Mike Weaver vs John Tate – Highlights (Classic One Punch KNOCKOUT)


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March 31st, 1980. 39 years ago, “Big” John Tate took on hard hitting Mike Weaver aka “Hercules” in the 1st defense of his WBA Heavyweight Championship that he won via UD15 over Gerrie Coetzee in Gauteng, South Africa.

Prefight records; Weaver 21(14)-9, Tate, 20(15)-0.

Entering the fight, the 2-1 betting favorite Tate had the following advantages over the challenger; 3½ years younger, 3” taller and 24½ pounds heavier. Additionally, the 28 year old Weaver had never gone 15 rounds thus many observers felt he might not have the stamina to go the full distance.

From the opening bell, Tate consistently outboxed Weaver using a jarring right cross behind an authoritative jab, often outworking the challenger on the ropes with effective combinations to the body and head, largely in control of 2/3 of the bout.

Before the 12th, the challenger was urged by his corner to rally as he was down on points and in apparent danger of blowing his 2nd world title opportunity.

Adhering to his corner’s advice, Weaver stepped up his efforts and managed to wobble Tate with a flush left hook in the 1st minute of the round, but the champion managed to hang on.

Towards the end of the 14th, he rocked the champion for the 2nd time with another hard left hook but once again could not finish what he started.

To make matters worse, he lost a point for repeated warnings for low blows on top of being clearly behind in the cards.

In the corner just before the bell sounded for the final round, Weaver’s manager Dan Manuel told him, “Go out there and knock him out. If you don’t, don’t come back.”

Sensing the urgency, the Hercules came out with a renewed sense of vigor and determination to pull off the upset. As for Big John, all he needed to do was stay on his feet for 3 more minutes and he would remained the WBA Heavyweight Champion.

However, he made a fatal mistake by electing to cruise instead of standing his ground which gave the challenger much needed momentum; Weaver rallied for a knockout from the beginning of the round while Tate constantly held on to survive till the final bell.

With less than a minute to go, Weaver pinned Tate on the ropes with 2 right hands to the body followed by a pulverizing left hook that sent Tate face first and spread eagle on the canvas. The champion laid unconscious as referee Nicasio L. Drake counted him out with only 45 seconds left in one of the most spectacular victories in the history of the sport!

By the time of the KO, Tate was ahead 138-133, 137-134 & 136-133 in the scorecards.

“Finally in the fifteenth round, my manager reminded me I was telling everyone I knew that I was going to knock Tate out. He told me I was running out of time and it was now or never so you better do it! I sat in my corner and recited the 23rd Psalm to myself and asked the Lord to give me the strength to knock him out. He gave me more than I needed,”
– Mike Weaver (in a 2016 interview with Ringside Report)

This remains one the greatest one punch knockouts as well as come-from-behind victories in the history of the heavyweight division despite being one of the least mentioned.

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