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Those who saw it won’t ever forget it. And if you weren’t watching live, it was the kind of event that you remember where you were and exactly what you were doing when you heard that 42-to-1 underdog James “Buster” Douglas, who wasn’t expected to last even a few rounds, had done the impossible: He knocked out the supposedly indestructible Mike Tyson in the 10th round to win the undisputed heavyweight championship.
Decades later it remains the biggest upset in boxing history, a simply unfathomable result, and one of the biggest upsets in sports history. It took place 33 years ago Saturday — Feb. 11, 1990 — on an early afternoon in Tokyo in order to accommodate the live prime time telecast on HBO in the United States (where it was still Feb. 10).
Truth be told, I did not watch it live and was not happy about that. I was a sophomore in college and got quite ill a couple of days before the fight, which I had planned to watch at a friend’s apartment off campus as there was no HBO in the dorms. We were lucky there was even basic cable in the dorm lounge.
Here’s what happened.