Rise to stardom
Mike Tyson's first nationally televised bout took place on February 16, 1986, at Houston Field House in Troy, New York, against journeyman heavyweight Jesse Ferguson, and was carried by ABC Sports. Tyson knocked down Ferguson with an uppercut in the fifth round that broke Ferguson's nose. During the sixth round, Ferguson began to hold and clinch Tyson in an apparent attempt to avoid further punishment. After admonishing Ferguson several times to obey his commands to box, the referee finally stopped the fight near the middle of the sixth round. The fight was initially ruled a win for Tyson by disqualification (DQ) of his opponent. The ruling was "adjusted" to win by technical knockout (TKO) after Tyson's corner protested that a DQ win would end Tyson's string of knockout victories, and that a knockout would have been the inevitable result.
In July, after recording six more knockout victories, Tyson fought former world title challenger Marvis Frazier in Glens Falls, New York, on another ABC Sports broadcast. Tyson won easily, charging at Frazier at the opening bell and hitting him with an uppercut that knocked Frazier unconscious thirty seconds into the fight.
On November 22, 1986, Mike Tyson was given his first title fight against Trevor Berbick for the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship. Tyson won the title by TKO in the second round, and at the age of 20 years and 4 months became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. He added the WBA and IBF titles after defeating James Smith and Tony Tucker in 1987. Tyson's dominant performance brought many accolades. Donald Saunders wrote: "The noble and manly art of boxing can a least cease worrying about its immediate future, now that it has discovered a heavyweight champion fit to stand alongside Dempsey, Tunney, Louis, Marciano, and Ali.
Tyson intimidated fighters with his strength, combined with outstanding hand speed, accuracy, coordination and timing. Tyson also possessed notable defensive abilities, holding his hands high in the peek-a-boo style taught by his mentor Cus D'Amato to slip under and weave around his opponent's punches while timing his own. Tyson's explosive punching technique was due in large part to crouching immediately prior to throwing a hook or and uppercut: this allowed the 'spring' of his legs to add power to the punch. Among his signature moves was a right hook to his opponent's body followed by a right uppercut to his opponent's chin. Lorenzo Boyd, Jesse Ferguson and Jose Ribalta were each knocked down by this combination.
Expectations for Tyson were extremely high, and he was the favorite to win the heavyweight unification series, a tournament designed to establish an undisputed heavyweight champion. Tyson defended his title against James Smith on March 7, 1987, in Las Vegas, Nevada. He won by unanimous decision and added Smith's World Boxing Association (WBA) title to his existing belt. "Tyson-mania" in the media was becoming rampant. He beat Pinklon Thomas in May by TKO in the sixth round. On August 1 he took the International Boxing Federation (IBF) title from Tony Tucker in a twelve round unanimous decision 119-111, 118-113, and 116-112. He became the first heavyweight to own all three major belts, WBA, WBC, and IBF, at the same time. Another fight, in October of that year ended with a victory for Tyson over 1984 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Tyrell Biggs by TKO in the seventh round.
During this time, Tyson came to the attention of gaming company Nintendo. After witnessing one of Tyson's fights, Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa was impressed by the fighter's "power and skill", prompting him to suggest Tyson be included in the upcoming Nintendo entertainment System port of the Punch Out!! arcade game. In 1987, Nintendo released mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, which was well received and sold more than a million copies.
Tyson had three fights in 1988. He faced Larry Holmes on January 22, 1988, and defeated the legendary former champion by KO in the fourth round.