I have come across something very intersting as it relates to this game. For years it has been debated as to how and why the MTPO cover art came about. The only known cover image known is what appears on the box. However, I was watching a Tyson documentary a few days ago on a special 14 disk career compilation DVD last week and a picture showed up I have never seen before. I paused the DVD and took a few pictures and upladed a special photo album to its own webspace so everyone can see. The link is here: http://multiply.com/mail/updates/mrturk/1?&campaign=#_mainfilter. Once on the page just click on the album and there should be 3 pictures which you can enlarge, rotate, etc. From what I can ascertain this appears to be a prototype of the original album cover idea for this game. The photo appeared in a BIO documentary about Tyson. At first glance I thought this might just be fan art or fan inspired. However, the official Nintnedo Entertainment System logo appears at the bottom. I ran this by Daniel Lanciana since he did extensive research of fan art related photos for the upcoming book and he said he has never seen this photo. Also, of importance the cursive writing for Tyson's signature appears to be the same but slightly larger on this version. Also, there are 2 exclamation points after the words "Punch-Out" just as there are on the original box cover. Also, on the prototype cover the game reads "Mike Tyson Punch-Out" instead of "Mike Tyson's Punch Out." Also, the offical Nintendo seal of quality is absent. All of these things point to a project that was started but never finished.
Okay, so who is in the photo with Tyson? Being a boxing historian myself and studying the mechanics of the punch shown in the photo I believe I have found the answer. The prototype cover appears to be an artist's rendition of the follow-through of a Tyson right hand thrown against Trevor Berbick from a Novermber 22, 1986 title fight from the Las Vegas Hilton. In photo 2 of the album I belive I have found the exact photo that the artist was trying to replicate. You can see in that photo the same follow-through punch by Tyson seen in the original photo. Also, if you notice Berbick is trying to counter the punch using a body blow in both the real and prototype photo. Also, the referee who appears to be bald is in the correct position in both photos. I believe the referee is a rendition of Mills Lane who was the real referee in that fight. Photo 3 is approximately 3 frames before picure 2 and shows where the punch lands on the front of Berbick's face before he pulls back. I came to the realization that this was Berbick on several fronts. In the cover photo the boxer in question appears to be wearing black like Tyson. Berbick wore black in the Tyson fight. Berbick also had white handwraps around his gloves in the Tyson fight and he appears with those in the photo. Also, if you look at Tyson's in-game record on the character intro. screen for the real game you will see that he was 31-0 with 27 KO's. In real life this would have been Tyson's record going into the Tyrell Biggs fight so there is only about a 10 boxer window for the opponent in this photo since Tyson did not begin to wear black trunks until his 17th pro fight. The only other boxer it could be is Alfonso Ratliff (the fight before Berbick) but he was smaller than Berbick and based on my research I could not find any punches where everything matched up. Berbick, of course, would have been a great choice with Tyson making history by becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in that fight.
So, I guess the real question is why was this cover not used? Is it possible that Berbick or Mills Lane objected to having their likeness used or wanted additional compensation? Suddenly it seems to make a lot more sense why Nintendo chose the the theatrical, live-action shot that appeared on the real game cover. It appears though that it was not the original idea. It has been a long time since anything in this game surprised me but this does it.
Too much text. Tag.
Is there a tldr version?
While I haven't been on the boards in a while, I'm rather surprised that you had not seen this prototype art in the Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! commercial from way back in the day.
Near the end of that commercial the cover art in question is shown in the grasp of a boxing glove.
You're right, that picture was definitely copied/inspired by the cover of the December 1986 issue of Sports Illustrated, where Mike Tyson and Trevor Berbick are seen exchanging blows. Referee Mills Lane's face is cut off by Berbick in that shot, however the prototype cover obviously changed his position.
As to why the cover of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! was altered in the end, copyrights could be one issue, as you mentioned, Matt, but I think that Nintendo wanted to have an actual picture of Mike, rather than art.
Either way, Nintendo never got it right with the final cover of this game. Mike is not supposed to seem passive when landing a punch. Nintendo probably figured that some parents would deem the game to be far too violent if Mike had some kind of grimace on his face, so the big heads decided to make him neutral instead.
While Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! is my all-time favorite video game, the game's cover is among my all-time least favorite.
The cover of Foreman For Real is SO much better, but the game itself is SO much worse hahaha!
Hey Daniel nice to hear from you. Yes, just after posting the original message I was reviewing a few things for Daniel's book and realized that it does appear in the "boxing glove" at the end of the Tyson promoted commercial. However, it was odd that the Bio documentary would have chosen this particular version of the cover to show while taking about Tyson's endorsements in the late 80's. The documentary is dated from 2007 which was a few years after Tyson retired. Also, I wonder how close to the release date that the Tyson commercial was shot. It most likely would have been sometime in mid-87 as the game was released in October of 1987 with Tyson's record at 31-0 which would have been his record going into the Biggs fight. He fought Tucker on 8-1-87 so that would leave a few months for a last minute change. Yeah, I really did not like the actual cover that was released with the theatrical, staged live action shot. I have never seen Tyson throw a punch without a look of absolute viciousness on his face which is the main reason you can tell that this did not come from any of his real fights. Also, Tyson used to wear a U.S. flag emblem on his trunks for all of his fights when he was champion and you can see that there is nothing on his trunks at all. Most likely this was a pair of his training/sparring trunks. You, Tom, and I all talked about this cover way back in 2003. However, we never did find out who the actors were that appeared on the box cover along with Mike and the location of the shoot itself.
Okay, here is a link to that sports illustrated cover:http://graphic-server.com/cgi-bin/backissues.cgi?full/SI19861201.JPG.
Hi Matt! Yeah, my only guess about why that Mike Tyson documentary chose to feature the prototype cover rather than the actual one, is that they felt that it was more realistic looking (more true to boxing) than the final product.
To this day, I'm sure that most fans of this great game would like to know who the boxer getting punched (more like tapped) by Mike Tyson actually is. Does anyone have any guesses?
It's odd that the punched boxer's face is shown on the cover of Punch-Out!! featuring Mr. Dream, but it obviously can't be the same guy, as even the referee was clearly altered in that image.
I would think that since the boxer's face isn't shown on the Tyson version that it either has to be one of Mike's sparring partners or some random guy pretending to be a boxer. Probably the latter, as it wouldn't make sense to have a notable opponent on the cover. However, it would have made more sense to have placed some little kid/teenager who resembled Little Mac instead.
Just imagine: A side view shot with a Little Mac look-alike sporting an all business look on his face (Karate Kid-like) in a stare-down with Mike Tyson, with Mike sporting one his trademark arrogant smirks, feeling that this kid's a joke. It would have been epic!
Kids would have probably been able to better identify with that cover, feeling that they would actually get the chance to face off and potentially beat Mike Tyson! Instead we were given an incomplete cover, how disappointing!