Boxing: Box office proves Tyson's drawing power

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THOUGH HE is clearly no longer the fighter of old, Mike Tyson is still proving a knock-out at the box office. Figures released by the Nevada Athletic Commission showed Tyson's comeback fight against the South African Francois Botha to be the sixth biggest attendance in the state's history.

The Commission said 10,221 people paid full ticket prices to watch the fight at the MGM Grand hotel-casino. The fight grossed $7,051,800 (pounds 4.3m) at the gate, dashing predictions by many before the bout that ticket sales would be poor.

The attendance trailed only four other Tyson fights and the first Oscar De La Hoya-Julio Cesar Chavez bout for gate money. The biggest grossing fight in Nevada history was Tyson's infamous biting of Evander Holyfield, which generated $14,277,200. "When you compare him to anybody else it's unbelievable," Marc Ratner, the commission's executive director, said.

Tyson's ability to draw fans to his fifth-round knockout of Botha was even more impressive because the bout on 16 January was sandwiched between two big Las Vegas weekends and the fight promotion was hastily put together. Another 750,000 people paid an average of $45 to buy the pay-per-view of the fight on television.

With a ticket tax of four per cent and a television tax of $50,000, Nevada earned about $330,000 in taxes. "There's not a promoter or a fighter in the world that wouldn't love to have those type of numbers," Dan Goossen, the promoter, said.

Still, the crowd in an arena that seats about 15,000 was far above what some writers had predicted when only a few thousand seats were sold the week before the fight. The announced attendance was 12,519, with the remainder getting in on reduced or complimentary tickets. "The reports just weren't accurate leading up to the fight," Goossen said. "I'm not pointing fingers at the media, but they end up looking at the glass half empty rather than half full."