As Mike’s fame spread, so did the reports on his background and personal life. Mike fueled a flood of stories with his whirlwind romance and sudden marriage to actress Robin Givens on February 7, 1988. The following eight months were among the most turbulent in Mike’s life; divorce papers were filed on October 8, 1988.
In spite of a trying personal life, Mike continued his dominance in the ring. He reigned as the heavyweight champion for three years, with ten title defenses. Then, on February 10, 1990, Mike met lightly regarded James “Buster” Douglas, in Tokyo, Japan. Oddsmakers had refused to make odds on the fight because few people expected Douglas to last past the first round. Douglas, however, shocked the sports world with one of the most stunning upsets in boxing history.
Douglas controlled the fight until Mike knocked him down late in the eighth round, but Douglas came back strong, knocking out Mike in the tenth round. Undaunted, Mike was determined to regain his crown. Within one year of his defeat, Mike fought twice more, winning both bouts by knockouts. Before Mike could get a rematch, Douglas lost the title in a bout with Evander Holyfield in October, 1990.
In the months that followed, many people in the boxing world predicted that Mike would soon regain the heavyweight crown. His fearsome power and aggressive attitude restored him as a top contender. Mike won a twelfth-round unanimous decision over Donovan “Razor” Ruddock on June 28, 1990.
Then, Mike was accused of raping a contestant in the Miss Black America Pageant in an Indianapolis, Indiana, hotel room on the morning of July 19, 1991. In the aftermath, he became the target of two civil lawsuits alleging sexual harassment. Mike was formally indicted by a Marion County, Indiana, grand jury on October 10, 1991, and charged with rape.
In the interim, a world championship match with Holyfield, scheduled for November 8, was postponed after Mike injured his ribs during a training session. On February 10, 1992, Mike was convicted and spent the next three years in prison. He was released on March 25, 1995, and was fighting again five months later. In 1996, he won the WBA heavyweight title after knocking out Frank Bruno in the third round. He added the WBC title in September of the same year when he destroyed Bruce Seldon with a knockout in the first round.
On November 9, 1996, Mike faced Holyfield, his first real challenge since returning to boxing. Mike’s considerable punching power and the intimidation that he inspired in his opponents were not enough to...