Dan Rafael: James Douglas
February, 11, 2013
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Tsugufumi MatsumotoWhen Buster Douglas toppled Mike Tyson in Tokyo in 1990, it marked the upset of upsets in any sport.
Maybe outside of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team's upset of Russia in Lake Placid, N.Y., I view Buster Douglas' 10th-round knockout of Mike Tyson to win the undisputed heavyweight championship as the biggest upset in sports history.
That shocker in Tokyo took place 23 years ago on Monday, which got me thinking about how I didn't see the fight until a week after it happened and how, at first, I didn't believe that Douglas had pulled the unimaginable upset.
I was a sophomore at Binghamton University, and it was a big sports weekend: Tyson was fighting, which was always huge, and there was also the NBA's All-Star Saturday night -- including the dunk contest, which was a big deal back then.
In those days (yeah, I'm feeling old right about now), there was no Internet or smartphones to easily keep tabs on news and sports. No one had cable television in their dorm rooms. The only cable TV available was in the dorm's main lounge, and HBO wasn't part of the package. So the plan was to go with some friends to a buddy's place off campus to watch the fight and the dunk contest.
I never made it. I got really sick that Friday -- I think I had the flu. Whatever it was, I missed the fight and the dunk contest. I was probably out cold by 6 p.m. When I woke up the next morning, my roommate said something like, "You're never going to believe what happened last night -- Mike Tyson got knocked out."
I didn't believe him. I thought he was full of it and just giving me the business because he knew I was so ticked off that I had missed the fight.
He swore up and down that Tyson had been knocked out. I hadn't even conceived of it being a possibility. And because there was no Internet to check and no access to sports news on a Sunday morning on any of the four channels in our dorm, I told him he had to prove to me that Tyson got knocked out.
He went out to the student union and bought the newspaper and brought it back -- proof indeed that Tyson had been dethroned by a guy not expected to last even a round or two.
Back in those days (again, I'm feeling old), HBO didn't usually replay its fights. In general, you watched it live or you wouldn't see it. But because Douglas' upset of Tyson was so monumental, HBO announced it would replay the fight the following Saturday. I had read about it in USA Today, so I made the roughly three-hour drive from Binghamton to my mom's house near Albany, N.Y., to watch the replay (and brought a big sack of laundry, too).
So a week after the upset of upsets, I finally got to see with my own eyes that Douglas had indeed done the unthinkable and knocked out Tyson.