“The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changed Their Lives Forever” by Joe Layden
Boxing, history, upsets
October 2, 2007
5 of 5 stars (Outstanding)
It was considered to be one of the greatest upsets in the history of boxing. On February 11, 1990, James “Buster” Douglas, a 42-1 longshot against heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, knocked out the champion in the tenth round to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. This book by Joe Layden not only captures the events and magnitude of the fight itself, but also portrays both of the fighters and the paths they took both before and after that fight.
Nearly every aspect of the actual fight is detailed well – from the opening bell when Douglas showed that Tyson would not intimidate him to the eighth round knockdown of Douglas that was later protested by Tyson’s manager Don King as a “long count”, to the devastating punch in the tenth round that made Douglas the champion, everything about the fight is covered.
However, the true beauty of the book is the writing about both fighters and important people in their lives. Layden treats controversial subjects well, such as some of Tyson’s worst moments like his 1992 rape conviction or his stormy marriage to actress Robin Givens. Oh, yes, Tyson’s boxing career and training are also well-researched and detailed.
Douglas’s story gets equal billing, but instead of the headlines, Layden covers the personal relationships that made Douglas the man he became. The first chapter is a brief history of his father’s boxing career and the toughness he displayed – though not all of it was passed down to his son. The relationship Douglas had with his managers, his wife and his parents are captured well here, enough to make the reader feel that he or she has known Douglas personally.
Because of the way he writes about each fighter, the differences between them are stark and the reader will be able to note these right away. Differences such as the even keel that Douglas tried to live his life as opposed to the extremes of Tyson. The differences in the way each man handled his money, his fame and his championships are also evident in the manner in which Layden portrayed the two men.
Not only because of the historical nature of the bout, this is a book that all boxing fans should include in their libraries because of the amount of information on the two fighters and how well each one is portrayed. This was an excellent book that was well worth the time it took to read.
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