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Tale of the tape: Douglas clearly a Tysonbuster

Several of us here actually enjoy the sport of boxing, but since it's not a very good idea to openly admit that these days, we decided it'd be best to think of something else. "In the interest of science," we said, "and as part of our never-ending pursuit of The Truth, we have procured a videotape of the Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas heavyweight fight and will watch it on the VCR over in the features section of the newspaper."

This caused some distress to the people in that department, several of whom had thought boxing had something to do with one's ability to correctly place a thoughtful gift in its proper container.

By the second round, we had the room to ourselves.

After replaying the final three rounds several times, certain things became evident, besides the fact that a boxing match played at fast-forward is pretty darn funny.

Anyway, here's what we saw.

The counts: We timed both knockdowns several times. When Douglas went down in the eighth round, a total of 13 seconds elapsed from the time he hit the canvas until the time he got to his feet. The tape shows that referee Octavio Meyran started the count after Douglas had been down for two seconds. No problem with that. Meyran couldn't have started much sooner.

But he could've counted quicker. He acknowledged he was three seconds too late.

However, the most telling moment in the tape came just after Douglas fell. If Meyran had looked over his right shoulder, he would've seen the white gloves of the Japanese official responsible for counting during the knockdowns.

The official was at five when Meyran was at three. Part of the problem might have been that Meyran twice looked around to make sure Tyson had gone to a neutral corner.

But the tape also shows that Douglas did exactly what he should've done in that situation: take instructions from the referee. It's the referee's job to watch the official counting the knockdown. Douglas waited until Meyran got to eight and he stood up.

This raises the question of whether Douglas should be penalized for a mistake made by the referee.

"I followed the count," Douglas said later. "I picked up the count immediately."

It should be noted that Meyran, the referee for Roberto Duran's no

mas fight, was even-handed in his abuse of time. When Douglas knocked Tyson down in the 10th round, 14 seconds went by before Meyran reached 10 and counted Tyson out.

The champ: Tyson was clearly orbiting the planet Saturday night, and not from Douglas' punches. He was preoccupied with something - his inability to put Douglas away, advice from his bungling cornermen, recent reports that the Federal Reserve Board is contemplating lowering the prime lending rate.

Other people saw it too. "When Tyson walked into the ring, I could see something was wrong," said veteran trainer Lou Duva. "He had no life. He didn't have that drive."

Besides being uninterested and out of shape, Tyson reverted to his street-brawling days and tried to club Douglas into submission. That strategy had no chance against a ring veteran like Douglas. Perhaps most important, Tyson never adjusted to Douglas. He never realized what he was doing was wrong, and that he had to try something else.

To the end, Tyson tried to fight Douglas. He never tried to box him.

The challenger: Buster Douglas fought a near-perfect fight. He knew Tyson would come charging at him and throw bombs, so he got off first with a left jab or a series of combinations that kept Tyson on the defensive. Then Douglas moved in and smothered the champ to further prevent him from counterattacking.

Douglas wasn't the first challenger to try that tactic, but he was the first to make it work. That's because he was in superb condition and he can obviously take a punch. Near the end of the ninth round, Tyson caught Douglas flush on the chin with a terrifying uppercut.

Douglas hung on, cleared his head, and then nearly floored the champ.

Another thing. Douglas used his shoulders, his arms, his head and his elbows - he did everything but hit Tyson with his shoe.

The trouble is, now a silly little man named Sulaiman, the head of the World Boxing Council who admits he's a close friend of Tyson's promoter/adviser, Don King, is trying to take it all away. That's truly a shame. But anyone who saw the fight knows what happened.

Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson in every way imaginable.