JAMES TILLIS is not a name that rolls of the tongue for many boxing fans – but he is someone that Mike Tyson certainly remembers.
However, the now 65-year-old American is adamant that the Baddest Man on the Planet was not the hardest puncher he took on.
The former heavyweight boxer amassed a 20-0 record to land a WBA title shot against Mike Weaver in 1981, a bout he lost on points.
In an attempt to bounce back and get back into championship contention, Tillis took on the late Earnie Shavers.
Shavers was 37 at the time but he still possessed incredible punching power – something Tillis felt first hand in round nine as he was floored.
Despite that, he managed to climb off the canvas to win a ten-round unanimous decision.
Unfortunately, he was unable to continue that progress and suffered three defeats in 1982 and 1983 to fall out of the title picture.
He then lost five out of six between 1984 and 1986 – the last of which came against a then 19-year-old Tyson.
Iron Mike was a wrecking machine at the time and had recorded 19-straight knockouts as he surged towards superstardom.
But the stubborn Tillis managed to stand firm and go the distance, surviving a fourth round knockdown, where he lost via a unanimous decision.
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Even though he has faced all of the big guns, Tillis is in absolutely no doubt who possessed the hardest punch.
Speaking previously to Boxing News 24/7, he said: “People ask me about Tyson and Shavers – let me tell you, there’s no comparison. None whatsoever.
“Shavers, he hit so hard he could turn horse p*** into gasoline. He hit so hard he could bring back tomorrow.
“Tyson hit like a sissy in comparison.”
Tillis added: “I beat Shavers, and I know I beat Tyson. I wanted a rematch with Tyson real bad, but Shavers? No way.
“When he hit me and knocked me down, I saw pink mice and rats smoking cigarettes.
“That fight was the toughest 30 minutes of my life. The Acorn was one bad dude, let me tell you.”