Tyson smashes way to $2.17m-a-second win

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 August, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 August, 1995, 12:00am

IN the time it will take you to read this story, Mike Tyson earned US$25 million (HK$193.45 million) at the weekend.

Watched by Madonna, Eddie Murphy, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the sensational heavyweight netted himself a hefty US$280,898.80 - or about HK$2.17 million - a second in his return to the ring after a three-year prison sentence for rape.

Tyson's earning power was about the most exciting thing that happened at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas on Saturday night (Nevada time) - except for the way the fight ended.

If Tyson, 29, had knocked out no-hope opponent Peter McNeeley in the first round, that would have been no surprise. But it was McNeeley's father figure and trainer, Vinnie Vecchione, who did the job for him.

Eighty-nine seconds after the bout started, Vecchione jumped through the ropes and called it a day on behalf of his fighter.

By then, McNeeley, 26, had been knocked down twice, once by a left hand and once by a right uppercut.

Even promoter Don King seemed embarrassed.

Referee Mills Lane - who later ruled the bout's end a disqualification - was preparing to wave the fighters into the centre of the ring when he saw Vecchione, who looked into McNeeley's eyes and said: 'That's it.' The sellout 17,000 crowd had paid as much as US$1,500 a seat.

But they paid all that money for a fight shorter than the pre-fight introduction of Tyson in the ring. Tyson received US$25 million for less than two minutes of action. McNeeley got about US$800,000.

In the frenzy inside the ring as the fight ended, McNeeley acted dazed, hugging relatives and smiling broadly as if his hand had been lifted in victory. He even said afterwards: 'I rocked him. I'm coming back.' Tyson, emotionless, left quickly.

According to a spokesman for MGM Grand, the live gate was expected to hit US$15 million, the largest in boxing history, surpassing US$13 million paid for Tyson's fight against Michael Spinks.

The one man who did not come out a winner was Vecchione. His purse has been withheld by the Nevada State Athletic Commission pending an investigation of the way he ended the fight. Full report - Page 28