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  • Wednesday, June 25, 1997

    Holyfield vs. Tyson -- 'fight of the times'

     LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Mike Tyson calls his rematch with Evander Holyfield "probably the biggest fight in history."
     Jay Larkin of Showtime calls the bout Saturday night in the MGM Grand Garden the "biggest fight ever in every respect."
     In boxing legend, however, it has yet to -- and might not -- take its place alongside such heavyweight bouts as Jack Johnson-Jim Jeffries, the Gene Tunney-Jack Dempsey rematch, the second Joe Louis-Max Schmeling fight and the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fights.
     Larkin correctly qualifies it as "the fight of the times." And, in the context of pay-per-view in this age of sports and entertainment, the fight is indeed huge.
     "If you believe the projections I've read, this fight will gross $130 million," said Larkin, the man behind boxing on Showtime and its pay-per-view arm, SET. "It's one of the biggest sporting events ever."
     Holyfield will make at least $35 million, the largest single-event payday for any athlete or entertainer. Promoter Don King has said Tyson will make $30 million, although his purse originally was announced as $20 million.
     The first fight, in which Holyfield won the WBA heavyweight title by stopping Tyson in the 11th round Nov. 9, grossed approximately $100 million, with the pay-per-view revenue from $1.6 million buys producing close to $80 million, according to Larkin.
     Larkin said he thought the projection of 1.8 million pay-per-view buys at an average of $49.95 seemed sound.
     "I certainly think it's going to beat 1.6 million buys," he said.
     Other income includes foreign television rights and the live gate.
     "Anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the worldwide gross comes from foreign television," Larkin said.
     The 16,331-seat MGM Grand Garden is sold out, with ticket prices at $1,500, $1,000, $800, $699, $400 and $200, and the gate will be more than $14 million. The hotel also has put on sale 3,500 closed-circuit television seats at a price of $75.
     It will be Tyson's fifth fight on a six-fight deal with the MGM Grand, which started with his 89-second victory over Peter McNeeley on Aug. 19, 1995. That was Tyson's first fight since his release from prison after serving three years on a rape conviction.
     Larkin said Showtime-SET has a contract with Holyfield that "goes beyond this fight." As for Tyson, it has another year and a half left in its three-year deal with him, wih options in place.
     "We're pretty confident Mike Tyson and Showtime will be around for a while," he said. "Quite awhile."

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