- November 9 down the years
Tyson tamed by Holyfield
In boxing, there were four world title fights in two rings on the same day.
In Las Vegas, Britain's Henry Akinwande retained his WBO heavyweight title by stopping Aleksander Zolkin of Russia in the 10th round after knocking him down in the fourth. But it was a bizarre time and place to hold this ersatz sideshow: on the undercard of the real title fight.
Mike Tyson had rebuilt his career after his shock defeat by Buster Douglas six years earlier ( February 11) and the jail sentence which kept him out for four years. He won the WBC title from Frank Bruno ( March 16) and the WBA belt from Bruce Seldon, and was heavy favourite to keep the latter tonight. Two years earlier, Evander Holyfield had lost the same title to the ordinary Michael Moorer in a battle of blown-up cruiserweights. He was 34 by now and surely just a sacrificial lamb. But it was time to stop underestimating our Evander. He'd regained the WBA belt from the fearsome Riddick Bowe ( November 6, 1993), who'd mugged him for all three major titles ( November 13, 1992). And Tyson, as it turned out, was never quite the same after the Douglas fight. Within minutes, the 15-1 odds against Holyfield were looking plain daft. His plan of campaign was simple and brave. When Tyson set himself to throw a big punch, Holyfield threw one instead. Basically, he bullied the bully. Tyson went down in the sixth round and got up with a cut over his eye. By the time the fight was stopped in the 11th, he was a wreck. It was the last time he won a title fight - though he whispered in Holyfield's ear during the rematch ( June 28).
Over in Manchester, Naseem Hamed kept his WBO featherweight title by stopping the previously unbeaten but anonymous Argentinian Remigio Molina in the second round.
On the same bill, Irishman Steve Collins retained the WBO super-middleweight title when Nigel Benn, once a crowd-pleasing puncher, retired against him for the second time. This time Benn lasted six rounds, two more than in July - but the crowd weren't pleased, booing him out of the ring. He never got back in one, while Collins retired after two more successful defences.
At this rugby union World Cup, England had survived a scare against a Samoan team with limited resources. Now they did the same against a Wales side who took great confidence from nearly beating the All Blacks. They played another great half here in Brisbane, while England had their worst of the tournament, keeping the ball in a narrow corridor and making endless mistakes. In complete contrast, Wales attacked on a broad front and often from deep. Their opening try came from a classic counter-attack. Livewire little Shane Williams ran from his own 22, and when the ball came back to him he passed infield to Stephen Jones. Then Colin Charvis was driven over from a lineout, and Wales led 10-3 at half-time. The favourites had a couple of crumbs of comfort. They couldn't play that badly again - and coach Clive Woodward earned his corn by bringing on Mike Catt to support Jonny Wilkinson, who had a mare before half-time. Three minutes in, Jason Robinson finally found space for one of his Williams-type runs, slashing past three tacklers and outpacing two more before sending Will Greenwood in. It was England's only try of the match, but they didn't need any more. Once Wales went behind, they began giving away penalties in their desperation to recover the ball - and Wilkinson kicked five in a row to go with one in the first half. England allowed Wales back in with another try, but Wilkinson made the final score 28-17 with a last-minute drop goal. Grit if nothing else from England, but surely they'd need more than that in their semi-final against France...
...who'd looked like world beaters earlier in the day. They simply murdered Ireland in Melbourne. Their forwards dominated every phase, their tackling was ferocious, especially from flanker Serge Betsen, and their backs were fast and dynamic - all conducted by young Frédéric Michalak at fly-half, who'd scored 78 points in the three matches before this and added another 23 today. His high cross-kick led to the opening try after just three minutes, and there were two others before half-time, when France led 27-0. They stretched that to an embarrassing 37-0 within five minutes of the second half before allowing Ireland some crumbs. Quite a lot of crumbs: the final score was 43-21 and Ireland scored three tries, two of them by Brian O'Driscoll. But it wasn't the way inspirational hooker Keith Wood would have wanted to end his international career. Or what England wanted to see from their next opponents ( November 16).
The same day a year earlier was a momentous one for two rugby icons. Jonah Lomu scored his seventh and eighth tries against England - but they were his last for New Zealand, and for once he was overshadowed as Jonny Wilkinson scored in all four ways. Wilko's 21 points were just enough to win a Twickenham thriller. After a close first half, England scored two tries in the first eight minutes of the second. First Wilkinson shaped to drop a goal but instead caught his own kick over the defence. Then big Ben Cohen powered in from 50 yards. England led 31-14 and seemed home and clear. But Lomu smashed his way through to score, and replacement scrum-half Danny Lee brought the All Blacks up to 31-28. Cohen preserved the win with a try-saving tackle on Ben Blair after Doug Howlett made another supersonic run. It was the second time Wilkinson scored in all four ways in an international match. In one of his comebacks, he became the only player to do it three times ( February 3, 2007). Lomu played in the next two internationals on the tour, but they were his last. A rare kidney problem led to a transplant and ended his career at the top level when he was 27. He scored 37 tries in internationals.
In basketball, Micheal Williams set an NBA record with his 97th successful free throw in a row, a sequence which began in March.
Less than two months after an operation on a herniated disc, legendary quarterback Joe Montana threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns in the San Francisco 49ers' 43-17 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Montana was the only player to be voted MVP in three Super Bowls ( January 28, 1990).
The night Larry Holmes nearly lost his world title to a Bonecrusher. James Smith earned his shot at Holmes's IBF heavyweight title by ending Frank Bruno's unbeaten pro record. His nickname spoke for itself, and Holmes had no argument after the eighth round, when he nearly went down twice after being cut in the fifth. Holmes had just turned 35 and hadn't fought since his speedy demolition of Joe Frazier's son a year earlier ( November 25). Understandably sluggish, he was also nursing a thumb broken in training three months earlier. So he had to take his lumps tonight. But he still controlled most of the fight, and when he cut the Bonecrusher's eye in the 11th round, it was all over. Smith went on to take the WBA title in less than three minutes ( December 12, 1986). Holmes had now won all 46 of his pro fights and looked set to equal Rocky Marciano's record the following year ( September 21).
Flying wing Daisuke Ohata scored three tries on his international debut. In an Asian Championship match in Taipei, he helped Japan win 41-25 after South Korea led 12-11 at half-time. Ohata also scored three tries in his last international, adding to his world record ( November 25).
The first woman to cycle 40 kilometres in an hour. The last eight men's world records had been set in Milan, with a ninth to follow later this month. So had the last two among the women, both in September of this year. Today Elsie Jacobs of Luxembourg made it three. Her 41,347 metres shattered the 39,718 set by Britain's Millie Robinson and lasted as a world record until 1972, when cyclists began taking advantage of the thin air in Mexico City.