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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.

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


Amateur careerEdit

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] Rollie Schwartz, past national chairman of the AAU Boxing Commission, said of Tucker prior to the Olympics, "Tucker is a combination boxer and puncher, much akin to Joe Louis. He comes right at you. I'd take him tomorrow over the two so-called light Heavyweight champs."[4]


International Duals

1980 OlympicsEdit

Since 1979 Tony Tucker anticipated participating in the Moscow Olympics.[5][6] Tucker was an alternate for the United States Olympic Team for the 1980 Summer Olympics (Lee Roy Murphy qualiefied as the prime.) 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 several people including 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.[7][1][8]

Tucker finished his amateur career having 121 fights under his belt, with a record of 115–6.[9][10]

Professional careerEdit

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 championEdit

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. TysonEdit

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%)[11]

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.[12] 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.


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.[13]

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 recordEdit

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)   Billy Wright KO 1 (10), 2:08 May 7, 1998   Sam's Town Hotel & Casino, Tunica, Mississippi, U.S.
64 Loss 56–7 (1)   John Ruiz TKO 11 (12), 0:58 Jan 31, 1998   Ice Palace, Tampa, Florida, U.S. For NABF heavyweight title
63 Win 56–6 (1)   Jerry Haynes TKO 3 (10) Dec 16, 1997   Music City Mix Factory, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
62 Win 55–6 (1)   Abdul Muhaymin UD 10 Nov 18, 1997   Music City Mix Factory, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
61 Loss 54–6 (1)   Herbie Hide TKO 2 (12), 2:45 Jun 28, 1997   Sports Village, Norwich, England For vacant WBO heavyweight title
60 Win 54–5 (1)   Tyrone Campbell KO 3 (10), 2:16 Dec 16, 1996   Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Indio, California, U.S.
59 Win 53–5 (1)   David Dixon KO 1 (12), 2:24 Jun 29, 1996   Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Indio, California, U.S. For vacant NABF heavyweight title
58 Loss 52–5 (1)   Orlin Norris MD 10 Feb 24, 1996   Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
57 Loss 52–4 (1)   Henry Akinwande UD 10 Dec 16, 1995   CoreStates Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
56 Loss 52–3 (1)   Bruce Seldon RTD 7 (12), 3:00 Apr 8, 1995   Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. For vacant WBA heavyweight title
55 Win 52–2 (1)   Dan Murphy TKO 3 Dec 10, 1994   Estadio de Béisbol, Monterrey, Mexico
54 Win 51–2 (1)   Cecil Coffee TKO 2 (10) Jul 2, 1994   The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
53 Win 50–2 (1)   George Stephens TKO 1 (10) Feb 19, 1994   Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
52 Win 49–2 (1)   David Graves TKO 2 Dec 18, 1993   Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Puebla City, Mexico
51 Loss 48–2 (1)   Lennox Lewis UD 12 May 8, 1993   Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. For WBC heavyweight title
50 Win 48–1 (1)   Frankie Swindell RTD 6 (10), 3:00 Dec 13, 1992   The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
49 Win 47–1 (1)   Paul Poirier TKO 4 (10) Nov 7, 1992   Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.
48 Win 46–1 (1)   Everett Martin PTS 10 Sep 12, 1992   Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
47 Win 45–1 (1)   Oliver McCall SD 10 Jun 26, 1992   CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. Retained NABF heavyweight title
46 Win 44–1 (1)   Jesus Contreras TKO 6 (10), 1:27 Apr 22, 1992   Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S.
45 Win 43–1 (1)   Mike Faulkner KO 2 Apr 10, 1992   Toreo de Cuatro Caminos, Mexico City, Mexico
44 Win 42–1 (1)   Kimmuel Odum TKO 2 (10), 1:40 Feb 15, 1992   The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
43 Win 41–1 (1)   Orlin Norris SD 12 Jun 3, 1991   Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Won NABF heavyweight title
42 Win 40–1 (1)   James Ray Thomas KO 1 (10), 1:43 Apr 29, 1991   Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.
41 Win 39–1 (1)   Lionel Washington KO 1 (12), 1:11 Jan 28, 1991   Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S. Won California State heavyweight title
40 Win 38–1 (1)   Mike Rouse TKO 5 (10), 2:27 Jul 19, 1990   Kingdome, Seattle, Washington, U.S.
39 Win 37–1 (1)   Mike Evans UD 10 Mar 8, 1990   Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.
38 Win 36–1 (1)   Calvin Jones KO 5 (10), 2:09 Jan 8, 1990   Great Western Forum, Inglewood, California, U.S.
37 Win 35–1 (1)   Dino Homsey KO 3 (10), 1:37 Dec 12, 1989   Memorial Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
36 Loss 34–1 (1)   Mike Tyson UD 12 Aug 1, 1987   Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. Lost IBF heavyweight title;
For WBA and WBC heavyweight titles
35 Win 34–0 (1)   Buster Douglas TKO 10 (15), 1:36 May 30, 1987   Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. Won vacant IBF heavyweight title
34 Win 33–0 (1)   James Broad UD 12 Sep 26, 1986   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Won vacant USBA heavyweight title
33 Win 32–0 (1)   Otis Bates KO 2 Aug 7, 1986   Houston, Texas, U.S.
32 Win 31–0 (1)   Eddie Richardson KO 4 (10) Jul 10, 1986   Houston, Texas, U.S.
31 Win 30–0 (1)   Eddie Richardson UD 10 Feb 27, 1986   Cobo Arena, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
30 Win 29–0 (1)   David Jaco TKO 3 Oct 19, 1985   Stade Louis II, Monte Carlo, Monaco
29 Win 28–0 (1)   Bobby Crabtree TKO 4 (10) Jun 28, 1985   Hammond, Indiana, U.S.
28 Win 27–0 (1)   Danny Sutton UD 10 Nov 2, 1984   Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
27 Win 26–0 (1)   O. T. Davis KO 1 (10), 1:58 Nov 2, 1984   Cobo Arena, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
26 Win 25–0 (1)   Jimmy Young UD 10 Sep 22, 1984   Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
25 Win 24–0 (1)   Eddie Lopez KO 9 (10), 1:26 Jun 15, 1984   Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
24 Win 23–0 (1)   Dave Johnson TKO 2 (10), 1:16 May 9, 1984   Bismarck Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
23 Win 22–0 (1)   Walter Santemore TKO 1, 2:29 Apr 19, 1984   Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
22 Win 21–0 (1)   Sam Jeter KO 1 (10), 1:29 Mar 15, 1984   Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
21 Win 20–0 (1)   Larry Givens KO 4 (10), 2:30 Feb 24, 1984   Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
20 Win 19–0 (1)   James Dixon TKO 6 (10), 2:58 Dec 20, 1983   Congress Plaza Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
19 Win 18–0 (1)   Lynwood Jones KO 5 (10), 2:12 Dec 1, 1983   Da Vinci Manor, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
18 Win 17–0 (1)   James Holly TKO 1 (4) Nov 7, 1983   Da Vinci Manor, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
17 NC 16–0 (1)   Danny Sutton TKO 3 (10) Aug 12, 1982   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   Richard Cade TKO 7 Jul 8, 1982   Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
15 Win 15–0   Lupe Guerra TKO 2, 1:36 Jun 30, 1982   War Memorial Arena, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
14 Win 14–0   James Dixon PTS 8 Jun 15, 1982   Tropicana, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
13 Win 13–0   Charles Atlas TKO 1 (10), 2:05 Jun 5, 1982   War Memorial Arena, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
12 Win 12–0   Grady Daniels TKO 5 May 18, 1982   Tropicana, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
11 Win 11–0   Frank Farmer KO 1 Oct 17, 1981   Traverse City, Michigan, U.S.
10 Win 10–0   Harvey Steichen TKO 3 (8), 0:50 Sep 16, 1981   Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
9 Win 9–0   Jerry Hunter KO 1 Aug 22, 1981   Glacier Arena, Traverse City, Michigan, U.S.
8 Win 8–0   Chip Tyler TKO 7 (8) Apr 30, 1981   Hacienda Resort Hotel and Casino, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
7 Win 7–0   Al Jones TKO 1 (10) Apr 9, 1981   Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
6 Win 6–0   Robert Evans TKO 6 (6) Feb 23, 1981   Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
5 Win 5–0   Willie Kents KO 1 (6) Jan 29, 1981   Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
4 Win 4–0   Victor Rodriguez TKO 2 (6), 2:17 Jan 16, 1981   HemisFair Arena, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
3 Win 3–0   Max Smith KO 5 (6) Dec 11, 1980   International Amphitheatre, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
2 Win 2–0   Jesse Clark KO 1 (6), 2:04 Dec 2, 1980   Sports Arena, Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
1 Win 1–0   Chuck Gardner KO 3 (6), 2:58 Nov 1, 1980   Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S. Professional debut


