Tony Tucker

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Tony Tucker
Statistics
Real nameTony Craig Tucker
Nickname(s)TNT
Weight(s)
Height6 ft 5 in (196 cm)
Reach82 in (208 cm)
NationalityAmerican
Born (1958-12-27) December 27, 1958 (age 60)
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights65
Wins57
Wins by KO47
Losses7
No contests1

Tony Craig Tucker (born December 27, 1958) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1980 to 1998. He won the IBF heavyweight title in 1987, and was the shortest-reigning world heavyweight champion, at 64 days. In an interview to Barry Tompkins, he referred to himself as to the "invisible champion," due to the press and general public largely neglecting him.[1] He is best known for giving Mike Tyson in his prime a relatively close fight, in which he, in words of Larry Merchant, "rocked Tyson in the first round,"[1] but Mike managed to withstand pressure and won the decision. As an amateur, he won the 1979 United States national championships, the 1979 World Cup, and a gold medal at the 1979 Pan American Games, all in the light heavyweight division.

Amateur career[edit]

Tony Tucker became a boxer under influence of his father Bob Tucker, also a former amateur boxer, who became his trainer and manager, put all his wealth into the development of his son's boxing career. Tony fought out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, competing almost entire his amateur career in the light heavyweight division with his billed weight at the 1979 Pan American Games exactly matching the weight limit of the division (178 lbs).[2]

Robert Surkein, the national boxing chairman for the Amateur Athletic Union, said of Tucker: “Believe me, he's better than Leon Spinks. Spinks couldn't hold this kid's gloves at a comparable stage.”[3]

Highlights[edit]

International Duals

1980 Olympics[edit]

Since 1979 Tony Tucker anticipated participating in the Moscow Olympics.[4] Tucker successfully passed pre-Olympic box-offs and Olympic trials, having qualified for the 1980 Summer Olympics, was a member of the United States Olympic Team. President Jimmy Carter ordered to boycott the Olympics, which led the U.S. Team to cancel its participation in the Olympics, instead it embarked on a series of exhibitions in Europe. On March 14, 1980, en route to Poland, their plane Polish Airlines IL-62 crashed near Warsaw, with the U.S. boxing team aboard, consisting of 22 boxers, there were no survivors except for Bobby Czyz, Sal Cenicola and Tony Tucker, who luckily missed the flight and stayed in the United States due to various injuries sustained just prior to the accident. At that point Tucker became religious, believing that God spared his life for a purpose, in order for him to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Shortly thereafter Tucker turned pro.[5][1]

Tucker finished his amateur career having 121 fights under his belt, with a record 115–6.[6][7]

Professional career[edit]

After turning pro in 1980, Tucker's early fights were often shown on NBC, as part of a collection known as "Tomorrow's Champions".

Tucker's progress in the professional ranks was slow. He was injury prone, and he changed managers and trainers several times. Eventually his father Bob Tucker performed both roles. After enjoying a high-profile upon his professional debut, Tucker spent the majority of the 1980s boxing in off-TV bouts. In addition, he injured his knee in a bout against Danny Sutton, which caused him to miss a little over a year.

In June 1984, he scored a win by knocking out Eddie "The Animal" Lopez in 9 rounds on the undercard of the Tommy HearnsRoberto Durán fight. It was the first time Lopez had ever been knocked down. In September 1984, he followed it up by outpointing Jimmy Young .

In September 1986, Tucker finally landed a big fight, against 242 lb James "Broad-Axe" Broad, for the USBA belt and a world title eliminator. Tucker won by unanimous decision.

IBF heavyweight champion[edit]

Home Box Office and Don King Productions orchestrated a heavyweight unification series for 1987, planning among its bouts a match between reigning IBF champion Michael Spinks and Tucker. Spinks refused to face Tucker, opting instead for a more lucrative bout with Gerry Cooney. The IBF withdrew its championship recognition of Spinks on February 19, mandating that Tucker (as the IBF's number 1-ranked contender) face its number 2 contender, Buster Douglas. Tucker won the bout, and the vacant IBF crown, via 10th-round technical knockout.

Tucker vs. Tyson[edit]

Tucker, as the winner of the IBF title, was obliged to immediately defend his title in a unification bout with WBA and WBC champion Mike Tyson, in what would be the tournament final, where Tucker was a 10-to-1 underdog.[1] Before Tucker was managed by Emmanuel Steward, who received a negotiated percent of each payday. By that time for that same purpose a joint venture named Tucker Inc. was formed by his promoters Cedric Kushner (18% of total share), and Josephine Abercrombie with Jeff Levine (also 18%), partnering with Dennis Rappaport and Alan Kornberg (13%,) and lastly Emmanuel Steward (6%). His father Bob Tucker also secured a share in Tucker Inc. (12%)[8]

Before the fight versus Tyson, Tucker has been on an eight-year-long winning streak, his last defeat was in 1979, while competing in amateurs.

