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On This Date in Sports: October 25, 1990: Judgement for Buster

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Judgement Day comes for Buster Douglas at the Mirage in Las Vegas, as he is knocked out in the third round by Evander Holyfield in his first fight after upsetting Mike Tyson in February. Douglas was the ultimate Cinderella story, coming out of nowhere to beat Tyson, who was considered invincible. Holyfield had long been the number one contender for the heavyweight title and was slated to fight Tyson before Douglas shocked the world. 

James “Buster” Douglas was born on April 7, 1960, in Columbus, Ohio, the son of boxer William Dynamite Douglas. Douglas began his professional career in 1981, though Douglas never was the headliner as he usually fought the undercard. This included May 30, 1987, when he was knocked out in the tenth round by Tony Tucker, with the IBF title on the line. The main event saw Mike Tyson knockout Pinklon Thomas in the sixth round with the WBA and WBC titles on the line. Tyson would go on to beat Tucker to unify the heavyweight championship. Buster Douglas won that unified title when he knocked out Tyson on February 11, 1990, in Tokyo.

Buster Douglas was a fairy tale story, Evander Holyfield was “The Real Deal.” Holyfield was born on October 19, 1962, in Atmore, Alabama. Holyfield, the youngest of nine children, looked like he chiseled from stone. Growing up in housing projects in Atlanta, Evander Holyfield took up boxing when he was seven-years-old. When he was 13, Holyfield participated in the Junior Olympics.  At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Evander Holyfield settled for the Bronze Medal in the Light Heavyweight Division due to a controversial disqualification in the semifinals against Kevin Barry from New Zealand.  

Evander Holyfield turned professional after the Los Angeles Games. He quickly rose up the ladder and won the Cruiserweight Championship in 1986. After holding the cruiserweight title for three years, Holyfield moved up in weight class and was considered to be the next big challenge for Mike Tyson as 1990 began. There was a preliminary agreement for a fight between Tyson and Holyfield, as the champion faced Buster Douglas in a tune-up. After Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson, the fight was changed to Douglas versus Holyfield.

The fight between Buster Douglas with a record of 30-4-1 and unbeaten Evander Holyfield at 24-0 was promoted as “Judgement Day,” as the heavyweight title was on the line at Mirage in Las Vegas. In the eight months since winning the title, Buster Douglas enjoyed the life of a heavyweight champion and came into the match against Holyfield in terrible condition, weighing 246 lbs. Holyfield, meanwhile, was a sleek 208 lbs. and in the best condition of his career. When the fight began, it was clear that it would be over quickly, as the champion was sluggish with Holyfield dominating the first two rounds. In the third round, Douglas missed an uppercut opening the door for Evander Holyfield to land a straight right to the chin. The punch dropped Buster Douglas flat on his back for a count of ten.

Buster Douglas, who came out of nowhere and won the championship, dropped off the face of the earth as he retired from boxing and struggled with health problems. Douglas returned to the ring in 1996, fighting in several small bouts over the next two years. Meanwhile, Evander Holyfield spent much of the next 12 years as Heavyweight Champion, winning the title on four separate occasions.