Mike Tyson KOd by Evander Holyfield This Day November 9, 1996
- Mike Tyson 222 lbs
- Evander Holyfield 215 lbs
- TKO at 0:37 in round 11 of 12
- Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
- Referee: Mitch Halpern
- Judge: Dalby Shirley 92-96
- Judge: Frederico Vollmer 93-100
- Judge: Jerry Roth 92-96
Tyson and Holyfield were originally scheduled to fight on June 18, 1990, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Tyson, the Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion, was guaranteed more than $22 million, and Holyfield, the undisputed No. 1 heavyweight contender, was guaranteed more than $11 million. However, those plans went down the drain when Tyson lost the title to James (Buster) Douglas, a 42-1 underdog, by a 10th-round knockout on February 11, 1990, in Tokyo, Japan. Eight months later, on October 25, Douglas lost the title to Holyfield by a third-round knockout in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The second time Tyson and Holyfield were scheduled to fight was November 8, 1991, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. It was to be Holyfield’s second title defense. Holyfield was guaranteed $30 million, and Tyson was guaranteed $15 million. On September 9, Tyson was indicted on charges of raping a beauty-pageant contestant in Indianapolis, Indiana. Although some felt that the fight should have been canceled, it was still set to happen. Then, on October 19, it was announced that Tyson had injured his ribs, and the fight would have to be postponed. With Tyson’s trial set to begin on January 27, 1992, no new date was scheduled for the fight. On February 10, Tyson was convicted of rape and sent to prison.
Tyson was released from prison on March 25, 1995. He regained the WBC heavyweight title with a third-round TKO of Frank Bruno on March 16, 1996, and he regained the WBA heavyweight title with a first-round TKO of Bruce Seldon on September 7, 1996. Tyson relinquished the WBC title to fight Holyfield instead of the mandatory challenger, Lennox Lewis.
Tyson was guaranteed $30 million, and Holyfield was guaranteed $12 million.
A crowd of 16,103 at the MGM Grand produced a gate of $14,150,700.
The fight was televised live on pay-per-view by Showtime. It generated 1.59 million buys and produced over $79 million.
The Ring named Tyson vs. Holyfield Fight of the Year and Upset of the Year for 1996.
Holyfield was named 1996 Fighter of the Year by The Ring and the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Bob Cloud reported the following in the November 11, 1996, edition of the Las Vegas Sun:
Evander Holyfield, who opened as high as a 25-1 underdog, stopped Tyson on a TKO at 2:23 of the 11th round Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden. In raining a 12-punch onslaught on a dazed and hurt Tyson, Holyfield not only claimed the heavyweight title for the third time, but also sent thousands of happy betters to sports book windows clutching winning tickets.
Rob Terry, race and sports book director at Boulder Station, said no Las Vegas book he knows of managed to escape a beating. To understand how much money it takes to bet a fight down from 25-1 to 5-1 is to understand the beating the books received.
“It was devastating,” Terry said. “When you consider the fight opened at 25-1 and closed at 5-1, then you know there was a lot of movement. There was a huge amount of Holyfield money.”
“Everybody I’ve talked to was basically pasted,” added Jay Kornegay of the Imperial Palace. “That’s a typical Tyson fight because people have to lay such big odds on him. In such one-sided action we always need the big favorite.”
Terry said sports books had little choice but to offer the large odds on Tyson, especially considering how easily he had dispatched his four previous opponents while Holyfield struggled in recent fights. Tyson came in off a first-round knockout of Bruce Seldon, while Holyfield was unimpressive against Bobby Czyz.
“It was based on what was seen over the previous four fights,” he said. “But it was still pretty steep considering the types of fights he (Tyson) had. The line was put up based on fights against nobodies.
“The public got the better of it in this one for sure. Pure and simple, the sports books took a bath.”
Richard Hoffer reported the following in the November 18, 1996, issue of Sports Illustrated:
Tyson and Holyfield met in the center of the ring at the opening bell and engaged in the kind of furious combat that no heavyweight fight fan had seen in years. They swung wildly and then collapsed into clinches, shoved each other away and finally resumed battle as the cycle began again. It was breathtaking, especially when it became clear that Holyfield would not be flattened by Tyson’s straight-ahead fusillades. Suddenly Holyfield, the built-up cruiserweight, seemed formidable at 215 pounds, his 77 1/2-inch reach putting him out of range of Tyson’s 71 inches.
In the second round Holyfield, who is not known as a big puncher, hit Tyson with a left hand that seemed to stagger him. At the end of the round Tyson paused on his way to his corner and looked at Holyfield as if puzzled. In fact he was, as he admitted later, “blacked out.” The fight went eight more rounds, until referee Mitch Halpern stopped it less than a minute into the 11th, but afterward Tyson could recall none of them. For everyone else the bout was unforgettable. Holyfield’s constant pressure was a welcome sight after the weak-kneed efforts of Tyson’s previous opponents, but the challenger was providing something more than action. By crowding in, he was taking away Tyson’s hook, which is more effective from outside, and generally he was keeping Tyson too occupied to put together more than two punches.
Tyson was always a threat, of course, and in the fifth round he unleashed a right to Holyfield’s body and an uppercut to his chin, reminding everyone of his power. But Tyson was plainly befuddled, strangely ineffective. The two fighters would clash, tie up and get broken apart by the referee, and there Holyfield would be, still standing in front of Tyson.
Later Tyson would say he remembered nothing from the third round on. Not the sixth round, when Holyfield opened a small cut above Tyson’s left eye with an unintentional head butt and then decked him with a left hand to the shoulder as 16,325 people chanted Holyfield’s name. Tyson was definitely in trouble. In the seventh he kept looking to Halpern, complaining about head-butting. And later in that round he rushed Holyfield face-first and inadvertently smashed his left eye into Holyfield’s shaved head. Tyson gasped in pain, stood straight up and appealed to the ref again.
A sense that Holyfield really could win swept the crowd, and chants of “Let’s go, Mike!” were squashed by choruses of “Holy-field!” Tyson tried trading punches with Holyfield in the 10th, but that turned ugly for him when Holyfield hit him with a powerful combination, followed shortly by a right to the head and, with eight unanswered punches, backed him into the ropes. In all, Holyfield hit Tyson 23 times in the 10th. It had been a long time since anyone had seen Tyson saved by the bell.
The fight was effectively over, but it went 37 seconds into the 11th round, when a big right to Tyson’s head slammed him into the ropes again and Halpern embraced him in protection. “I don’t remember that round,” Tyson would say. “I got caught in something strange.”