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Mike Tyson Trainer Fired Him Up With $22 Million Purse On First-Round KO

Mike Tyson Trainer Fired Him Up With $22 Million Purse On First-Round KO

Mike Tyson was in a rush to destroy Michael Spinks, 32 years ago today - and with good reason as his trainer told Iron Mike pre-fight he'd bet $22 million on a first-round KO.

"My trainer told me before I left [for the ring] that he bet both of our purses that I'd knock him out in the first round," said Tyson post-fight, when asked about the extreme urgency which saw him demolish the unbeaten Spinks in 91 seconds.

If any place is crazy enough to take a bet that size, Atlantic City, New Jersey might be the place.


Tyson doubled-down on his comments in the press conference afterwards, explaining:

"Before I left my penthouse, my trainer told me: 'I have some news to tell you: it's either good or bad - it depends on you. I took the money for both of our purses, and bet that you'd knock him out in the first round.'

"And I didn't know if he was fooling or not! Because I know he likes to gamble - and I'm saying, did he really do this?

"When the fight was over, I said: 'Where's the $45 million?' He said: 'I was only kidding.'"


Trainer Kevin Rooney laughs sheepishly alongside the animated 21-year-old, as Tyson tells the story following what's widely considered the greatest win of his career.

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Tyson had collected all of the alphabet title belts by 1988 - but Spinks was the lineal champion, so their clash billed as 'Once And For All' was seen as deciding the planet's best heavyweight.

Spinks was guaranteed $13.5 million, while Tyson's purse was a reported $22 million - which Rooney managed to convince his fighter he'd gambled, in its entirety, on a first-round KO (at fictional odds of around evens, if Tyson believed the bet was returning $45 million).

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As a way to psych up a prime Tyson, it seems unnecessary. He was known to get into a violent, brutal mindset pre-fight - punching holes in dressing room walls before he stalked to the ring in his stripped-back attire.

In fact, Spinks' team spectacularly shot themselves in the foot before this contest. They deliberately engineered pre-fight delays, including questioning Iron Mike's hand wraps in an attempt to get in his head, until Tyson was overflowing with barely contained anger.

"You know I'm going to hurt this guy," said Tyson to Rooney before he left for the ring.


Spinks, despite his veteran status, was actually the one feeling intimidated by the delays - especially as he could hear Tyson thumping holes in their joining walls. People close to him later claimed Spinks was terrified of facing Tyson and didn't want to leave his dressing room when fight time finally came.

The 31-year-old certainly boxed like a man lacking tactical control, as he stood in front of Tyson instead of trying to frustrate him. He took just eight total punches, but Tyson's devastating mix of compact hooks and uppercuts left Spinks glassy eyed on the canvas and counted out.

It was the 16th first-round knockout of Tyson's career and the most impressive so far. Although it did "only" earn the champ his $22 million purse, rather than the $45 million that his trainer Rooney half convinced him it would.

Topics: Mike Tyson, Boxing News, Baddest Man on the Planet, Boxing, Fight News, Iron Mike

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Alex Reid

Alex Reid is a writer at SPORTbible who’s previously strung words together for FourFourTwo, Boxing News, The Guardian and, yes, Cruise International (it’s about big ships, not Tom). Interests range from football and boxing to real sports like WWE and darts. He is not a cage fighter.