He was the challenger against Ali, and the defender against Tyson; but always his opponent was the big attraction. Indeed, Berbick is often considered more milestone than competitor: Trevor Berbick, the last boxer to fight Muhammad Ali, and the man Mike Tyson beat to become the youngest heavyweight champion in history.
His legacy is reduced to a mere dozen rounds: ten with the 39-year-old Ali on December 11, 1981, when the revered boxer-cum-dancer couldn’t defeat 27-year-old Berbick; and two on November 22, 1986, with 20-year-old Tyson, whose brute force and ferocity dethroned the 32-year-old Berbick, stripping him of both title and self-respect.
But he deserves to be remembered for more than that. His professional career consisted of 62 fights, with 50 wins (33 by knockout), 11 losses and one draw: Berbick was not an accidental boxer. He fought as a professional from 1976 until 2000 (when his licence was revoked after a brain scan revealed a blood clot). He stood his ground for fifteen rounds with Larry Holmes (who said he was “strong and confident and could take a punch”); and he beat solid contenders like John Tate, Greg Page and Pinklon Thomas to win the WBC heavyweight title.
Berbick’s self-designation as the Fighting Preacher bemused people; his occasional non sequiturs bewildered them.
Trevor Berbick (August 1, 1954 – October 28, 2006) was a Jamaican Canadian professional boxer. He won the WBC heavyweight title in 1986 by defeating Pinklon Thomas, and lost it in his first defence to a then 20-year-old Mike Tyson. Berbick was the last man to fight Muhammad Ali, defeating him in 1981.
It was only Ali’s fifth loss in more than two decades as a professional, during which there had been huge changes in society and sport. In that time, Ali had become “The Greatest”; today he is still arguably the most notable icon in sporting history.
Ali’s words in the post-fight interview years ago seem haunting now. “Father Time has finally caught up with me and I’m gonna retire. And I don’t think I’m gonna wake up next week and change my mind. I came out all right for an old man. We all lose sometimes. We all grow old.”
Berbick – was murdered in October – marked two eras in the heavyweight division as a boxer; he was the fighter who ended Ali’s career, and the incumbent champion from whom Mike Tyson muscled the world heavyweight title just over 20 years ago.
Berbick never got over his loss to Tyson, and spoke of it for the rest of his life, insisting that he was cheated out of a win. He eventually gained notoriety as a boxer who now fought outside the ring.
Despite Berbick’s troubles, he began to mentor a younger generation of boxers in his home country. He hoped to be an example and inspiration, not simply the boxer who fought the champion.
Since Ali’s retirement after a loss to Trevor Berbick in 1981 the sport of boxing has seen a slow decline of popularity from a mainstream sport that once competed with only baseball for fans to the marginalized sport it has become today. Superstars still graced the sport, millions of dollars were made and lost, but the allure boxing once had with the public seemed to slowly lose its luster over the following years.
Still, if you were a fan of the sport and a collector there was still plenty to choose from. Popular fighters among collectors from the era of Ali until now include Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, Salvador Sanchez, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya,Bruce Scott Nickname(s) Lionheart, Alex Stewart Nickname(s) The Destroyer, Tony Laing, Nicholas Walters, ,George Leslie Grant and others. Bunny Sterling (born 4 April 1948) became the first immigrant to win a British title.
Trevor Berbick had dazzled the international world of boxing with his prowess as a professional boxer par excellence when he beat Pinklon Thomas and lifted the WBC title in the early 1980s.
Then, when he defeated the legendary Muhammed Ali in 1981 in a unanimous decision in The Bahamas, his sports fans in Jamaica and internationally were jumping over the moon with sheer joy.
However, Berbick was to experience a dramatic change in his boxing fortunes when, four years later, he lost the title to the then 20-year-old Mike ‘Iron Mike’ Tyson, who would become the youngest heavyweight boxing champion in the world.
That fact never dulled the pride and satisfaction most Jamaican boxing fans experienced, just to know that another one of us had been there — at the top of his game — so to speak, and was still among us. He was regarded as an icon.