Despite having a broken right hand, Tucker faced Tyson on August 1, 1987.[9] Tyson defeated Tucker by unanimous decision to unify the three championship titles, in the process giving Tucker the distinction of having the shortest championship reign in the history of the Heavyweight division (64 days). According to the HBO Punch Statistics, Tucker landed 174 of 452 punches thrown, while Tyson landed 216 of 412, and in fact outjabbed Tucker, who had more than a 10-inch reach advantage (81½" to 71").[1]

The best praise for Tucker's performance at the ring came from one of the HBO hosts, and one of the greatest boxers of all time pound-for-pound, Sugar Ray Leonard, who said that: "What Tucker displayed tonight was the fact that he is a non-conformist. He did what a lot of us thought he couldn't do, and that's why I respect him so much, because he boxed, he clinched, he was very strategic, very tactical, very intelligent fighter."[1]

Coincidentally, eight years later this exact scenario would unfold to give Tucker another title shot, as the WBA would withdraw its championship recognition of George Foreman on March 4, 1995 after Foreman refused to face Tucker (who was its designated #1 contender). Unlike the 1987 scenario, this time Tucker would not earn a championship, as he would lose the match mandated by the WBA, against #2-ranked contender Bruce Seldon.

Comeback[edit]

Tucker returned to boxing in 1990, and by 1992 was back in Don King's stable. He won the NABF belt with a split decision over the highly ranked Orlin Norris, and successfully defended it against future world champion Oliver McCall, winning another 12-round decision. He finished 1992 with a 6th-round TKO of Frankie Swindell and set himself up for another world title shot.

By 1993, Tucker had run his record up to 48–1 and in May of that year he challenged Lennox Lewis for the WBC world heavyweight title. Lewis won a 12-round unanimous decision, knocking down Tucker twice (for a first time in his career.) It was the first time in 34-year-old Tucker's career that he had been off his feet.

"They tried to force me to fight Tony Tucker. And I remember looking at Tony Tucker, and saying, 'Mama didn't raise no fools. I'm not fighting him.' And they took the titles. Some people I'm not gonna fight. That's the good reason. I didn't want to fight him. Too tough."

George Foreman, on his refusal to fight Tucker.[10]

In 1995, George Foreman, who beat Michael Moorer in November 1994 to become the oldest heavyweight champion in history, refused to defend his WBA world heavyweight title against Tucker, choosing to fight German Axel Schulz. For the noncompliance with the rules the WBA officials stripped Foreman of the title. Tucker and Bruce Seldon fought for the vacant WBA belt in April 1995. Seldon won by TKO after 7 rounds when doctors stopped the fight due to Tucker's eye closing shut.

Tucker lost his shot at a rematch when later that year he was outpointed by a newly signed Don King heavyweight, British-Nigerian boxer Henry Akinwande, over ten rounds.

In 1996 he was outpointed by old rival Orlin Norris. He scored two low-key wins in California, and in 1997 traveled to the U.K. to challenge Herbie Hide for the vacant WBO title. Tucker was dropped three times and knocked out in round 2.

In 1998 Tucker challenged John Ruiz for his NABF belt. Despite a big 6th round where he had Ruiz in trouble, Tucker was eventually stopped in the 11th round.

He came back in May to knock out journeyman Billy Wright in one round, but later had his license revoked due to medical concerns about Tucker's vision.

