Mike Tyson vs. Pinklon Thomas was billed as “Hard Road to Glory“….a professional boxing match contested on May 30, 1987 for the WBA and WBC heavyweight championships. In 1986, the three major boxing organizations, the WBA, WBC and IBF teamed up with HBO to develop a unification tournament that would ultimately unify all three Heavyweight titles….determining the next Undisputed Champion. The first fight in the series pitted WBC Heavyweight champion Pinklon Thomas against Trevor Berbick…..where Berbick would capture the WBC Heavyweight title after defeating Thomas by unanimous decision….moving on to face the undefeated Mike Tyson in his first title defense. Tyson dominated Berbick in their match….knocking out the champion in the second round to win his first heavyweight championship. Meanwhile, James “Bonecrusher” Smith would defeat Tim Witherspoon to become the new WBA Heavyweight champion….thus setting up a match with Tyson with both fighter’s titles on the line….which Tyson would win by unanimous decision. The IBF champion Michael Spinks was scheduled to defend his title against Tony Tucker with the winner of that match moving on to face the winner of the Tyson–Smith bout. However, Spinks decided to pullout of his match with Tucker….instead choosing to face Gerry Cooney in a more lucrative fight that would pay him $4 million….which led to the IBF stripping Spinks of their title. As a result, the organizations sanctioned an event that would see Tyson defend his WBA and WBC titles against Thomas….while Tony Tucker and James “Buster” Douglas would meet each other for the vacant IBF crown. The winners of these two matches would then face one another for the right to become the next Undisputed Heavyweight Champion.
In the Pinklon Thomas fight….Tyson was the aggressor for nearly the entire fight….constantly getting the better of Thomas with his power punches. Tyson was nearly able to get the victory in the first round….for with about 40 seconds left in the round….Tyson staggered Thomas with a left hook–right hook combination. With Thomas’ back now against the ropes….Tyson delivered an 8-punch combination in an attempt to get the knockout victory….but Thomas was able withstand Tyson’s assault and survived the round without being knocked down. Thomas was able to rebound and last another four full rounds with Tyson….using his left jab to keep Tyson off-stride while clinching Tyson whenever Tyson came close. The fight would come to an end with a minute remaining in round 6….as with 30 seconds into the second minute….Tyson was able to catch Thomas with a left hook that clearly hurt the challenger. Tyson would follow this with a relentless 15-punch combination that dropped Thomas to the canvas for the first time in his professional career. Before referee Carlos Padilla, Jr. could reach the count of 10….Thomas’ trainer Angelo Dundee entered the ring causing Padilla to stop the fight and officially declare the result a technical knockout victory for Tyson.
When Spinks was stripped of the crown by the IBF for refusing to fight their mandatory challenger Tony Tucker….and accepting a higher offer to fight Gerry Cooney instead….so when Spinks knocked out Cooney in five rounds….and after Mike Tyson had unified the Heavyweight belts….fans started clamoring for a fight between them as many still recognized Spinks as the legitimate Lineal champion. Cooney was far past his prime when he made an ill-advised comeback against former world heavyweight and world light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks. Boxing carefully, with constant sharp counters….Spinks knocked him out in round 5….as seen in this video…..along with the ABC’s in-studio program hosted by Jim Lampley and Alex Wallau….in which they interview Tyson and Spinks after their victories….then Lampley heads-up a panel discussion with boxing sportswriters Wally Matthews with the Long Island Newsday, Mike Marley of the New York Post, Mickey Duff event promoter, Jack Ober mayer boxing writer, Dick Young of the New York Post and Howie Albert manager of Tyson….which is very interesting to watch.