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I believe it was the great fight writer A.J. Liebling who wrote, “No human being should ever be 3-1 over another human being.’’
What he was saying is something a lot of us either forgot or never understood in the days and weeks before Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas stepped into a ring in Tokyo on this date in 1990. (Technically it was seen on Feb. 10 in the U.S. but because of the 14-hour time difference, the fight actually took place the following morning in Japan).
And that is, when it comes to boxing, there is no one who cannot be hit, no one who cannot be hurt and no one who cannot be beaten, something that Floyd Mayweather will no doubt learn if he decides to keep coming back.
Even Rocky Marciano, the only heavyweight champion in history to have retired unbeaten (49-0), was thought by many to have been beaten by Roland LaStarza in their first fight, two years before Rocky won the title, an indignity he reversed by KO in 1953.
That’s because although boxing is less random than any other sport – terrible decisions aside, there are no bad hops or missed penalties to skew the outcome, and at its top levels the so-called “lucky punch’’ does not exist — everyone who steps into the ring is made of the same stuff. Flesh, bone and blood, all of which sustain damage and process pain pretty much the same way. All else being equal, the difference in most world-class fights lies between the ears, and on that night, Iron Mike was no match for Douglas’ will of steel.
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