"And there goes Tommy Morrison's eight million dollar payday..."
The short, memorable, and highly eventful career of London-born, Brooklyn-bred heavyweight Michael Bentt reached its high water mark on October 29, 1993, when he went to the Tulsa Civic Center to face WBO heavyweight titleholder and "great white hope" Tommy Morrison.
The fight really didn't have much business happening, to be honest. Morrison was 38-1 with 33 knockouts, his only loss coming under a massive barrage in '91 against "Merciless" Ray Mercer. He had beaten George Foreman for the WBO title June 7, 1993, and defended on August 30 against Tim Tomashek, winning via fourth round TKO.
Two months later, he took on Bentt, a fighter with a 10-1 record and five knockouts. Bentt, 29, had never fought anything even approaching a legit fighter. He was knocked out in the first round of his pro career by Jerry Jones in 1989, but battled back to win 10 in a row -- again, against nothing but creampuffs.
Trained by Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Bentt came into the Morrison fight nothing more than a way for Morrison to pocket some easy cash on the way to a giant payday against fellow titlist Lennox Lewis.
Just a minute and 33 seconds into the fight, Bentt was the WBO heavyweight king.
This was so not supposed to happen that nobody talks about it these days when discussing the great upsets, it seems. Sure, the diehards remember it, but it's certainly not on the level of Buster Douglas stunning Tyson or Jim Braddock knocking off Max Baer. In many respects, it's probably because Morrison's career ended prematurely. In some, though, it's just because Bentt was not an inspirational story, really. He was just a flat-out shock. Douglas was a tough vet that had been around. Braddock was a rags-to-riches American tale that was made for Hollywood. Bentt? Who the hell is Bentt?
He lost his first defense, against wicked-punching Herbie Hide, getting dominated before being dropped for good in the seventh round. Two crushing right hands ended his night, his title reign, and his career.
The knockout left Bentt with some brain injuries, and it was feared that any further punishment could be truly dangerous, even fatal. So in his prime years, three months before his 30th birthday, Michael Bentt played it safe and bowed out of the sport.
His career may have been undistinguished for the most part on a stat sheet, but he was for one moment the most amazing story in sports. He wasn't a Cinderella; he was a nobody. And he won a heavyweight title with 90 great seconds of barroom brawling.
Currently, Michael Bentt is an actor, which he's been doing since leaving boxing, and he's set to have a small role in Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Giovanni Ribisi, Billy Crudup and the incomparably awful Stephen Dorff.