In 2020, ESPN premiered a documentary in its 30 For 30 series titled 42 to 1.
The documentary is about the epic February 1990 heavyweight championship fight between Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas which resulted in one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
Douglas would KO Tyson who was deemed invincible at the time.
How big was the Tyson vs Douglas upset?
Only one casino even posted odds on the fight as most bettors believed the match-up wasn’t competitive enough to justify a betting line.
Jimmy Vaccaro, the Mirage race and sports book director at the time and the only bettor offering Tyson vs Douglas odds, recently told US BETS:
“I opened the fight at 27/1. Within probably an hour and a half, I had the first bet.”
“I had a guy bet me $54,000 on Tyson to win $2,000. This guy figured he’s going to put up $54K and pick up $56K a minute after the fight started. So I changed the price. I went from 27/1 to 31/1.”
“Next guy bet $93,000 to win $3,000 at 31/1 … People thought it was like, ‘Come pick up your money in a couple of hours.’ It got to 42/1 if you wanted to bet on Tyson.”
Can you imagine how those gamblers felt after losing 94K and 54K on what was supposed to be a sure thing? Worst case scenario, someone gambled away their savings thinking they could win an easy 2 or 3K.
Let’s put things in perspective, today that would be equivalent of 104K and 181K.
…And incidentally, Douglas was a 37/1 underdog, not 42/1. Tyson was a 42/1 favorite.
On the flip side, according to Vaccaro via US BETS, the largest wager on Douglas was $1,000 and he walked away with that and an additional 37K after the fight.
Was she/he a wealthy person who may have committed to betting 1K against Tyson every time, thinking Mike would eventually lose and they’d hit the jackpot? Or maybe she/he was a boxing insider who was aware of Tyson’s gross lack of preparation and focus for the bout, and thought a motivated Douglas stood a decent chance against the then-heavyweight goliath?
Often referred to as the “Voice of Boxing,” HBO’s Jim Lampley, who is frequently approached by fans who’ll want to discuss the sport, insists Buster Douglas’ shocking upset of then-heavyweight champion Mike Tyson is still the most popular topic bantered.
“Year in, year out it is still Tyson-Douglas,” Lampley told BoxingScene.com earlier this year.
“Twenty-eight years later people still can’t get over it. People freak when I tell them it was an on-merit style loss. Mike had trouble with anyone who was taller, could move and jab, and drop the right hand over the top. Buster was the best he had met in those categories up to that moment.”