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
65 fights 57 wins 7 losses
By knockout 47 3
By decision 10 4
No contests 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
65 Win 57–7 (1) United States Billy Wright KO 1 (10), 2:08 May 7, 1998 United States Sam's Town Hotel & Casino, Tunica, Mississippi, U.S.
64 Loss 56–7 (1) United States John Ruiz TKO 11 (12), 0:58 Jan 31, 1998 United States Ice Palace, Tampa, Florida, U.S. For NABF heavyweight title
63 Win 56–6 (1) United States Jerry Haynes TKO 3 (10) Dec 16, 1997 United States Music City Mix Factory, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
62 Win 55–6 (1) United States Abdul Muhaymin UD 10 Nov 18, 1997 United States Music City Mix Factory, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
61 Loss 54–6 (1) United Kingdom Herbie Hide TKO 2 (12), 2:45 Jun 28, 1997 United Kingdom Sports Village, Norwich, England For vacant WBO heavyweight title
60 Win 54–5 (1) United States Tyrone Campbell KO 3 (10), 2:16 Dec 16, 1996 United States Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Indio, California, U.S.
59 Win 53–5 (1) United States David Dixon KO 1 (12), 2:24 Jun 29, 1996 United States Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Indio, California, U.S. For vacant NABF heavyweight title
58 Loss 52–5 (1) United States Orlin Norris MD 10 Feb 24, 1996 United States Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
57 Loss 52–4 (1) United Kingdom Henry Akinwande UD 10 Dec 16, 1995 United States CoreStates Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
56 Loss 52–3 (1) United States Bruce Seldon RTD 7 (12), 3:00 Apr 8, 1995 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. For vacant WBA heavyweight title
55 Win 52–2 (1) United States Dan Murphy TKO 3 Dec 10, 1994 Mexico Estadio de Béisbol, Monterrey, Mexico
54 Win 51–2 (1) United States Cecil Coffee TKO 2 (10) Jul 2, 1994 United States The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
53 Win 50–2 (1) United States George Stephens TKO 1 (10) Feb 19, 1994 United States Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
52 Win 49–2 (1) United States David Graves TKO 2 Dec 18, 1993 Mexico Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Puebla City, Mexico
51 Loss 48–2 (1) United Kingdom Lennox Lewis UD 12 May 8, 1993 United States Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. For WBC heavyweight title
50 Win 48–1 (1) United States Frankie Swindell RTD 6 (10), 3:00 Dec 13, 1992 United States The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
49 Win 47–1 (1) United States Paul Poirier TKO 4 (10) Nov 7, 1992 United States Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.
48 Win 46–1 (1) United States Everett Martin PTS 10 Sep 12, 1992 United States Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
47 Win 45–1 (1) United States Oliver McCall SD 10 Jun 26, 1992 United States CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. Retained NABF heavyweight title
46 Win 44–1 (1) United States Jesus Contreras TKO 6 (10), 1:27 Apr 22, 1992 United States Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S.
45 Win 43–1 (1) United States Mike Faulkner KO 2 Apr 10, 1992 Mexico Toreo de Cuatro Caminos, Mexico City, Mexico
44 Win 42–1 (1) United States Kimmuel Odum TKO 2 (10), 1:40 Feb 15, 1992 United States The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
43 Win 41–1 (1) United States Orlin Norris SD 12 Jun 3, 1991 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Won NABF heavyweight title
42 Win 40–1 (1) United States James Ray Thomas KO 1 (10), 1:43 Apr 29, 1991 United States Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.
41 Win 39–1 (1) United States Lionel Washington KO 1 (12), 1:11 Jan 28, 1991 United States Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S. Won California State heavyweight title
40 Win 38–1 (1) United States Mike Rouse TKO 5 (10), 2:27 Jul 19, 1990 United States Kingdome, Seattle, Washington, U.S.
39 Win 37–1 (1) United States Mike Evans UD 10 Mar 8, 1990 United States Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.
38 Win 36–1 (1) United States Calvin Jones KO 5 (10), 2:09 Jan 8, 1990 United States Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.
37 Win 35–1 (1) United States Dino Homsey KO 3 (10), 1:37 Dec 12, 1989 United States Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
36 Loss 34–1 (1) United States Mike Tyson UD 12 Aug 1, 1987 United States Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. Lost IBF heavyweight title;
For WBA and WBC heavyweight titles
35 Win 34–0 (1) United States Buster Douglas TKO 10 (15), 1:36 May 30, 1987 United States Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. Won vacant IBF heavyweight title
34 Win 33–0 (1) United States James Broad UD 12 Sep 26, 1986 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Won vacant USBA heavyweight title
33 Win 32–0 (1) United States Otis Bates KO 2 Aug 7, 1986 United States Houston, Texas, U.S.
32 Win 31–0 (1) United States Eddie Richardson KO 4 (10) Jul 10, 1986 United States Houston, Texas, U.S.
31 Win 30–0 (1) United States Eddie Richardson UD 10 Feb 27, 1986 United States Cobo Arena, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
