Today in Las Vegas back in 1996, heavyweight legend Mike Tyson perhaps had the easiest fight of his entire career, certainly his easiest, most hassle-free world title fight. Having been out of jail for just over a year and having taken care of: Peter McNeeley (another easy one for “Iron Mike”), Buster Mathis Junior and Frank Bruno (to reclaim portion-one of the world title; the WBC portion), 30 year old Tyson now faced Bruce Seldon for the WBA strap.
Lennox Lewis drew a good deal of criticism for agreeing to take a nice $4 million in step aside money in order to allow Tyson to fight Seldon (Lewis, who we now know was biding his time, eventually fought Tyson, beating him up in 2002) – but this was nothing compared to the outright rage Seldon was to cause due to his perceived non effort.
Knocked down quickly, by a left and a right from a rampaging Tyson, the latter punch appearing to either miss completely or merely graze Seldon’s chin, the defending WBA champ got up but was soon decked, and finished, by another seemingly less than thudding left to the head. Instantly, fans crammed into The MGM Grand began hollering “fix, fix!” Seldon was even quizzed live on air if he had indeed taken the money and ran, the deposited ex-champ denying any such thing (what was he gonna say!)
Tyson was now WBC and WBA champ all over again, and headed towards yet another fight that was looked at as another virtual gimmie for the one-time “Kid Dynamite;” this one with Evander Holyfield, who of course was made of far sterner stuff than McNeeley, Mathis Jr, Bruno and Seldon (who had beaten a faded Tony Tucker, a man who would have made mincemeat out of him had he met him in his prime, to take the WBA belt). A big, big shock lay in store for Tyson.
Something else was to rock Tyson’s world shortly after his easy night’s work against Seldon, though. Good friend, and globally celebrated rapper Tupac Shakur was in attendance for the Tyson-Seldon “fight,” and he was tragically and shockingly gunned down some time after leaving the arena. Tyson was, and still is to a degree, devastated.
It was one surreal night in Las Vegas, the night of September 7, 1996 proving memorable for reasons other than good things.