MIKE TYSON was only the FOURTH hardest hitter Frank Bruno was every punched by – with a convicted murderer top of the list.
The 59-year-old heavyweight hero, who won the WBC world title in an iconic fourth attempt, was twice stopped on his feet against the Baddest Man on the Planet.
But Tyson was only 22 when the pair first met in 1989 and, by the time they rematched in 1996, had served a three-year prison term.
So Bruno lists Floyd ‘Jumbo’ Cummings, James ‘Bonecrusher’ Smith and Tim ‘Terrible’ Witherspoon as the three giants who all hit harder than the boxing superstar who burned out too early.
When asked if Tyson’s infamous hooks and uppercuts were the hardest shots he ever shipped, the national treasure told SunSport: “In the first fight with Tyson, I was knocked down in the first round but that was down to nerves.
“When I was stopped in the fifth, I could have taken a knee and maybe carried on but I never wanted to do that.
“I don’t think Mike Tyson was the hardest single puncher I was ever hit by.
“Floyd ‘Jumbo’ Cummings hit me very hard, Witherspoon and Smith too. No disrespect to Mike but they were bigger full-grown men.
“They all hit a bit differently but they all hurt – a lot.
“Jumbo Cummings was the hardest one because he caught me round the temple and I didn’t know if I was flying on concorde or second class on a train.”
Bruno retired Cummings with a 1983 KO but only after the heavy-handed American – who only turned pro aged 29 after serving 12 years for MURDER – almost stunned him with a first-round right hand.
Right on the bell, Cummings landed and Bruno’s body went into spasm, hands dropping to his waist and legs stiffening into a stumble of a dance.
Cummings had only won one of his previous sevens fights but looked to have beaten the UK’s hottest prospect until he managed to rally and win in the seventh.
Bruno got to 20-0 and then invited Bonecrusher Smith over from America – Smith had suffered an embarrassing KO defeat on his debut but resurrected his career.
In the final three minutes of a ten-rounder, 13-1 Smith landed a left hook that again stunned Bruno and he was swiftly floored and counted out.
The shock Wembley Arena upset meant Smith faced ring legend Larry Holmes for the IBF world title six months later, snatching the shot from gutted Bruno.
The Wandsworth warrior then put seven consecutive wins together, including the European title, and got a crack at the WBA belt against Witherspoon and again he left the heartbreak agonisingly late.
‘Terrible Tim’ was simply too good that 1986 night and, while ahead on all three cards despite being the away fighter, Witherspoon detonated a lopping right hand in the eleventh that collapsed Bruno into the floor.
Thankfully for the too-brave-for-his-own-good ace, trainer Terry Lawless threw the towel in and saved Bruno for another day that would eventually come against Oliver McCall in 1995 when he clinched the green and gold belt.
Tyson snatched that hard-earned belt off of Bruno just six months later but he selflessly only went into the battle to make money to provide for his young family.
Bruno v Tyson is available on Sky Documentaries and NOW TV from tomorrow, Friday 26th February at 21:00