Minutes prior to both Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield entering the ring, Michael Marley, who was the PR for promoter Don King, stopped by and whispered in my ear, “Brennan, remember you are at the center of the world tonight!” His words are strangely prophetic even after twenty years since the event.
Seated behind me, no more than five feet away were Madonna, the late President’s son John F. Kennedy Jr, John McCain and many other famous names. The atmosphere was electric, and the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas was packed.
The fight started with Holyfield using strong-arm and head butting tactics. Referee Mills Lane missed a lot of the illegal tactics much to the chagrin of Tyson. By the third round, Tyson took matters into his own hands by sinking his teeth into his opponent’s right ear. All hell broke loose with Holyfield stomping around the ring; a combination of pain and anger. The ring doctor examined the ear and surprisingly allowed the fight to continue with Tyson immediately applying the same carnivorous tactics. The ref had no option but to immediately disqualify Mike Tyson.
There is no other word to describe Tyson. He was in total meltdown, he had completely lost it. His handlers couldn’t control him. I had elevated myself on to the apron and was leaning on the ropes in the middle of the chaos when I was violently pulled down crashing the six-feet to the ground by a Las Vegas cop. Somewhat stunned, I looked up to see the cop just about to deliver a kicking when he was grabbed by a colleague and they both rushed into the ring where Tyson, by this time was taunting the crowd by grabbing his crotch. I hoisted myself again onto the apron and grabbed whatever picture I could. I was so close that most of Tyson’s back covered my wide-angle lens. However, I later looked to see that also included in the picture were four of five of the Vegas cops, including the thug who had sent me crashing, trying to corral Tyson.
I have been involved in some memorable moments but when it’s so very closely contained the sheer brutality leaves the spectacle etched on the memory.
I had known of Tyson’s emotional problems and knew he was on medication. It was claimed that he had stopped taking whatever he needed some weeks before the fight. However, Mike Tyson should never have fought that night. His actions brought that crowd to a near riot situation.