There is something about the home of Miss America that brings out the best in Mike Tyson - or the worst if you happen to be his opponent.
Iron Mike smashed Alex Stewart into defeat at 2:27 of the first round Saturday night at the Convention Center, meaning that his last three appearances in the famed arena have totaled 5 minutes, 31 seconds.In his two previous appearances, both as heavyweight champion, he knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds and Carl "The Truth" Williams in 93 seconds.
"I knew he was a dangerous fighter once he gets warmed up and I wanted to get him out of there as fast as I could," said Tyson, who simply looked awesome.
It looked like Stewart might be dispatched faster than you can say Mike Tyson.
Tyson hit him with two right hands and the second one, high on the head, dropped Stewart with the fight only eight seconds old.
When Stewart, a highly ranked heavyweight contender who had given now-champion Evander Holyfield a tough match before being stopped in eight rounds in 1989, entered the ring, his 5-year-old daughter, Tennille, stood at the bottom of his corner, cheering and waving paper pompoms for her daddy.
She was led away from ringside crying because she didn't want to go. Fortunately, she left before Tyson overwhelmed her father.
Stewart got up from the first knockdown at five and took the mandatory eight-count. He then tried to jab and move but simply could not hold off the former heavyweight champion who in no way resembled the man who lost the title on a 10th-round knockout to James "Buster" Douglas in February.
"I just wanted to explode on him," said Tyson, who weighed 217 3/4 pounds and was in superb condition. "I was hungry. I hit anybody and they will fall. I rushed a little too much."
After the first knockdown, Tyson charged after Stewart, winging punches. After missing a wild right at 50 seconds, he fell flat on his stomach. He got up and resumed the attack, putting Stewart down in a neutral corner with a right to the jaw with just 65 seconds gone. Stewart got up at eight, but obviously was hurt.
"I knew he was coming, I just didn't want to run around," Stewart said.
"I knew he was tough," Tyson said. "But I knew he wasn't going to keep getting up."
Tyson sent Stewart down a third time with a crashing left hook to the head. Referee Frank Cappuccino began counting, but the fight was over when Stewart hit the floor because the three-knockdown rule was in effect.
"I'll fight anybody," Tyson said, and it's doubtful if many people in the crowd of 17,211 left the Convention Center thinking Tyson can't beat anybody.
"I know I'm not going to fight Holyfield now," Tyson said.
Holyfield, who became champion when he knocked out Douglas in the third round Oct. 25, will defend the title against 42-year-old George Foreman, champion in 1973-74, on April 19, 1991 at the Convention Center. The International Boxing Federation and the World Boxing Association are sanctioning the fight on the condition the winner fight Tyson. An arbitrator will be named to decide whether the World Boxing Council must sanction the fight or strip Holyfield for failing to make his first defense against Tyson, as directed by the WBC.
Asked who he thought would win between between Tyson and Holyfield, Stewart said, "I don't know. It depends on who catches who first."
When the fight ended, promoter Don King charged into the ring screaming, "We're back, we're back, watch our smoke now."
The 24-year-old Tyson, who made $2.5 million, now has a 39-1 record with 34 knockouts. It was his second straight first-round knockout since his shocking loss to Douglas. He knocked out Henry Tillman at 2:47 of the first round in June at Las Vegas.
The 26-year-old Stewart, born in London and living in Brooklyn, N.Y., is 26-2 with 26 knockouts. He made $375,000.
The sensational victory by Tyson, ranked No. 1 in the world by the WBC, WBA and IBF, followed a first-round knockout by Donovan "Razor" Ruddock of Canada, ranked No. 2 by all three organizations, over badly overmatched Mike Rouse.
In a title bout on the card, Julio Cesar Chavez of Mexico boosted his record to 73-0 with 60 knockouts by knocking out Ahn Kyung-Duk of South Korea at 2:14 of the third round in defense of the WBC and IBF junior welterweight titles.