Why is Mike Tyson so iconic?
Mike Tyson was the youngest man to win the heavyweight title. He was just 20 years old when he defeated Trevor Berbick on November 22, 1986.
He’s also a fight legend and one of the most popular athletes the world has ever seen.
Let’s not forget that Iron Mike, in his early 20s, cleaned an otherwise dull division during the 1980s and before other legends such as Holyfield, Lewis, George Foreman, and Riddick Bowe became top contenders.
Mike had many ups and downs in his eventful career that spanned 21 years, from 1985-2005. And he, like the rest of us, wasn’t immune to weight and physique shifts over long periods.
And while Tyson experienced enormous weight gains between bouts, he never entered the ring with a spare tire or noticeably out of shape; But he certainly appeared more chiseled at times.
Standing 5’11, Mike was short for a heavyweight even by 1980s and 90s standards but was incredibly fast and strong, and possessed underrated defensive skills. And visually, he looked every bit a menacing force despite his height.
Mike looked the part.
Let’s take a look back at Mike Tyson’s weight changes and body transformations during his career.
March 6, 1985
Weight: 214 lbs
Result: TKO 1 vs Hector Mercedes
Lean but wide, we see a young, hungry Tyson sporting a six-pack and chiseled to the gills. Ahhh… to have a teenage metabolism again. Mike won that fight in the first round.
Fight No. 3
May 23, 1985
* Weight: 212 lbs
Result: Won KO 4 vs Dan Halpin
* Mike’s lightest weight of his career.
Fighting nearly every month and sometimes more than once in a calendar month, Tyson is a quick, well-conditioned fighting machine with an intimidating physique.
Fight No. 18
February 16, 1986
Weight: 217 lbs
Result: TKO 1 vs Jesse Ferguson
Tyson defeated his first formidable foe, Jesse Ferguson (then 14-1), and was built like a brick sh*thouse.
Fight No. 28
November 22, 1986
Weight 221 1/4
Result: Won TKO 2 vs Trevor Berbick
Already with 27 pro fights, a 20-year-old Tyson dispatched Trevor Berbick to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history; But Berbick owned only one of 3 recognized belts. There was more to accomplish.
Still ripped, Tyson is 7 1/4 lbs heavier than was the case in his pro debut 1 1/2 years earlier.
Fight No. 35
June 27, 1988
Result: Won KO 1 vs Michael Spinks
In what would be the apex of his career, Tyson, now already the undisputed heavyweight champion, KO’d lineal champ Michael Spinks in 91 seconds to solidify his place in heavyweight history.
There had been reports of an overconfident and out-of-shape Tyson during training. And thanks to Mike’s marriage with Robin Givens and their many public photos and interviews, the public saw Mike sporting a few extra pounds between fights.
When the legend tipped the scales at 218¼ for his bout with Spinks, Tyson became an even heavier favorite. Let’s not forget he was 3 lbs lighter than he was against Berbick some 18 months prior. To many that meant he was rugged, in shape, and ready to fight.
Fight No. 36
February 25, 1989
Weight: 218 lbs
Result: Won TKO 5 Frank Bruno
In his next fight, following an 8-month layoff, Tyson weighs only 218 but is clearly not as shredded as we were accustomed to seeing. During this time Mike got divorced, changed trainers and promoters, and was starting to party a bit more. On this night, Tyson was rocked for the first time in his career and later admitted he didn’t train properly for this bout.
Fight No. 38
February 10, 1990
Result: KO 10 vs Buster Douglas
An ill-prepared Tyson would lose for the first time in his career in what many consider the biggest upset in boxing history. His timing and coordination were off and, although still muscular and buff, Tyson lacked the ripples and hardness he displayed earlier in his career.
Fight No. 40
December 8, 1990
Result: Won TKO 1 vs Alex Stewart
Rededicated after losing, the old Tyson was back!! Ripped and angry, Mike showcased a harder physique, and his opponent, Alex Stewart, wouldn’t last one round.
February 10, 1992
Weight: 250 lbs (estimated)
Tyson was convicted on the rape charge on February 10, 1992, and was clearly on the chunky side upon entry into what is now the Plainfield Correctional Facility.
Fight No. 43
August 19, 1995
Weight: 220 lbs
Result: Won DQ/TKO 1 vs Peter McNeeley
After a 4 year hiatus from boxing, 29-year-old Mike Tyson comes back to the ring sporting new tattoos and looking the most shredded we’ve seen him. At no other time in his career was Mike so ripped.
Fight No. 52
October 13, 2001
** Weight: 239¾
Result: Won TKO 6 vs Brian Nielsen
** The heaviest weight Mike entered the ring.
Now in his mid-30s, Tyson enters the ring at the highest weight in his career. But this thicker version of Tyson, although not as shredded as in years past, is still gritty. Given his opponent was 260 lbs, it’s not surprising Mike came in heavier.
Incidentally, this 240 lb version of a 35-year-old Mike looked a bit harder than the 220 lb version of the mid-20s Tyson who faced Bruno and Douglas.
Fight No. 56
June 11, 2005
Weight: 233 lbs
Result: Lost TKO 6 vs Kevin McBride
Two and a half weeks before his 39th birthday, Tyson fights for the last time. At 233 lbs, he’s 19 lbs heavier than when he debuted 20 years prior. Although he was slow, ill-prepared, and lackluster and his body lacked the definition it had during his prime (when he weighed between 215 and 220 lbs), his physique suggests that he’d trained hard and taken the fight seriously.
Tyson even referenced his physique after the fight, acknowledging it’s easier to get your body in shape than to get into true, elite-level fighting shape.
“I just don’t have the desire to fight no more,” Tyson said after the fight.
“I wasn’t truly into it. If you’re a fighter your heart has to be in it more than your physical attributes. There’s nothing like the fighting heart, and I don’t have the fighting heart for that kind of work.”
“I’m pretty vain. I like the way my body looks so I want to keep in good shape, but I don’t want to fight no more,” he said.