’24 years later’.

It was then that former heavyweight champions and rivals Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno came face to face.

“I’m here for you baby,” said Tyson, greeting Bruno at the front door of a plush Miami property while filming the new Bruno-Tyson film for Sky Documentaries.

Throughout the next quarter of an hour, they talk, they sit, they reflect and they walk. It’s magic, but to get to why it’s magical you need to go back to the start and that’s where the documentary begins.


In the early 1980s Tyson and Bruno were on destructive paths. Bruno was saved by boxing, Tyson by an old fight trainer, Cus D’Amato. Their subsequent fortunes changed and the collision course begins with Tyson filmed in Catskill in 1984 at D’Amato’s home.

But as the film progresses their roles are fixed firmly in place as polar opposites; Bruno is cast as the family man and Tyson is “an animal who likes to hurt people.”

It’s all very familiar as it builds to the first bout between them and in doing the usual background rap-sheet stuff on Tyson it includes the Lennox Lewis press conference brawl in 2002, some 13 years later. 

“I would have reigned supreme if it wasn’t for Iron Mike Tyson,” Bruno said early on in the film, which might cause Evander Holyfield, Lewis and a few others some sleepless nights.

Anyway, Bruno and Tyson trained in Catskill together in the early 1980s, there’s media footage of Tyson and Bruno together in London as ambitious, world-class heavyweights and the research tracks their entwined paths, including Tyson doing color commentary on Bruno’s fight with James Tillis from ringside with the late Harry Carpenter. 

There’s an inevitability about where it’s all heading.

Tyson-Bruno I was initially going to be held at Wembley Stadium but as Tyson began to implode – and this is where ex-wife Robin Givens is introduced to the viewer – the October London fight was eventually moved to Vegas following several more delays. Bruno had already been away from his family in camp for four months.

The Sun’s Colin Hart, used as a talking head in the show (though none of the talking heads are ever actually visible) said Bruno suffered from home sickness as he started to prepare in Sin City, something that became apparent when the big Londoner – on a live link from Vegas on the Wogan show – was instantly brought to tears when the presenter brought Bruno’s children on stage to see their dad.

Then it’s to the 1989 fight.

Bruno was down early but came back to shock Tyson with a big left hook. There were signs that Tyson was only human but by round five Bruno was spent, Tyson hacked away with hooks and uppercuts and bludgeoned Frank to defeat. 

However, the documentary charts how Bruno’s celebrity rocketed further still as the nation fell deeper in love with him after his gallant showing.

Bruno is seen meeting with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street, there are snapshots of him on all of the major network TV shows of the day, from Michael Barrymore to Noel Edmonds to The Word, as he made more money from performing on stage in pantomimes and in commercials.


The film rewinds here, though, to talk about the passing of the legendary D’Amato in ’86 as it retells the story of Tyson, the youngest heavyweight champion in history coming unglued. 

There’s a criss-cross of uncertainty about both of their futures as Tyson was jailed in Indianapolis while Bruno’s livelihood was threatened in a different way as eye problems resurfaced.

Bruno’s contentious domestic feud with Lennox Lewis gets some quality air-time here, with Lewis used as a talking head and remembering how he taunted him for, among other things, being a “coconut” and “an Uncle Tom”.

It presented the vibe that Frank was a sell-out, that Bruno was a black man who tried to appease and appeal to white audiences.

Bruno still harbors resentment to those aspersions to this day. 


Tyson comes out of prison and Bruno wins the WBC title against Oliver McCall and you can see where it’s going again. Boxing people, know, of course.

Bruno celebrates with an open-top bus parade through London and the narrative is that he’s achieved so much in spite of setbacks and defeats. But after a brief six-month reign Bruno-Tyson II, in 1996, was on and Frank was going back out to Las Vegas.

Tyson loomed large, too large. Bruno couldn’t resist the chance to set things right and he couldn’t resist the millions it would bring.

Retirement was an option. His eyesight was in jeopardy and talking heads including three-weight world champion Duke McKenzie and broadcaster Paul Dempsey felt Frank should have quit while he was ahead.

Others involved in filming the documentary, by the way, include former Tyson coach Teddy Atlas, Bruno’s agent Davie Davies, boxing newspaperman Colin Hart and former Tyson conqueror Buster Douglas, among others.

Bruno is stopped in the third, this time, and retired.


The highlights of the documentary come in the last 15 minutes of the 100 minutes the show lasts and they are made up of the fighters as they are today.

Both talk to camera, about their pasts and their struggles, but it’s their meeting that triggers the nostalgic emotions.

The whole impetus of the film changes from historical clippings to Bruno travelling to meet Tyson, with Frank telling viewers how his former trainer George Francis warned him how difficult life after boxing would be. Then the film covers Bruno suffering with depression and ultimately being medically hospitalised against his wishes.

But on his way to Miami, in 2020, Bruno said of his pending meeting with Tyson: “I’m looking quite forward to it.”

When Tyson opens the door and greets Bruno they embrace and then sit and talk. It’s lovely stuff.

“It seems like a thousand light years away,” said Tyson of their fights.

The most impactful words from both come to the camera when they are on the own, but the magic comes when they are on screen together. At that point, nostalgia for a fight fan takes over and you see the chemistry, the shared story, the shared history and the mutual respect. It doesn’t need words, which is just as well as there aren’t too many. But seeing Tyson and Bruno wandering around the garden in one another’s company is somehow enough.

The blood has been spilt; the punches exchanged. There is no hate, and the tranquillity in the private garden setting cannot be lost on the viewer.

They were cultural icons who represented vastly different cross-sections of society who had been united in sport and the brotherhood of boxing.

Tyson gave Bruno his props for that left hook in that first fight.

“You see the white lights,” said Tyson, and then they talk about their fights with mental health.

“We’re all crazy,” Tyson told Bruno, adding later to camera, “Frank Bruno went into one mental health facility, I’ve been in around 10 of them!”

“Can you imagine if we fought again,” Mike said. “Frank would probably win.” 

“I feel like a close brother to him,” concluded Bruno, close to the end.

And just like that it’s over. You’re left wanting more. Bruno later tweeted they spent a long time together but producers didn’t use much of it, which is a shame because the stardust is sprinkled on that final section.

You want Bruno to ask Mike about losing his daughter, Exodus, under tragic circumstances? You want Tyson to ask Bruno about his struggles? You want them to talk about life after boxing, celebrity, fame, divorce, money, Joshua-Fury, Holyfield, Lennox and so much more.

But ultimately what’s there is enough. You see two troubled souls still fighting for peace and you hear two old warriors and the respect they have for one another.    

The film closes with one of Frank’s daughters saying, “I didn’t see how much he was putting on the line to give us the life he wanted to give us. I’m very proud of him, very very proud of him and everything he went through to give us the life that we’ve got.” 

In many ways, that’s a concise look into boxing. So much of the work goes on behind closed, unseen, done with no thanks or favor, to give people you don’t see and won’t know a better life.

But boxing does that. It gave Bruno and Tyson the opportunity to be somebodies and they are. Don’t get me wrong, this is no Ali-Frazier feud but it’s boxing at its purest. It’s boxing distilled into 100 minutes of a warm nostalgia that fight fans will enjoy.

From sparring as ambitious youngsters in Catskill, to winning world titles, to suffering in life, to reflecting together in Miami in 2020, the unlikely Bruno-Tyson story is well worth your time.