How hard does Mike Tyson punch? Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Larry Holmes and more reveal what it's like to take Tyson's punches (2023)

When Mike Tyson walked away from boxing in 2005, it looked as though nobody would have to feel his immense power ever again.

But 15 years on, the man recognised as one of the sport's most ferocious punchers came out of retirement for an exhibition bout against Roy Jones Jr.


The two battled out an entertaining draw and now ‘Iron Mike’ is looking for his next challenge.

The cult of Tyson has remained since the short, muscular teenager climbed through the ropes in March 1985 at the age of 18.

He wasted little time on his way to heavyweight stardom, winning the title at 20, and drawing millions of eyes to the sport.

He’s still going strong despite nearing 55 years old and, as he searches for his next victim, has looked back at how past opponents have described sharing the ring with 'The Baddest Man on the Planet'.


Jesse Ferguson - February 16, 1986

Early in his career, Tyson lost his mentor and father figure Cus D'Amato, but continued to fight monthly as he sought to fulfil Cus' prophecies.

In fight number 18 he knocked out Ferguson in six rounds, the first time he'd been taken so far into a bout.

Ferguson told Ring Magazine: "Tyson was unstoppable when we fought. He caught me with a great shot. He hit me with an uppercut that made my eyes water.

"I held on until I heard the bell, but after that my corner couldn't stop my nose from bleeding.

"It was a big distraction. I had to keep holding until the referee said enough was enough.

"Tyson was strong and fast, but everything was in his favour as we were in his hometown.

"He's one of the nicest guys I've ever met in the game. I sparred with him for 11 of his title fights."


Marvis Frazier - July 26, 1986

In one of his most famous early fights, Tyson made a statement by securing the quickest win of his entire career.

Joe Frazier's son, Marvis, was the unfortunate victim, who was knocked out in just 30 seconds.

Frazier simply told Boxing News: "I threw a jab and I don't remember anything else."

Larry Holmes - January 22, 1988

Not long after the Frazier win, Tyson became WBC heavyweight champion by beating Trevor Berbick and then went to also collect the WBA and IBF titles.

Former long-reigning champion Holmes eyed the new champion and thought he could come back out of retirement to reclaim the throne. It ended within four rounds.

Holmes told Ring Magazine: "When I fought Mike Tyson, I was off for two years. I hadn't been in shape to fight him and they gave me two months to get ready.

"Tyson's a good puncher, he's down low. He was good, he was short and he had to get up to get to you.

"Tyson was good, but there was nobody there [in the heavyweight division at the time]. No Muhammad Ali, no [prime] Larry Holmes, no George Foreman.

"I should have had a tune-up. No excuses, Mike Tyson whupped me fair and square."


Michael Spinks - June 27, 1988

Despite collecting all of the sanctioning body belts, Tyson was still not fully considered as undisputed champion until he fought Spinks.

The American was the only man left disputing Mike's reign, but famously lost his Ring Magazine and lineal titles in just 91 seconds.

Spinks told Ring Magazine: "I knew I had a tough fight on my hands and tried to get through it as best I could and I came up short.

"He had good hand speed. That was one of his biggest assets. He had power and hand speed and that was hard to beat.

"He knew how to get in real fast. That was one of his strengths too. He’d slide up on you real quick and get in the punches.

"He was very strong. I don’t know what made him so strong. Mike Tyson was most definitely the biggest puncher I ever fought."


Peter McNeeley - August 19, 1995

Tyson was dethroned by Buster Douglas in one of boxing history's biggest upsets in 1990, then saw his life spiral out of control as he was convicted of rape and sentenced to six years in prison in 1992.

When released in 1995 after serving less than three years, he beat McNeeley within one round of his comeback fight.

McNeeley told Ring Magazine: "I did what I said I was going to do and I went right at him.

"He had a lot of experience, so when I did what I did I was off-balance with the first knockdown and he caught me with a really good straight right.

"Then I went right at him again and at the end he caught me with his best punch, the uppercut, and I went down.

"He was all speed, he had blinding fast speed, it surprised me how fast.

"I don't care what fighter you are - any fighter over 200lbs can punch - but with him, the power and that speed? Deadly combination."


Evander Holyfield - November 9, 1996 and June 28, 1997

Tyson won back two heavyweight belts and then went into his most iconic rivalry against Holyfield.

In the first fight, Tyson was stopped in round 11 and, in the second fight, he was disqualified for biting his opponent's ear in round three.

Holyfield told Ring Magazine: "He was a good fighter, a very talented fighter and he had some skills that other people didn't have.

"I was a good boxer and he was a good puncher, and he was very technical with a lot of things.

"I hit him with some good shots at the end. He never did go down and I hit him with a lot of shots that had put a lot of people down.

"He showed that he did have the heart. I hurt him a lot and the referee stopped the fight."


Julius Francis - January 29, 2000

Following the disgrace of the Holyfield rematch, Tyson headed abroad for part of his rebuilding job.

Two fights in the UK followed - first being a second-round stoppage of Francis in Manchester.

"I only remember the first knockdown," he told

“I thought, ‘Who the f*** do you think you are hitting me? So I went toe-to-toe with him.

“If I had boxed and run around the ring I do not think I would have got any respect from him. I’ve got no regrets.

“I’ve lived a relatively good life and been able to say I became a professional boxer and foughtone of the baddest guys who ever boxed."


Lou Savarese - June 24, 2000

After Francis, Tyson continued his comeback with a 38-second stoppage of Savarese in Glasgow.

Savarese told Ring Magazine: "When you're fighting Tyson, the whole hype behind it, the mystique about him...

"I fought [George] Foreman, I fought [Evander] Holyfield, but when you fight Tyson it's so different with the magnitude and how much attention it gets.

"I always thought I could win in my head - it doesn't mean I can... Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

"The thing about him that's amazing is there are guys that are strong and there are guys that are fast. He's strong and fast.

"It's so deceiving how quick he is. That's what makes him so different. You don't realise how quick he is until you get in there with him."


Lennox Lewis - June 8, 2002

Tyson would have one final shot at the heavyweight world title against Lewis, who had beaten Holyfield to become undisputed champion.

It ended with 'Iron Mike' knocked out in round eight.

Lewis told Boxing News: "Everyone makes the argument that I didn't beat a young Mike Tyson.

"That argument is wrong because he wasn't fighting a young Lennox Lewis either. Tyson's fighting style hadn't changed, I felt his power in the beginning of the fight.

"Early on I wanted to control the ring, but so did he and I realised I was fighting his fight.

"He threw a couple of nice shots that clipped me and my trainer Emanuel Steward said, 'Why are you fighting like that? You're giving him a chance.'

"Even though I was in control I was always careful. I couldn't presume the fight was won before it was.

"The only time I saw the fight go out of him was when he attempted to get back up and the referee waved it off."


Danny Williams - July 30, 2004

The final years of Tyson's career were sad to see as the man, now in his late-30s, deteriorated and suffered two more knockout defeats.

He was first stopped in four by Williams in 2004, before later ending his career against Kevin McBride.

Williams told Ring Magazine: "I totally believed in myself 100 per cent, no fear whatsoever.

"The first thing that shocked me was his punching power. He was so fast as well, it was scary.

"When he first hit me, it was a weird feeling. It was easily the hardest I've ever been punched. I was expecting it, but it still came as a shock.

"I maintained my confidence and just said to myself, 'Just ride the storm and come back later.'"


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