Nearly 25 years ago in the Las Vegas desert, “Iron Mike” Tyson emerged from prison and recaptured a portion of the heavyweight title with a three-round destruction of England’s Frank Bruno.
Tyson, who lost his title in February of 1990 to Buster Douglas and then, served three years on a rape conviction in Indiana, looked like the “Iron Mike” of old on March 16th, 1996, in Las Vegas, as he overwhelmed Bruno almost from the beginning.
First, these two had actually fought during Tyson’s first title reign as Undisputed Champion. That bout in February of 1989 saw Tyson dismantled Bruno in the fifth round of their scheduled 12-rounder. Tyson’s victory was his 36th straight and his 32nd knockout and he seemed at that point to be unbeatable.
Obviously, Douglas changed all of that on the fateful February Sunday afternoon in Tokyo a year later.
Two years later Tyson was convicted of raping an Indianapolis beauty pageant contestant and served three years in prison from 1992 – 95. He subsequently won his first two fights after his release against relatively light competition in Peter McNeeley and Buster Mathis.
That set the stage for a natural rematch with Bruno who had captured the WBC Belt by out-pointing Oliver McCall over 12 rounds at Wembley Stadium the previous September.
Tyson was guaranteed $30 million and Bruno $6 million and the fight sold out the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a matter of days, when it was announced.
This fight would be one-sided unlike their first battle seven years earlier when Bruno had actually briefly rocked Tyson with a good punch in the first round, before being knocked down in the opening stanza himself. This time, it was Tyson landing a couple of lead rights and a good left hook of his own that Shook Bruno, although it did not put him down in round one.
Tyson continued the pressure while ripping left hooks and lead right hands. Bruno could only land an occasional right hand or uppercut. However, he repeatedly held Tyson afterwards, grappling him around the head. Finally, late in the second round, referee Mills Lane took a point from the Champ for the repeated clutching.
Round three began with Tyson scoring another big left and then, he got in a good elbow in another Bruno clinch.
The end came quickly with Tyson trapping Bruno along the ropes with a barrage of 7 punches including a big uppercut and solid left hook behind it, as Bruno sagged to the bottom rope and Lane waved the fight off at the 50 second mark.
And, with that Tyson had recaptured part of his title, just as former American greats like Muhammad Ali, Floyd Patterson, and Joe Louis had done before him.
Tyson improved to 37-1 that night nearly 25 years ago, and Bruno never fought again finishing his popular career at 40-5.
And, it all went down in the Vegas dessert in March of 1996.