For me, the Mike Tyson vs Peter McNeeley staredown is one of the most memorable moments in the years I’ve watched boxing. Not because it was a great fight—because it really wasn’t some great event in boxing history —but because of what came before the action began.
The two fighters faced off on August 19, 1995, in Las Vegas, Nevada, in what was Tyson’s first fight since being released from prison. The bout generated a lot of hype, as Tyson was seen as one of the most dominant heavyweights of all time, and McNeeley was a relatively unknown challenger who had never fought a top-ranked opponent before, despite an impressive one-loss record.
The Pre-fight Press Conference and Weigh-in
The staredown between Tyson and McNeeley began during the lead-in press conference and weigh-in the Thursday before the fight. The underdog had a long drawn-out speech lasting minutes compared to Tyson’s short “businesslike” one that was only seconds. The fire was stoked.
On fight night, Tyson was dressed in his trademark black shorts and gloves, while McNeeley wore green.
The Stare Down of All Staredowns, Tyson vs McNeeley
As they were called to the center to be read the rules, the two fighters stood face to face, not much space between them. Tyson towered over McNeeley—not in height, of course, but in persona, status, confidence. McNeeley made every attempt to look calm and relaxed, but that was all moot.
“Iron” Mike Tyson was the one who looked calm and composed but then his eyes locked onto McNeeley’s. There was a fierce intensity in his gaze that you can’t truly appreciate without understanding the moment and the years leading to it. If looks could kill, it would have. The crowd roared as the two fighters stared each other down, with many sensing that a brutal and violent encounter was imminent.
For those in attendance and the millions watching around the world, to watch Tyson lock eyes like a cobra—you got the sense that he was about to unleash a hellstorm.
The staredown lasted for just several seconds with neither fighter willing to break eye contact. On his show The Joe Rogan Experience (skip to 0:45), Rogan spoke about the staredown. Tyson’s physical condition, the build up, and of course the ferocity in those eyes.
Despite the drama of the staredown, the fight itself was short-lived. Tyson knocked out McNeeley in the first round after only 89 seconds, and the bout was stopped due to McNeeley’s corner throwing in the towel. In later years, he questioned that decision.