  1. ^ a b c d e f Mike Tyson vs Tony Tucker 31st of 58 - Aug. 1987 "The Ultimate"
  2. ^ Felt Forum Features Cup Boxing Tonight. New York Times, October 11, 1979.
  3. ^ American Boxers Striking Gold. New York Times, July 16, 1979.
  4. ^ Schwartz: Sugar Ray Will Feast on Duran by Pat Rushton, Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, May 3, 1980, p. 29.
  5. ^ U.S. Athletes Look to Moscow: Optimism but Apprehension. New York Times, August 13, 1979.
  6. ^ Amateur boxing strong enough to survive boycott by Ed Schuyler (Associated Press), The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 21, 1980, p. 25.
  7. ^ A Shaken Tony Tucker Thanks God For His Life.
  8. ^ The Dead Boxers by Ronnie Shields, Elyria Chronicle Telegram, March 15, 1980, p. 3.
  9. ^ Tony Tucker Amateur Record at the BoxingRecords. Last updated : March 1, 2006.
  10. ^ Unbeaten Tucker is 10-1 underdog, Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, July 31, 1987, p. 26.
  11. ^ A Ringside Affair: Boxing’s Last Golden Age, p. 110.
  12. ^ Gustkey, Earl (January 5, 1990). "For One Moment, Tucker Had It All : Boxing: He came closest to beating Tyson in 1987 and now yearns for another shot at title.". Los Angeles Times. tronc. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  13. ^ George Foreman | Full Address and Q&A (13 July 2016), Oxford Union.

External linksEdit

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

May 30, 1987 – August 1, 1987