On This Day: Mike Tyson vs Julius Francis
By Sean Bastow
The date was 29th January 2000, the location was Manchester, England
This was the first time “The Baddest man on the Planet” Mike Tyson had come over to the UK for a bout and only the second time in his fight career he had fought outside of the USA, the other being one of the greatest upsets in boxing history when he lost to James “Buster” Douglas in 1990 in Japan.
Tyson was on the comeback trail after his 1997 second defeat to Evander Holyfield and had returned to the ring in 1999 beating Francis Botha and Orlin Norris.
The impending arrival of Mike Tyson in the UK caused a stir, as his 1992 rape conviction had led to concern whether or not he should be allowed in the country let alone compete.
On the 13th January the UK’s home secretary Jack Straw announced his decision to allow Tyson to enter the UK for the scheduled bout, much to the dismay of various groups who upon the arrival of Tyson made sure they was on hand to express their anger at the situation by protesting at the airport.
Tyson at the stage of his career was clearly not in the right mental state of mind and lashed out at the protestors by calling them “just a bunch of frustrated women who want to be men”.
Tyson’s opponent was British fighter Julius Francis, who had a record of 21-7 at the time of the bout, having most notably lost to John Ruiz and Vitali Klitschko, however Francis tried hard to sell the fight by telling the media that only he and Lennox Lewis were the only worthy British heavyweights for Tyson to fight.
The fight itself went exactly as most people predicted, Tyson dominating proceedings scoring five knockdowns in the space of only four minutes. The first came with just forty-five seconds left of the first round, Francis was backed into the ropes, and tried to land a right hand which missed leaving Tyson the space to throw one of his trademark uppercuts to send Francis crashing to the canvas not once but twice in the first round.
After surviving the round, Francis went into survival mode as Tyson came crashing forward unloading a barrage of punches to fell the Brit once more. After courageously getting up once more, Francis was sent back down to the canvas with a bang, as another Tyson uppercut landed.
Much to the surprise of onlookers at ringside the fight was allowed to continue and Francis suffered two more knockdowns with the fifth being the final one when referee Mr Roy Francis stepped in to call halt to the bout at 58 seconds into the second round and giving Tyson another stoppage victory on his comeback trail.
Looking back this was one of the most badly matched fights in boxing history, however the fact that we got Mike Tyson in the UK was something that made Manchester come to a standstill for that weekend.