Mike Tyson has some meanness in him, but he displays it only when he needs to get a job done in the ring. On Saturday afternoon in the village of Glens Falls, N.Y., the job was to beat Marvis Frazier, son of Smokin' Joe. It took Tyson just 30 seconds, and it was done with a burst of pure violence rarely seen in this era of boxing pachyderms. That accomplished, Tyson hurried across the ring to Joe Frazier, a man who knows and respects a professional mean streak, and said anxiously, "Will you check him, please? I'm sorry it had to happen this way." Later, after the younger Frazier had recovered his footing, Tyson kissed him on the right cheek, about two inches from the chin he had almost crushed with two vicious uppercuts.
An hour earlier, as Tyson, who has just turned 20, dressed for his 25th pro fight, one would not have suspected that the unbeaten young man harbored such compassion. He ushered Jim Jacobs, his co-manager, into a small bathroom next to his dressing quarters and detailed his plan of destruction.
"To get away from the jab," Tyson said, snapping out his left, "Marvis bends forward at the waist. He doesn't bend his knees, he just bends forward." Tyson made a demonstration bow. "That's when I'm going to knock him out with the right uppercut." Jacobs pulled back as Tyson's fist shot up past his face.
Frazier came into the ring wearing pale pink and an air of confidence. In his only defeat in 17 pro fights, he was knocked out in November 1983 by Larry Holmes, then the WBC heavyweight champion, at 2:57 of the first round. But he was unawed by Tyson's reputation for quick knockouts. "Until now everybody who has fought Tyson has been scared of him," Frazier had said. "Well, I'm not scared. He's never fought anybody who is going to be rollin' and slippin' and testin' his body. He's good, but we'll find out just how good he really is."
Tyson, his compact 217-pound body oiled by sweat, followed Frazier into the ring. He came in without robe, or socks or smile. Just black trunks, black ankle-high shoes and the look of tense anticipation of a hungry Doberman who has suddenly happened upon 210� pounds of unguarded red meat.
Referee Joe Cortez motioned for both fighters to get ready. Left leg forward, Tyson was almost in a sprinter's crouch. Cortez glanced at him and then quickly spread both arms to keep the fighters in their corners while ABC television finished its prefight buildup before giving them the green light. That took 60 seconds. A few more ticks of the clock, and Tyson might not have been able to contain himself.
"I love fighting so much," he said later. "I just want to get out there and get my hands on the guy."
Under orders from his father, Frazier tried to box Tyson. "Joe's going to have him bobbin' and weavin'," said George Benton, who trained the younger Frazier until the former heavyweight champion took over the job himself shortly before the Holmes fight. "He does that, and Tyson's uppercut will kill him. You don't fool with a guy like Tyson. You have to throw a lot of punches, keep busy and keep boxing."
Tyson had won 22 of his 24 previous fights by knockout, most of them coming as the result of barrages of blows. In this, his sixth fight in the last 12 weeks, Tyson showed that he can be a sharpshooter as well. He chased Frazier into a neutral corner with three jabs and then fired a hard jab between Frazier's gloves to the forehead.
Frazier bent forward, straight into the crushing right uppercut Tyson had plotted. Stunned, Frazier ducked under a left hook and then came up into the force of a second right uppercut that drove him back against the ropes. Reaching out with his left hand, Tyson pulled down both of his victim's arms, giving him a clean target for a right cross.