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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. 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," 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.
|Real name||Tony Craig Tucker|
|Height||6 ft 5 in (196 cm)|
|Reach||82 in (208 cm)|
|Born||December 27, 1958|
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
|Wins by KO||47|
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).
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.” 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."
Pan Am Trials, Toledo, Ohio, May–June 1979:
- International Duals
- February 1, 1979, Blackham Coliseum, Lafayette, Louisiana: Lost to Nikolay Yerofeyev (Soviet Union) by decision
- February 11, 1979, Estadio Latinamericano, Havana, Cuba: Lost to Hermenegildo Báez (Cuba) by decision
- February 24, 1979, Blackham Coliseum, Lafayette, Louisiana: Defeated Jacek Kucharczyk (Poland) by split decision, 2–1
- February 10, 1980, Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina: Defeated Orestes Pedroso (Cuba)
- February 25, 1980, Blaisdell Arena, Honolulu, Hawaii: Defeated Ene Saipaia (Hawaii)
- March 1980, Schwerin, East Germany: Lost to Herbert Bauch (East Germany) by walkover
- March 1980, Schwerin, East Germany: Lost to Werner Kohnert (East Germany) by split decision, 1–2
- March 1980, Rostock, East Germany: Lost to Jürgen Fanghänel (East Germany) DQ 1
Since 1979 Tony Tucker anticipated participating in the Moscow Olympics. 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.
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 Hearns–Roberto Durán fight. It was the first time Lopez had ever been knocked down. In September 1984, he followed it up by outpointing Jimmy Young .
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. 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%)
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. 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").
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."
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.
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|
|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|
- Mike Tyson vs Tony Tucker 31st of 58 - Aug. 1987 "The Ultimate"
- Felt Forum Features Cup Boxing Tonight. New York Times, October 11, 1979.
- American Boxers Striking Gold. New York Times, July 16, 1979.
- Schwartz: Sugar Ray Will Feast on Duran by Pat Rushton, Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, May 3, 1980, p. 29.
- U.S. Athletes Look to Moscow: Optimism but Apprehension. New York Times, August 13, 1979.
- Amateur boxing strong enough to survive boycott by Ed Schuyler (Associated Press), The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 21, 1980, p. 25.
- A Shaken Tony Tucker Thanks God For His Life.
- The Dead Boxers by Ronnie Shields, Elyria Chronicle Telegram, March 15, 1980, p. 3.
- Tony Tucker Amateur Record at the BoxingRecords. Last updated : March 1, 2006.
- Unbeaten Tucker is 10-1 underdog, Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, July 31, 1987, p. 26.
- A Ringside Affair: Boxing’s Last Golden Age, p. 110.
- 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.
- George Foreman | Full Address and Q&A (13 July 2016), Oxford Union.
|Amateur boxing titles|
| U.S. light heavyweight champion
|Regional boxing titles|
Title last held byTrevor Berbick
| USBA heavyweight champion
September 26, 1986 – May 30, 1987
Won IBF title
Title next held byCarl Williams
| California State heavyweight champion
January 28, 1991 – February 1993
Title next held byLionel Butler
| NABF heavyweight champion
June 3, 1991 – December 1992
Title next held byAlex García
Title last held byAlexander Zolkin
| NABF heavyweight champion
June 29, 1996 – December 1996
Title next held byJohn Ruiz
|World boxing titles|
Title last held byMichael Spinks
| IBF heavyweight champion
May 30, 1987 – August 1, 1987
| Shortest world heavyweight title reign
May 30, 1987 – August 1, 1987