8CN’s Darren Barcomb caught up with retired heavyweight Jose “El Nino” Ribalta, who discussed his controversial 10th round TKO to Mike Tyson back on August 17th, 1986. Ribalta still feels the sting of what he viewed as an early stoppage and gives a little insight on what it’s like to go ten rounds with “Iron” Mike.
Ribalta, now 49 years old, retired in 1999 with a record of 38-17-1 with 27 jaw crushing KO’s but not before facing such big names as James Smith, Tim Witherspoon, Frank Bruno, Michael Dokes, Larry Holmes, Tony Tubbs, Joe Hipp, Bruce Seldon, Axel Schulz, Larry Donald, Razor Ruddock, Chris Byrd, and Vitali Klitschko.
Read below for his recollection of the Tyson fight, who was the hardest hitter he ever faced, and his views on the current heavyweight division:
Barcomb: Looking back at your career, if you could have one “do-over” on a fight, would it be the Tyson bout? Why so?
Ribalta: It would have been the Tyson fight because I never was afraid of Tyson. I was planning on hitting Tyson with my elbow in the fight, so he could see blood coming from him. Being a young fighter, his fight plan would have changed once he saw the blood coming from him.
Barcomb: So you were planning on a little "dirty boxing" with the elbow. Why didn’t you go through with it?
Ribalta: My trainer said “just go for the gusto” in the tenth round, but I got dropped and I got up very quick. Then they said that the fight was stopped.
Barcomb: So you believe it was an early stoppage. Where do you think you stood on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage?
Ribalta: Well I thought I won at least 3 to four rounds, but I knew I could not win a decision, so then my plan was to hit him with an elbow, because he had never experienced being cut in a fight.
Barcomb: Looking back at all the big names you ever faced, who was the hardest hitter? Was it Tyson or someone else?
Ribalta: James Bone Crusher Smith. Larry Holmes’ jab was also powerful, but I will have to go with Bone Crusher.
Barcomb: What takes up your time now? Are you still involved in Boxing?
Ribalta: Well, right now I am working with Autistic adults, but I am getting ready to get back in to boxing again.
Barcomb: What’s your opinion on the current heavyweight division?
Ribalta: It sucks
Barcomb: Looking at the "top heavyweights" out there right now, how do you think they would have fared in the 80's and 90's?
Ribalta: They would not have been able to compete, because even when I boxed one of the Klitschko’ s (Vitali), I told them the day before the fight that I had a fever. And they told me that too many tickets were sold, and the show must go on. So, I boxed with a fever and the doctor knew; it showed.