The Last Great Fight, by Joe Layden

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The Independent Culture

On 11 February 1990, James "Buster" Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson to become heavyweight champion of the world. Tyson, 23, had been laying waste to allcomers since his first professional fight four years previously; Douglas, six years older, had a spotty record, suspect motivation, and was the 42-1 underdog. Joe Layden has talked to all the key figures involved and his account of the fight is compelling, but the background to that collision in Tokyo, and the aftermath, is the real burden of his book. His case, made eloquently and expertly, is that Tyson, and heavyweight boxing, were never the same again. Tyson fought on in between prison sentences, squandering $100 million before becoming a broke, and broken, sideshow. Douglas, meanwhile, lost his title in his first defence and drifted from boxing into diabetic obesity before turning his life around. The last great fight it was not, but it was certainly the last great upset, and it has found a worthy chronicler.

Published by JR Books in hardback, £18.99

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