Inside Mike Tyson’s two epic victories over Frank Bruno and what followed each

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Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno shared one of boxing 's most iconic heavyweight rivalries, with the pair clashing twice during their storied careers.

They fought in 1989 and 1996, both times with world titles on the line, and Tyson won the two bouts via stoppage.

Tyson and Bruno first met as amateurs in Tyson's gym in New York, with Bruno recalling the meeting in the new Sky documentary Bruno v Tyson, saying: "I remember when you were 15 in the Catskill and we sparred together.

"I watched you grow up. When [Tyson's trainer Cus D'Amato] is talking he was like a pastor, as well as being a no-nonsense man."

Five years on from that meeting, Tyson became the youngest ever world heavyweight champion when he beat Trevor Berbick to win the WBC belt in 1986.

Bruno, meanwhile, had lost his first world title fight that same year when Tim Witherspoon successfully defended his WBA belt with a TKO victory over Bruno in the 11th round.

While Tyson continued to run roughshod over the heavyweight division, picking up the WBA and IBF belts along the way, Bruno won his next four fights and earned himself a shot against 'Iron Mike'.

First Fight

After the fight was delayed multiple times due to problems outside the ring for Tyson, the pair finally faced off in February 1989.

The delays meant Bruno had not fought in 16 months at the time of the bout, while Tyson had been inactive for eight. After just 12 seconds of the opening round, Tyson rocked Bruno and put him down. However, the Brit rallied and caught Tyson with a left hook which staggered the champion.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Bruno later said: "I did rock him. Only for a little bit. His leg buckled, he dipped a bit. I was trying to follow up. His height being a bit smaller was his advantage as he ducked and weaved to recover for a bit. It was a good moment."

That was the height of Bruno's fleeting success in the bout, with Tyson going on to stop his opponent in the fifth round.

"The corner were saying to put pressure on him," Bruno added. "But all the combinations of the fight being postponed, it was all getting to me.

"I went in there to make a fight of it and did, so I have nothing to feel ashamed of. He was very ferocious, nasty, vicious and a unique boxer. He was an animal and that's what you have to be to get into the ring."

Bruno did not get back in the ring for over two years after the loss, having suffered a retina tear in his right eye.

However, when he did return in November 1991, Bruno worked his way back to the top, winning his next four fights by knockout and earning a shot at WBC champion Lennox Lewis in 1993 which he lost.

Tyson, meanwhile, only fought once more that year, beating Carl Williams by TKO in the first round, and went on to face Buster Douglas in February 1990 in what was expected to be another easy title defence ahead of a blockbuster bout with Evander Holyfield.

However, Douglas pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport when he knocked out Tyson in the tenth round.

Tyson went on to win his next four fights before he was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison for raping Desiree Washington.

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  • Second Fight

    When he was released on parole in 1995, Tyson returned to the ring almost immediately to face Peter McNeeley. By the time Tyson fought Buster Mathis Jr. in December that same year, Bruno had finally won a world title, beating Oliver McCall by unanimous decision to earn the WBC belt.

    The pair then fought for the second time in March 1996 and Tyson dominated the bout, beating Bruno in the third round and dethroning the champion.

    Tyson later claimed he "smelled the fear" on his opponent, while Bruno admitted that he did not feel like a champion.

    The bout worsened Bruno's eye injury and he was forced to retire as a result, while Tyson continued to box for another nine years.

    Reflecting on the rematch, Tyson said: "His own promoter noted later that as soon as Bruno's dressing room door opened for his ring walk, 'It was as if someone had put a pin to Bruno and all the air rushed out'.

    "I knew that Bruno really didn't want to be in there, so all I had to do was be tough and hit him with some good shots and it would be a wrap."

    • Mike Tyson
    • Boxing

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