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The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changed Their Lives Forever Paperback – Bargain Price, October 28, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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From Booklist

*Starred Review* In 1990, heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson was considered a force of nature and a journalist's dream story. Rescued from a life of crime and extreme poverty by legendary trainer Cus D'Amato, he had crushed—not just beaten—virtually every opponent placed in front of him on the way to the Heavyweight Championship. He had energized boxing as no one since Muhammad Ali. James "Buster" Douglas, on the other hand, was a half step above journeyman status. He was raised in a stable, two-parent home and even had some college on his resume. His father was a respected second-tier fighter in his day and had encouraged—rather than pushed—his athletically gifted son into boxing. Layden, an award-winning author who covered professional boxing during Tyson's best years, re-creates the aura surrounding the February 11, 1990, bout in Tokyo—a fight that many consider the greatest upset in boxing history. He interviewed Tyson and Douglas, their trainers, corner men, family members, broadcasters, and knowledgeable journalists. Most interestingly, he also examines each fighter's life since Douglas' upset. Tyson, of course, has been in ever-accelerating descent, but Douglas has endured much, too. Thomas Hauser is the dean of American boxing writers, but Layden has researched and written the most compelling and moving book on the sweet science we've seen in years. Lukowsky, Wes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Joe Layden’s meticulously researched study transports us from the Ali to the Tyson era….Layden is the first to take the full measure of the David in this David-and-Goliath storty…he offers a rich portrait of a soft-hearted former basketball standout who would secure the heavyweight crown only a few weeks after his mother died…the author manages to lay bare Tyson’s own ambivalence toward the blood sport that would make him one of the most recognizable people in the world….The Last Great Fight succeeds in provoking a sense of tense anticipation about an event that is firmly etched in the memory of every boxing fan. And Layden’s even-handed treatment of both the principals and the supporting cast provides a nuanced account of this epic moment.” –The New York Times Book Review

 

“Layden had full access to the main players, and his interviews with the affable, star-crossed underdog provide a compelling perspective on the ultimate coulda-been.” -ESPN The Magazine

 

“In prose that’s as sharp as an uppercut, Layden revisits the day Douglas handed Mike Tyson his first loss. A generation of young fans know Tyson as a novelty act and boxing as a niche sport. Layden traces both declines to that night in Tokyo.” –Sports Illustrated 

 

“Boxing fans will want to add The Last Great Fight to the vast collection on great books on the Sweet Science, from Hemingway to A.J. Liebling to Norman Mailer. Just file it at the end of the shelf; it’s the last book you’ll ever need.” –Los Angeles Times

 

“Compelling.” –The Boston Globe

 

"Prose as crisp as a Sugar Ray Robinson jab." –Denver Post

 

“Layden's account of the crucial fight is tremendous. He has the kind of instinctive understanding of boxing that is rare in British writers: if one had to think of a point of comparison then Hugh MacIlvanney and the late Ian Wooldridge spring to mind.” -- Telegraph (UK)

 

“[An] exhilarating and hard hitting account. Boxing fans will want to add The Last Great Fight to the vast collection of great books on the Sweet Science, from Hemingway to A.J. Liebling to Norman Mailer. Just file it at the end of the shelf; it’s the last book you’ll ever need.” –The Houston Chronicle

 

 “Layden has researched and written the most compelling and moving book on the sweet science we’ve seen in years.” –Booklist (starred review)

 

 “A deeply reported, psychologically complex and artfully crafted examination of one of the biggest upsets in boxing history….Layden writes with the soulful, big-hearted tone of a Richard Russo novel.” –Times Union (Albany, NY)

 

“Joe Layden’s The Last Great Fight tells you everything you need to know about James “Buster” Douglas’ monumental upset of Mike Tyson.” –The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

 

“Exceptional….Vivid detail….Besides getting interviews with Douglas and Tyson, Layden has interviewed everyone who had any role in the event.”—Nashville City Paper

 

“Joe Layden has talked to all the key figures involved and his account of the fight is compelling.” –The Independent (UK)

 

“Layden should have a Ph. D in street psychology. I challenge anyone even remotely interested in what makes both ordinary and extraordinary people tick to pick this book up and not have trouble putting it down. It grips you and grabs you, as it eloquently describes just how fickle to concept of fame and the consequence of obscurity can be. Not only will you find yourself rooting for Douglas, the quintessential underdog, but also for Tyson, who in his own tragic way is no less of an underdog….It will make you laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page. Most importantly, it will make you think…It was a great fight, not only for its historical significance, but also because of its unrelenting action. This book, however, is better than the fight. You can’t get a more starred review than that.” –www.thesweetscience.com

 

“A tremendously moving story about Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas…This book isn’t just about boxing, and the sad state it’s in today, but it’s actually about these two flawed individuals who made boxing history.” –The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY)

 

“Tell the truth. You missed the moment when Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson for the heavyweight championship of the world. The fight was in Tokyo and Iron Mike was going to destroy this unknown fatso, whack him out blah-blah….What did you know? So now you have a second chance. The all-time upset of boxing upsets is replayed here through the deft, sweet prose of Joe Layden; a ringside seat that shows not only the punches that were thrown but what was behind them. Don’t miss it this time. The book is better than the fight and the fight was a wonder.” –Leigh Montville, New York Times bestselling author of The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth and Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero

