when Tyson rocked Williams with a big uppercut and some left hooks in the first two rounds it looked like they would get what they came for.
But Tyson was cut in the third round, and Williams showed he was going to be the bully in this fight. He hit Tyson on the break, losing a point, then hit him low, and the referee took another point.
The bully was being bullied, and Tyson couldn't stand up to it.
"Every single round that went by, his punching power seemed to grow less," Williams said. "So I knew I was going to take him out."
Williams, who had fought only once in the United States, said before the fight he wouldn't be scared and would beat Tyson in the late rounds, but the end came even earlier than he thought.
Tyson's record fell to 50-5-2 and the loss was his first in a non-title fight.
Tyson won the first three rounds on all three ringside scorecards. But Williams, who weighed 265 pounds to 233 for the former champion, kept fighting back and soon seemed to be getting the better of Tyson when they traded head shots.
In the fourth round, Tyson landed a big left hook early, but soon Williams took over and was landing almost unanswered when he drove Tyson into the ropes with the final punch.
Referee Dennis Alfred began counting and got to five, then waited for Williams to go to a neutral corner, giving Tyson more time. But even that wasn't enough as Tyson lay beaten, bleeding and battered on the ropes.
"He was laying on him a lot. The weight wore him out," Roach said. "He had a great amount of firepower. Mike moved his head well and threw good combinations."
Williams had an impressive record but had never fought a name opponent or top contender. Still, Tyson had ring rust after his long layoff and he hadn't been beating household names recently, either.
Tyson, who blew an estimated $300 million fortune, earned about $8 million for the 57th fight of a pro career that began 19 years ago. He could only keep $2 million of it, with the rest going to pay off some of the $38 million he owes to creditors, under a bankruptcy reorganization plan.
While Tyson wasn't the fighter he once was when he became the youngest heavyweight champion ever 18 years ago, he still was a big attraction.
The crowd was surprisingly good, with promoters claiming 12,021 tickets sold. Outside Freedom Hall a handful of rape protesters waved signs, but inside the crowd was all Tyson's.
On the undercard, Laila Ali, daughter of the former heavyweight champion, stopped an outclassed Monica Nunez in the ninth round of a scheduled 10-round fight.
Fighting in the same building where her father made his pro debut 44 years ago, Ali dominated the fight before Nunez' corner threw in the towel at 42 seconds of the ninth round.
Also on the undercard, Nelson Dieppa of Puerto Rico won a 108-pound title fight with a majority decision over Ulises Solis of Mexico.