Mike Tyson was one of the hardest punching knockout artists in boxing history. There was one man, though, who he couldn’t knock out in sparring…
During his prime, the youngest ever heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was a cold-blooded, undefeated knockout machine. While he rocketed through the world heavyweight rankings, it was clear none of the regular players on the circuit were a match for him.
As is always the case with prospects who eventually become champions, ‘Iron Mike,’ then known as ‘Kid Dynamite,’ had to prove his worth against regional contenders. There was something unique about Tyson, something different from the average power-punching heavyweight.
Tyson, at 5 foot 8 inches, is incredibly short for a heavyweight, but he used blistering head and foot movement to overcome the height advantage of his opponents. It wasn’t until his 38th professional fight that anyone was able to solve the riddle of Tyson’s speed, movement, and venomous power.
Well, in the ring that is. Here’s an example of the short work Tyson made of sparring partners in preparation for his fights:
Remaining undefeated in the ring prior to the Buster Douglas fight, Tyson had, in fact, met his match in training. Sparring partner and fellow heavyweight Oliver McCall was the only man Tyson could not KO in the gym.
McCall, nicknamed ‘The Atomic Bull,’ would be a future heavyweight champion himself. Considering the wars he gave Tyson in the ring, it’s no surprise he went on to beat legends like Lennox Lewis and Larry Holmes.
Here’s an amazing round of sparring between the two circa 1987 followed by an interview with McCall from 2017 about the infamous sparring wars with Tyson:
Not only was McCall never KO’d by Tyson in countless sparring rounds, he was also never knocked out in his 73-fight career that only ended in 2014. His only TKO loss was to Lennox Lewis in their rematch and that was due to him having a meltdown in the ring.
Speaking with Laughatfirstsite on Youtube, McCall claims other sparring partners were literally fleeing the gym after being hit by Tyson:
“I Studied How They Trained”
“As far as my ring generalship, I studied how they trained, their work ethics, how he was beating up on other sparring partners. I said ‘well I must be doing something right because he isn’t busting my head.’ I didn’t want to get my head busted,”
“I saw a lot of people get their heads busted and scream and run out of there without even getting paid.”
On-and-off, McCall boxed until he was 49 years of age, with his biggest win being a stunning finish of then-champion Lennow Lewis in his backyard of the United Kingdom.