 

“With rich detail and robust prose, Joe Layden’s account of Tyson-Douglas doesn’t merely re-create the most unthinkable upset in boxing annals. It takes you into the corners, the locker rooms, the minds of the two protagonists, producing revelations that arrive in combinations and a story that packs a heavyweight punch.” –Wayne Coffey, author of the New York Times bestseller The Boys of Winter

 

"The Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas fight resulted in the most spectacular upset in boxing history, yet it was an epic that has almost been forgotten. In The Last Great Fight, Joe Layden restores the fight to its rightful place in sports legend and fills in the spaces that other historians have missed. This is the best boxing book in the last 25 years."
--Allen Barra, sports columnist, Wall Street Journal, and author of The Last Coach: A Life of Paul "Bear" Bryant.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312353316
  • ASIN: B0046LUGEE
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,982,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Chris Wilson on November 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
Some sporting events you can remember where you were when you first heard of them. James "Buster" Douglas' boxing knockout of Mike Tyson for the Heavyweight Championship is one of those events. Arguably one of the greatest upsets in sports history, this fight has taken on a unique historical aura over the years. Joe Layden's engrossing and tragic 2007 book "The Last Great Fight: The Extraordinary Tale of Two Men and How One Fight Changed Their Lives Forever" gives a superb account of this sporting epic.

I was waiting tables on the busy Saturday night this fight took place and was amazed at the cheers coming from the bar. I realized something more was going on than your typical Tyson KO. When the fight ended, the message that Tyson had been defeated spread through the restaurant like wildfire. Luckily, I taped the fight, and went home that night to watch the bout over and over again trying to understand what my eyes could not believe. Over the years, I have re-watched this fight many times and am amazed by the eerie atmosphere of the broadcast. The fight took place in Japan, playing out before an oddly reserved crowd. The HBO announcers, puzzled and shocked, were equally confused. Tyson had such an incredibly invincible reputation that no one could believe what they were seeing.

Layden's book accurately reveals the numerous events leading up to this fight that played a crucial role in the outcome. Douglas, son of a former middleweight contender, struggled from the constant expectations of his demanding father. When his dad was removed from the training team, Douglas seemed to thrive. In addition, the death of Douglas' mother just days before the fight seemed to create a sense of destiny. He lost the fear that seemed to hold him back during his career.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not a fan of boxing, but I do love a good story, and this book delivers, big time. The author crafts this tale of two men using the historic 1990 championship fight between Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas as not only the pivotal point in their lives, but also, as the title suggests, as the end of boxing in popular consciousness. The book is remarkably structured, centering around the fight, while deftly exploring the poignant past and present of the two main combatants. I could not put it down. The research is astonishing, and the author -- while a very fine writer -- does what all great storytellers do: He has the sense to get out of the way and let the incredible tale unfold, page by page. Oddly, by the end I found myself sympathic to Tyson -- a man I don't admire; as for Douglas, he shines forth as a genuinely good guy in a tawdry environment. This is a great, swift read, full of humanity and drama and insight. . Highly, highly recommended for boxing fans and for others who, like me, simply love a rich, engrossing story.
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Format: Hardcover
In his book THE LAST GREAT FIGHT, author Joe Layden argues that despite how good the 1990 heavyweight championship Mike Tyson versus James "Buster" Douglas fight was, ultimately neither man would prove he wanted the title that badly. Layden says even though Tyson fought hard in the loss to Douglas, Iron Mike had not prepared. As for Douglas, the author says the new champion seemed to have spent all his desire to win by knocking out Tyson.

Discussing Mike Tyson's meteoric rise to the top, THE LAST GREAT FIGHT says that's where many bitter episodes stunk up what should have been the sweet smell of success for the youngest heavyweight boxing champion in history. As Tyson climbed into the ring to fight that February 1990 day, the loneliness of owning the title had left him with little will to keep it.

James Buster Douglas, says THE LAST GREAT FIGHT, could be great when he wanted to be, but wanting it was fleeting. It was as if Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson just to prove he could rather than for the spoils the world's greatest sports title - Heavyweight Champion - would bring.

THE LAST GREAT FIGHT details many of the Mike Tyson stories that made him infamous. But author Joe Layden deserves credit for not leaving it at that, as he includes several remarkable observations that make Tyson more human and less a 24/7 monster.

James Buster Douglas? Although he is the man who knocked out Mike Tyson, how many people outside of hardcore sports fans would recognize his face or name all these years later? Here's hoping THE LAST GREAT FIGHT raises public awareness of a humble individual who for at least one day seemed to step outside of himself to accomplish the incredible.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I first bought this book I thought it would mostly center around events just before, during, and right after the Tyson/Douglas fight but in actuality this book covers a deep swath of both Mike Tyson and Buster Douglas's life starting at an early age leading up to how they got into the boxing game and all the players along the way(the legit trainers/the hangers on/the promoters/etc.) that had influence on both their lives and boxing careers. The chapters alternated between talking each fighter. Overall this is a good book not only about the Tyson/Douglas fight itself but also about the life and career of these two fighters.
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