|Don King controlled the heavyweight championship at this time. The champions were the WBC’s Frank Bruno, the WBA’s Bruce Seldon and the IBF title was to be contested later in the year by Michael Moorer and Axel Schultz. Bruno was making the first defense of his WBC title. He had won the title six months previously|
on an emotional evening at Wembley Stadium, London by out-pointing Oliver McCall In what was Bruno’s fourth attempt after unsuccessful shots at Tim Witherspoon, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. There were calls for Bruno to defend his title against British rival Lennox Lewis. Three years previously, Lewis successfully defended against Bruno in a voluntary defense. Lewis was at the time WBC number one contender until for one reason or another, Mike Tyson was installed as number one. Bruno however would receive more money for a defense against Tyson.
This was Tyson’s third comeback fight after his incarceration. In 1995, he defeated Peter McNeeley and Buster Mathis Jr. in routine comeback fights. Bruno was ringside for Tyson’s second comeback fight and the scene was set for Tyson and Bruno to meet again. In their first meeting seven years previously when Tyson was the undisputed champion, Bruno shook the champion in the first before eventually being stopped in the fifth. At the time of bout number two, there was still an element of the unknown, as Bruno, since their first meeting, had certainly matured as a fighter and Tyson for the first time in five years was meeting an opponent with genuine knockout power.
The two would meet on March 16 1996, and as in the first fight, Bruno’s army of fans crossed the pond to take over the Las Vegas arena. It was almost as though Bruno was fighting at home. However, the occasion seemed to be too much for Bruno as he crossed himself countless times in his walk to the ring. Tyson looked his usually menacing self. Before the fight, Tyson said that he had no choice but to win and these were certainly ominous words for the champion. Both men were heavier than in their previous meeting with Bruno scaling 247-pounds and Tyson-220.
In round one, Tyson charged at Bruno but Bruno landed a couple of good shots, but already was given a warning by referee Mills Lane for his holding and hitting tactics. Thirty seconds from the close of the round, Bruno was shaken by a big Tyson right hand and was cut over the left eye.
Round two followed the same pattern with some rough fighting from both men. Mills Lane this time warned both fighters. The round continued with Bruno holding Tyson but still being caught by some big shots. Bruno was also deducted a point from Lane as he was in the first Tyson meeting.
In round three Tyson’s speed was again the difference and the holding continued from Bruno. This time Mills Lane threatened disqualification. This however didn’t happen as Bruno, when turning southpaw, was caught by a vicious Tyson five-punch combination. With the champion against the ropes and defenseless, referee Mills Lane stepped in and ended Bruno’s reign.
This fight was Bruno’s last as a professional boxer. Recurring eye problems that forced an operation before Bruno’s first professional fight again cropped up and he was forced to retire. Tyson would go on later in the year to unify the WBA and WBC versions of the crown, stopping Bruce Seldon in the first round. Tyson was stripped of the WBC version of the title however, as Lennox Lewis, who was now the number one contender was paid step aside money so Tyson could fight long-time rival Evander Holyfield in a fight that was originally scheduled for five years earlier.