Every Secret to Beating Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Posted by Steven Collier on Mar. 29th, 2016

It's been 25 years since gamers first got their mitts on Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! The NES Classic Boxing Game. And for a quarter of a century, countless pixellated pugilists have tried and failed to take down Iron Mike in this NES dream match. Tyson's widely regarded as one of the hardest boss battles in video game history. That's why I've decided to give you the DKOldies Advantage by explaining everything you need to know about how to finally take down Kid Dynamite.


Mike Tyson Punch Out NES Video Game

1. Quick Dodge is Your New Best Friend!

If you've ever played Punch-Out!! before, you should know that pressing left or right on the D-Pad causes Little Mac to dodge blows in that respective direction. What you might not know is that how long he lingers off to the side is directly proportional to how quickly you pressed the D-Pad. Pressing the D-Pad firmly will allow Little Mac to loiter out of harm's way for a lot longer than if you quickly tap the pad. Long dodges will help you out against enemies that like to throw slow, heavy blows, but Iron Mike is not one of them. If you long dodge in front of him, you'll just jump right into one of his quick, follow-up jabs. The key to victory is lots of consistent, quick dodges to weave between Tyson's unending flurry of blows.

2. Counter those Uppercuts!

When Tyson throws one of his devastating uppercuts, you'll notice that his face will always be facing either left or right. When you counter this attack, always throw your punch with the hand corresponding to the direction Mike is facing. So, if he's looking right, hit him with a punch from your left fist. If he's looking to the left, smack him with a right. Pretend you're trying to hit the back of his head. But, why go to all this effort? Because, hitting him from the correct direction will deal about twice as much damage as an incorrectly aimed blow. And, in this fight every punch matters.

3. Focus on Tyson!

Moreso than any other bout in Punch-Out!!, the fight with Tyson requires you to react to what your opponent is actually doing. Trying to guess his next move, or pull a fast one on Kid Dynamite is a sure-fire way to get TKO'd in no time. Like every other boxer in the game, Iron Mike telegraphs each of his moves...you just have a lot less time to react. So, instead of looking for a new chance to land one hit on Tyson, focus on what he's trying to do to you at any given time. Dodging five attacks is going to help you out a lot more than landing one. So, learn to focus on Mike and let him guide the course of the fight.

Okay, now that we've covered the three basic rules to engaging The Baddest Man on the Planet, it's time to delve into how you're actually going to knock him out.


ROUND 1: Tyson Comes Out Swinging!

Mike Tyson Knock Out Game Upper Cut

yson is never more dangerous than during the initial 1:30 of the first round. At the start of the match, he will do nothing but throw out uppercut, after uppercut, after uppercut. And, guess what? If even one of those hits you, it's an instant knock down. You need to avoid these at all costs. And luckily for you, there is a way...

Look For the Shine!

Fortunately, Tyson has a major tell for this attack. His game sprite will flash a different color a split second before he throws one of these devastating blows. It will look like Tysons's suddenly become shiny. That is your cue to immediately execute a quick dodge, to pop out of his way, and spring back just in time to deliver a couple of the counter-punches I mentioned earlier. Just dodge, pop him in the back of the head, and wait for him to take another swing. Tyson will try to fake you out a lot, but as long as you look for the shine, you'll know when he's bluffing.

Tyson Loses Steam Quickly!

After the first 1:30, Tyson will mix up his tactics. Much like a real life boxer, Tyson can't keep punching at full strength for the entire match. Eventually, he will get tired. And 1:30 is the magic moment when that happens. During this part of the first round, Tyson will stop throwing uppercuts and switch over to lashing out with less powerful hooks. They won't one-shot you, but that doesn't mean you can afford to take many hits either. Dodging the jabs requires you to be just as speedy as before, and this time his tells aren't going to be nearly as obvious. However, the same strategy still applies. Wait for a wind-up, quick dodge, and then come back with a a nice 1-2 counter-hit to the face.

Finish Strong!

Punch-Out Upper Cut

If you've really mastered dodging and countering Tyson's attacks so far, you can actually knock him down 2 times in the first round alone. However, it's more realistic to aim for one knock down and whittling his stamina down as much as possible before the end of the round. Don't overdo things and go for an early TKO, you're aiming to be in this battle for the long haul!


Punch-Out Jabs

Round 2 opens very similarly to round one, in that Tyson's initial attacks will be painfully predictable. For the first 30 seconds, the only move Tyson will perform is a kind of quick jab. He'll throw them out two at a time, then pause for a moment, before launching another two jabs. In total, he'll perform 5 sets of 2 jabs. That's 10 jabs in total. These punches come out FAST! So, rather than going in for the kill, just focus on surviving those first 30 seconds by dodging everything that comes your way. You'll get your chance to turn the tables on Tyson soon enough.

Mike Doesn't Learn!

