On this day 36 years ago, Mike Tyson etched his name into the historic books.
'Iron Mike' is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers to ever put on gloves, and for good reason. While he was dangerous even late into his 30s, Tyson's best work was done earlier in his career.
In fact, his early rise is one of the most spectacular things to ever happen in heavyweight boxing. Tyson had a peek-a-boo style with rare power and speed that wasn't seen in the weight class until he burst onto the scene.
After racking up a 27-0 professional record within a year and a half, he was granted a title shot against Trevor Berbick. The then-WBC Heavyweight Champion had defeated Pinklon Thomas to win the title and previously defeated Muhammad Ali, when 'The Greatest' was in the twilight of his career.
Tyson and Berbick were scheduled to face off on November 22, 1986 at the Las Vegas Hilton in Nevada. Despite being the champion and a much more accomplished boxer, Berbick headed into the title defense as a 3-to-1 betting underdog.
On fight night, fans got to see that the oddsmakers had it correct. Tyson easily dominated and won via a vicious second-round knockout. At just 20 years old, he became heavyweight champion, breaking Floyd Patterson's record.
Mike Tyson discusses fighting Trevor Berbick
Despite having millions of dollars and a heavyweight title on the line, Mike Tyson wasn't fighting for himself. Instead, he fought for Muhammad Ali.
Five years before Trevor Berbick faced 'Iron Mike', he faced 'The Greatest'. Sadly, this was far from Ali at his peak. He came off a brutal beating at the hands of Larry Holmes and was now facing another young lion.
As with what normally happens in boxing, the younger boxer defeated the older one. Although Ali showed heart, he was outboxed and battered by Berbick en route to a decisive defeat. That loss stung the former champion, but it also stung Tyson.
Years later, Mike Tyson remembered the way Berbick had defeated his idol and wanted to hurt him for it. In an interview with Vlad TV, he revealed:
“100 percent [it was revenge for Ali]. Yes. No Doubt about it. I was going to kill him [Berbick]. He was hitting Ali really hard with everything he had. Ali didn’t have nothing left. He was trying to kill him. I said, 'Oh, I can’t wait until I get him.'”
Watch the interview below: