Mike Tyson vs McNeeley smashing spectacle: 24 years ago today (Video)
Believe it or not, club fighter Peter McNeeley (then 36-1, 30 KO) would participate in one of the biggest fights in boxing history.
The date was August 19, 1995 and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (then 41-1, 36 KO) would fight for the first time in 4 years due to his prison sentence.
McNeeley, of course, was the unlucky opponent.
Paroled on March 25, 1995, Tyson held a short press conference a few days later to announce his return. It was then Tyson vs McNeeley was declared to the world. And it was a big deal.
Tyson vs McNeeley would be an "event," indeed.
Due to the controversy of the alleged rape allegations Tyson had served time for, Mike would leave prison even a bigger name than when he entered it. And Mike's hiatus from boxing only added to the public's curiosity and intrigue.
And yes, despite being KO'd by Buster Douglas 5 years prior, public perception of Mike was akin to a comic book super hero or villain (depending on one's interpretation) who possessed powers far beyond mortal men.
Although Mike had started showing holes in his game post Douglas, he was still blasting opponents so most of us chalked up the Douglas affair to Mike being woefully ill-prepared or to it simply being a one 1 in a million fluke. And regardless, whether you loved or despised him, you were likely interested in knowing what would transpire in Las Vegas that night.
Would Tyson still be the same after 4 years away? What would his body look like? Would he have the same hunger and determination? Would the 26 year old McNeeley end up in the hospital for all his pre-fight shenanigans?
How badly would McNeeley pay for saying he'd 'wrap Tyson in a cocoon of horror?' And would Mike be even better than before?
Mike Tyson's most significant wins
TKO 2 Trevor Berbick, 1986
UD 12 Tony Tucker, 1987
TKO 7 Tyrell Biggs, 1987
TKO 4 Larry Holmes, 1988
KO 1 Michael Spinks, 1988
TKO 1 Alex Stewart, 1990
TKO 7 Donovan Ruddock, 1991
UD 12 Donovan Ruddock, 1991
TKO 3 Frank Bruno, 1996
Tyson vs McNeeley was an overwhelming financial success, grossing $96 million worldwide, including a then-record $63 million in pay-per-view buys with the fight being purchased by 1.52 million American homes.
The 29 year old Tyson would also pocket $25 Million, his largest career purse to that point.
The fight, itself, was short but interesting.
Immediately after the opening bell, McNeeley sprinted to Mike and fired bombs on the former champion whose back was against the ropes. But Tyson skillfully dodged those shots and put a very animated McNeeley on the seat of his pants within the first 7 seconds of the fight with a hard right hand, the first punch he threw.
A courageous McNeeley would go down again moments later, prompting his manager/trainer Vinny Vecchione to climb into the ring and stop the fight himself. And just like that, the fight was over in 89 seconds and Tyson was declared the winner by disqualification (When a trainer enters the ring during live action, his fighter is automatically disqualified).
Vecchione's actions seemed premature because Peter, despite the knockdowns, was aggressive, fighting hard and appeared to be mostly lucid.
Within 13 months, Mike Tyson would regain the WBC and WBA versions of the heavyweight title and would earn $30 Million apiece for subsequent fights with Bruce Seldon (1995), Frank Bruno (1996) and Evander Holyfield (1996 and 1997).
TV Guide included Tyson vs McNeeley in their list of the 50 Great TV Sports Moment of All Time in 1998.