After those first 30 seconds of jabs, Tyson goes right back to throwing the same hooks he was using during the second half of round one. And hopefully, you've gotten pretty good at countering those by now. As long as you've been putting consistent pressure on the giant, you should score your second knock-down fairly early in the round! Just be careful of Iron Mike's uppercuts. They may no longer be one-shot instakills, but they still do plenty of damage. He likes to try and surprise you with those in the second round, but they still have the same "shine-sprite" tell to warn you when they're coming. As an added bonus, you'll now be able to land a lot more than two punches after a dodged uppercut. So, punish him every time he tries to land one. Congratulations! The tides of battle are turning in your favor!


Punch-Out 1:30 Miracle

When you reach the 1:30 mark of round 2, Mike Tyson will momentarily stop attacking you. Instead, he'll just stand in the middle of the ring and blink a few times, like he just realized the gentle nobility of raising pigeons, or had a great idea for a kick-ass facial tattoo. It's a surreal moment. It's also the closest thing this fight has to mercy. Sucker Punch Iron Mike the moment he gets that 1000-yard stare for a free power star, and then brace yourself for a world of pain.


Apparently Tyson didn't like you interrupting his strange interlude, because he immediately retaliates with four insanely fast punches. You will not have time to dodge these attacks, so you'll have to block them. Surprisingly, for a game about boxing, you rarely have to block in Punch-Out!! Some players don't even know it's a move. To execute a block, press down on the D-Pad for every blow you need to absorb. Taking a quartet of angry Tyson punches will leave Little Mac exhausted but still standing. Which is good, because you're going to need to dodge a few more normal hooks immediately after that. But, if you can dodge all of those, you'll be back at full power and have a Super-Punch in reserve!

Don't Get Cocky!

Punch-Out TKO

Using that Super-Punch will be very tempting, but it's a trap. Given the move's longer wind-up, you're more-likely than not to leave yourself open for a Tyson comeback if you try to use it. He's going to be using a mixture of jabs, uppercuts, and hooks. So stay on your toes, and keep watching everything he does to stay one step ahead. Be grateful for the free damage you were able to score at 1:30, and don't try to push the envelope further! You've come too far to get sloppy now.


Towards the very end of the second round, at 2:30, Tyson will again freeze and start blinking absent-mindedly. Maybe your punches are hitting him harder than you realized. Or, maybe he's having serious issues with a contact lens. Either way, just repeat what you did at 1:30 - sucker-punch, block, dodge, and don't use any super-punches! Between, Tyson's two senior moments in the second round you should be well on your way to getting a TKO. But, don't push yourself! If you can score a second knock-down and some decent damage, go on the defensive. Spend the last bit of the second round dodging Tyson's attacks, and don't even worry about hitting him. You'll want all of your strength for the final round, where it will be far more useful.


Punch-Out Final Punch

In the final round, Tyson throws all strategy out the window. There's no pattern to what he does. You've got him on the ropes and he's running scared. So, he just comes out swinging blindly. He's desperate. And that's exactly where you want him. Poor Mike's fallen awfully far from throwing out those confident death punches at the start of round one. Just keep doing what you've been doing for the past two rounds and you'll whittle him down pretty quickly. But, if you really need an opening, Kid Dynamite will experience a THIRD moment of uncontrollable blinking at the 1:30 mark. (Seriously Mike, are you okay? Are you worried you left your oven on? What's happening?)

Round three is where Tyson's world comes crumbling down around him. He stops recovering absurd amounts of health every time he recovers from a knock-down. He has no new tricks in his arsenal. If you can keep your cool, and ride out Mike Tyson's last, desperate assault, you will introduce his unconscious face to the mat and earn your rightful place among the gaming elite, as one of the few who did the impossible and toppled the unbeatable Iron Mike.


Punch-Out characters surprised

In all honesty, beating Tyson is not something you're going to accomplish on your first try. The entire battle's stacked against you, and there's almost zero margin for error. Even today, beating Mike Tyson is considered one of the greatest challenges in gaming, and earned him a title as arguably the toughest boss on the NES. The only way you're going to get good enough to mop the floor with him is practice. But considering how you need to beat every other boxer in the game before you even get a shot at Tyson, it's almost impossible to spend enough time learning Tyson's patterns before you're sent back to square one. So, do yourself a favor: skip all that nonsense.

007 373 5963 is the password that will take you straight to the final showdown with Tyson.

Learn this code. Use it. Love it. I know that it's not how the game's meant to be played, but trust me on this: If you can beat Mike Tyson, no one will question your skill at Punch-Out!!. Compared to Kid Dynamite, all the other boxers are just warm-ups. His fight's already insanely one-sided, so why make it even harder on yourself?


Photo of a Punch-Out game cover

Buy Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! - For the NES

I wish I could tell you Tyson had a secret weakness. But, he doesn't. At the end of the day, the only thing that can beat him is pure skill. And that's exactly what makes him such a great boss, and your victory over him all the sweeter. I know I threw a lot of information at you in this guide, but as long as you stick to the 3 basics: quick-dodges, counters, and focusing on Tyson, I guarantee you will emerge victorious. I hope my advice helps in some small way. Just as I hope you'll soon be back to share your tales of victory in the comments below. 

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