Mike Tyson Blasts Frank Bruno – And is New Heavyweight Champion
- Mike Tyson 220 lbs
- Frank Bruno 247 lbs
- TKO at 0:50 in round 3 of 12
- Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Referee: Mills Lane
- Judge: Larry O’Connell 20-17
- Judge: Anek Hongtongkam 20-17
- Judge: Jerry Roth 20-17
The fight was televised live on pay-per-view by Showtime. It generated 1.37 million buys.
Paid attendance at the MGM Grand was 16,143, and the gross gate was $10,673,700.
Tyson’s purse was $30 million, and Bruno’s was $6 million.
Tyson entered the fight as a 5-1 favorite.
Bruno was making his first defense of the WBC heavyweight title, which he had won from Oliver McCall six months earlier. It took Bruno four tries to win a world title. He had previously lost title fights to Tim Witherspoon, Tyson and Lennox Lewis.
This was Tyson’s third fight since being released from prison, where he served three years for a rape conviction.
Gerald Eskenazi reported the following in March 17, 1996, edition of the New York Times:
There’s nothing left to speculate about. Mike Tyson is back, and dangerous.
His barrage of blows in the third round tonight, starting with a left hook and ending seven unanswered punches later, sent Frank Bruno into the ropes and his World Boxing Council heavyweight title back to the controversial Tyson.
Referee Mills Lane halted the bout after 50 seconds as Bruno was sitting on the first strand, absorbing blows.
The victory came six years after Tyson’s stunning loss of his title to Buster Douglas, and has started him back on the road to unifying the crown. There are two other champions he has to face to accomplish that.
Both Bruno and Tyson declined to appear at a post-fight news conference and Tyson said he would meet with the media on Sunday. But he told his handlers, “Tell the press I said I hit like a mule.”
He had just risen from the canvas himself, having gone down to his knees to pray after Lane halted the fight.
“I was going for the knockout from the first round,” he said, and that was obvious. He did not come in from the crouch, like the youthful Tyson. Instead, he was a straight-ahead bomber. He had Bruno holding from the opening moments. Bruno, in fact, was penalized a point for holding in the second round. He was hit often, and hard.
“You’ll find that I was a little brokenhearted when it was over,” Bruno said.
Richard Hoffer reported the following in the March 25, 1996, issue of Sports Illustrated:
With a crushing body blow, a series of enormous right hands and an uppercut that lifted the 6’3″, 247-pound Bruno off his feet, the 5’11 1/2″, 220-pound Tyson needed only 50 seconds more than two rounds to fashion his third comeback victory. The performance was reminiscent of the violent spectacle Tyson used to routinely provide before he became more dangerous out of the ring than in it. He was crisper than he had been in the two nontitle bouts he had fought since coming out of an Indiana prison last March. He was at least as powerful as he had been in 1989, when he met Bruno in defense of the unified championship. In that fight, at the height of his powers, he needed five rounds to dispatch his challenger and was rocked himself early on.
Bruno, chiseled and 27 pounds of muscle heavier than Tyson, ought to have been more formidable on Saturday. He has never been a bad boxer, even though he has been slow and lacking in stamina and had tended to come up short in title shots (three times before last week’s bout with Tyson). Now, presumably, he carried the confidence of a champion, having unseated Oliver McCall for the WBC crown last September. Besides that, as the only British-born heavyweight to hold a world title since Bob Fitzsimmons nearly a century ago, the immensely popular Bruno attracted a sprawling army of fans to Las Vegas, a reported 5,000 Mad Dogs and Englishmen who roamed the MGM Grand complex, hoisting beer, singing funny songs and otherwise showing support.
For all that, once the fighting started, Tyson might just as well have been facing Peter McNeeley or Buster Mathis Jr., the two prelim guys he demolished last year in a combined four rounds. Bruno, who had bragged of his “superior confidence” in the days before the fight, seemed to have caved in even before the two anthems were sung. On his walk to the ring he crossed himself perhaps a dozen times and didn’t evince an aura of certainty. And if he ever knew how to fight Tyson–bore straight in on the shorter man–he forgot in a panic. He failed to use his jab, could not or would not keep Tyson from lunging at him with overhand rights and allowed the kind of walk-through that not even the comically inept McNeeley would have permitted.
Tyson connected at will, sometimes out of the low-crouched stance that distinguished his evasive abilities in his prime. He staggered Bruno early in the first round and cut his left eyelid toward the end of that round. He staggered him again in the second, and in the third Tyson unleashed a 13-punch sequence that started with a right hand to Bruno’s body and ended with a left hook that sent Bruno crashing into the ropes, where referee Mills Lane interceded, stopping the fight. Bruno had offered absolutely nothing, and Tyson had rekindled memories of his quick and vicious stoppages of the past. Suddenly, after less than seven minutes of action, you couldn’t find a single Union Jack in the crowd.