ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., OCT. 17 -- What's next for Mike Tyson? Another Tyrell Biggs? A 38-year-old grandfather from Easton, Pa., named Larry Holmes? Afraid so. Tyson has all but signed to meet the former heavyweight champion, Jan. 23, when many expect a repeat of Tyson's Friday night demolition of Biggs.
Why shouldn't Tyson look forward to more of the same? Even Holmes' one-time trainer, Eddie Futch, concedes that Holmes, a faded former champion, no longer has the skills to handle the withering attack of Tyson. Holmes, in all likelihood, will end up the same way as Biggs -- flattened.
Biggs never had a chance against Tyson. To sell Tyson's first defense of the unified heavyweight title, promoter Don King trumpeted Biggs' 1984 Olympic gold medal and undefeated pro record. No matter that his record was only 15-0 against virtual unknowns. Seven months ago, he fought on a Tyson undercard. Yet the World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation ranked Biggs the No. 1 contender.
Tyson gave away nine inches in reach, 6 1/2 inches in height. But the 6-foot-4 1/2 Biggs never looked so gigantic as when Tyson stretched him out on the canvas. Tyson knocked Biggs into his own corner with a thunderous hook. The referee called off the massacre at 2:59 of the seventh round. Tyson said he could have finished Biggs off much earlier had he chosen.
"I don't want to sound egotistical," said Tyson, "but I could have knocked him out in the third round. But I wanted to do it very slowly. I wanted him to remember this for a long time."
Tyson said he wanted Biggs to "pay with his health for everything he said."
What Biggs had said was that he would whip Tyson. At a midweek news conference, Biggs' manager, Lou Duva, taunted Tyson. In retrospect, they looked foolish.
Tyson did his talking with his fists, scoring his 28th knockout in 32 winning fights, no defeats. Tyson cut off the ring early, leaving Biggs nowhere to run. He weakened Biggs with body shots and wicked jabs and hooks, and opened a big cut above Biggs' left eye that made him a bloody mess the whole fight. Tyson then knocked Biggs through the ropes in the seventh with a huge left, the first knockdown that set up the finish.
"He was swinging from desperation from the second round on," said the unmarked Tyson. "His jab had a sting on it but he stopped punching."
That can happen under a Tyson assault. Tyson keeps his gloves together in front of his face, guards his midsection with his elbows and moves in relentlessly. Sometimes with a smirk on his face.
Against Biggs, Tyson dealt big punishment. Yet, artistically, the 21-year-old champion showed possibly the best jab of his career. He had the power and the poise.
"I feel the jab could be better," said Tyson. "I want it to get better. Every fight we're trying to progress more and more. I'm trying to pick up my experience as much as possible by fighting as often as possible."
As well as a learning experience, Biggs was an easy payday for Tyson, who earned at least $2.5 million. For Biggs it was a million-dollar embarrassment. The brave-talking Philadelphian could barely make it onto his stool after the knockout, and several minutes later his legs wobbled as he left the ring. His face was swollen and bruised. He hadn't the skills to be in the ring with Tyson.
It's questionable whether Holmes has the skills, either, at this point. Yet he was on the scene, among the Convention Hall crowd of 12,000 trying to drum up interest in his comeback. "He fought dirty," Holmes said of Tyson. "He fought with his elbows and everything. But anything he can do, I can do."
Holmes notwithstanding, only one heavyweight would seem able to stand up to Tyson, and that is Michael Spinks.
But Tyson's managers are in no hurry for a fight with Spinks. They recently turned down a $10 million offer from Spinks' promoter, Butch Lewis. They figure the fight will be worth much more in time, and that their fighter will be all the more prepared to fight a cagey veteran like Spinks by the fall of 1988 or even later. So what will Spinks do in the meantime?
"Plan B," said Lewis.
And what is that?
"We're working on it."
It merely will be an opponent to keep the unbeaten Spinks occupied until Tyson's people give the word. Meanwhile, Tyson will continue fighting the Biggses of his division. Spinks can beat Tyson, Spinks' trainer Futch believes. Spinks, said Futch, is unorthodox -- he is gangly -- but an excellent boxer who will give Tyson "angles" and movement. Spinks can take a punch, too, without folding as have so many of Tyson's opponents.
"Bring any man around, I'll fight any man in the world," Tyson said after dispatching Biggs. But Tyson's managers aren't listening just yet to calls for the only worthy opponent -- Spinks.