30 Win 29–0 (1) United States David Jaco TKO 3 Oct 19, 1985 Monaco Stade Louis II, Monte Carlo, Monaco
29 Win 28–0 (1) United States Bobby Crabtree TKO 4 (10) Jun 28, 1985 United States Hammond, Indiana, U.S.
28 Win 27–0 (1) United States Danny Sutton UD 10 Nov 2, 1984 United States Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
27 Win 26–0 (1) United States O. T. Davis KO 1 (10), 1:58 Nov 2, 1984 United States Cobo Arena, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
26 Win 25–0 (1) United States Jimmy Young UD 10 Sep 22, 1984 United States Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
25 Win 24–0 (1) United States Eddie Lopez KO 9 (10), 1:26 Jun 15, 1984 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
24 Win 23–0 (1) United States Dave Johnson TKO 2 (10), 1:16 May 9, 1984 United States Bismarck Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
23 Win 22–0 (1) United States Walter Santemore TKO 1, 2:29 Apr 19, 1984 United States Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
22 Win 21–0 (1) United States Sam Jeter KO 1 (10), 1:29 Mar 15, 1984 United States Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
21 Win 20–0 (1) United States Larry Givens KO 4 (10), 2:30 Feb 24, 1984 United States Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
20 Win 19–0 (1) United States James Dixon TKO 6 (10), 2:58 Dec 20, 1983 United States Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
19 Win 18–0 (1) United States Lynwood Jones KO 5 (10), 2:12 Dec 1, 1983 United States Da Vinci Manor, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
18 Win 17–0 (1) United States James Holly TKO 1 (4) Nov 7, 1983 United States Da Vinci Manor, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
17 NC 16–0 (1) United States Danny Sutton TKO 3 (10) Aug 12, 1982 United States Hyatt Regency, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. Originally a TKO win for Sutton after Tucker was unable to continue from an accidental clash of knees, later ruled an NC
16 Win 16–0 United States Richard Cade TKO 7 Jul 8, 1982 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
15 Win 15–0 Mexico Lupe Guerra TKO 2, 1:36 Jun 30, 1982 United States War Memorial Arena, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
14 Win 14–0 United States James Dixon PTS 8 Jun 15, 1982 United States Tropicana, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
13 Win 13–0 United States Charles Atlas TKO 1 (10), 2:05 Jun 5, 1982 United States War Memorial Arena, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
12 Win 12–0 United States Grady Daniels TKO 5 May 18, 1982 United States Tropicana, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
11 Win 11–0 United States Frank Farmer KO 1 Oct 17, 1981 United States Traverse City, Michigan, U.S.
10 Win 10–0 United States Harvey Steichen TKO 3 (8), 0:50 Sep 16, 1981 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
9 Win 9–0 United States Jerry Hunter KO 1 Aug 22, 1981 United States Glacier Arena, Traverse City, Michigan, U.S.
8 Win 8–0 United States Chip Tyler TKO 7 (8) Apr 30, 1981 United States Hacienda Resort Hotel and Casino, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
7 Win 7–0 United States Al Jones TKO 1 (10) Apr 9, 1981 United States Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
6 Win 6–0 United States Robert Evans TKO 6 (6) Feb 23, 1981 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
5 Win 5–0 United States Willie Kents KO 1 (6) Jan 29, 1981 United States Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
4 Win 4–0 United States Victor Rodriguez TKO 2 (6), 2:17 Jan 16, 1981 United States HemisFair Arena, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
3 Win 3–0 United States Max Smith KO 5 (6) Dec 11, 1980 United States International Amphitheatre, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 United States Jesse Clark KO 1 (6), 2:04 Dec 2, 1980 United States Sports Arena, Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 United States Chuck Gardner KO 3 (6), 2:58 Nov 1, 1980 United States Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S. Professional debut

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Amateur boxing titles
Previous:
Elmer Martin
U.S. light heavyweight champion
1979
Next:
Jeff Lampkin
Regional boxing titles
Vacant
Title last held by
Trevor Berbick
USBA heavyweight champion
September 26, 1986 – May 30, 1987
Won IBF title
Vacant
Title next held by
Carl Williams
Preceded by
Lionel Washington
California State heavyweight champion
January 28, 1991 – February 1993
Vacated
Vacant
Title next held by
Lionel Butler
Preceded by
Orlin Norris
NABF heavyweight champion
June 3, 1991 – December 1992
Vacated
Vacant
Title next held by
Alex García
Vacant
Title last held by
Alexander Zolkin
NABF heavyweight champion
June 29, 1996 – December 1996
Vacated
Vacant
Title next held by
John Ruiz
World boxing titles
Vacant
Title last held by
Michael Spinks
IBF heavyweight champion
May 30, 1987 – August 1, 1987
Succeeded by
Mike Tyson
Records
Preceded by
James Smith
86 days
Shortest world heavyweight title reign
64 days

May 30, 1987 – August 1, 1987
Incumbent