Not long released from prison, former heavyweight king Mike Tyson, arguably a bigger attraction than ever, set about regaining the heavyweight crown he had lost to Buster Douglas six years before. Tyson, still to turn 30 years of age, had smashed the hapless Peter McNeeley in his first fight back, and he had then stopped Buster Mathis Jr. in a slightly more testing fight. Now it was “The Championship: Part I.”
Frank Bruno, who had given the unbeaten Tyson a decent tussle back in 1989, even managing to rock the champ briefly in the opening round, was now the WBC heavyweight champion, having lifted Great Britain in a big way by defeating Oliver McCall to finally fulfill his lifelong dream in September of 1995. Big Frank had the undesirable task of making his first defence against the returned Tyson.
Bruno talked a great fight: “I’m going to knock Tyson right into Don King’s lap,” he vowed. And in light of how well Bruno did in his first meeting with “The Baddest Man On The Planet,” relatively speaking, some fans, British ones, were giving Bruno a shot against Tyson this time. How much did Tyson have left? Had his time spent behind bars taken something out of him, mentally or physically, or both?
It didn’t take long for us to get our answers. A fast starting Tyson was all over a petrified-looking Bruno (who had crossed himself multiple times during his ring walk; one writer later stating how the defending WBC champ almost took off) and the writing was on the wall. Bruno, soon cut around the eye, was doing everything he possibly could to grab and hold Tyson – giving the image of a man whose very life depended on it.
The end came after just :50 seconds of round three, as Tyson wiped Bruno out with a left hook followed by a furious combination. Tyson knelt on the canvas and gave his thanks in prayer form. Tyson was BACK!
Pay-Per-View was born in the U.K (the Tyson-Bruno return going out for £9.99), Bruno retired, the other heavyweight belt-holders braced at the thought of facing Tyson themselves, and Las Vegas was the place to see a heavyweight title fight.
Tyson would appear again soon enough, in “The Championship: Part 2.” Crushing WBA champ Bruce Seldon in pathetically easy fashion, Tyson was back to his very best in terms of scaring opponents. Most of them, anyway. Evander Holyfield, who fought Tyson in November of that very busy year, was not to be fall guy number-three in the series.
For now, though, Mike Tyson was king of the hill once again.