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  • Sunday, June 29, 1997

    Dozens injured in mayhem following bout

     LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Thousands of boxing fans fled the MGM Grand Hotel-Casino in panic following the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield bout, leaving dozens injured in one of the most frenzied aftermaths to a title fight.
     Hotel officials spent Sunday assessing the damage from a ballyhooed heavyweight rematch that ended when Tyson bit Holyfield on his ears in the third round.
     The capacity crowd of 16,331 at the MGM Grand Garden poured into parking lots and streamed through the hotel and casino, joining thousands who had gathered for a glimpse of celebrities.
     Chaos broke out in the hotel lobby and adjoining casino when people heard what they believed to be gunshots. Hotel executives said the sound was that of a champagne bottle breaking in the main lobby.
     "There was a pop, and people thought that was gunfire," MGM spokesman Jack Leone said. "People ran for the main entrance, they knocked over (barricades) outside the main door and that added to the noise and confusion. There was no gunfire."
     Leone said some 40 people were transported by ambulance to area hospitals during the melee, which began about 10:30 p.m. and lasted for nearly two hours. All were treated and released for minor injuries, except for one woman who fractured an ankle.
     Desert Springs Hospital, closest to the hotel, treated 40 people for fight-related injuries, according to a nursing supervisor who declined to give her name. Not all were believed to be from the MGM Grand.
     Metro Police reported three young adults were shot, one fatally, in a disturbance at a Las Vegas home following a party to watch the fight on television.
     Leone said Sunday there was no major damage at the resort. However, gambling -- the engine that drives the billion-dollar resort, particularly on a major fight night -- was shut for nearly two hours.
     Leone declined to estimate any gambling losses, saying such information is not released by the company. Gambling resumed Sunday, with most tables filled.
     Tony Marcus, a hotel guest from Des Moines, Iowa, said he had been sleeping in his room and came down after the fight.
     "There was chaos everywhere," he recounted, standing in the lobby where the melee had taken place. He remembers finding the gambling tables empty in the normally busy predawn hours. "I thought somebody had won all the money."
     "They don't have to worry about me coming back to another fight," said Ethel Kinghouse of Chicago.
     Eula Johnson of New York was more upbeat.
     "It was history," she said. "I didn't expect that."
     Confusion remained over what people heard to spark the bedlam.
     "I distinctly heard a 'pop, pop, pop, pop,' " said Dr. Doug Yarris, a Los Angeles dentist who was walking through the lobby when the melee began.
     In the immense main lobby, more than 20 Metro Police officers and a dozen security guards tried to control the crowd, batons drawn. At one point, several officers rushed a man in civilian clothes, wrestling him to the tile floor as startled guests screamed.
     The man, who was carrying a revolver, was released and exited the front door. Officers on the scene would not explain who the man was.
     The Nevada Highway Patrol and Las Vegas Metro Police Department said they had received reports of shots fired, but police could find no evidence of them.
     "No shells, no people wounded, no indentations," Police Sgt. Will Minor said.
     Cathy Hayes, a spokeswoman for Mercy Ambulance Service, said Sunday her company transported 25 people, including two heart attack victims, to area hospitals. She said another 20 were treated at the scene.
     'They were minor injuries, mostly from being trampled, people injured in the chaos, trying to get out of the way," Hayes said.
     Metro Police sealed off a two-block-long strip of Tropicana Avenue to try and disperse the crowd. More than 200 police officers and hotel security guards worked to clear the hotel lobby.
     Last September, the entourage of rap star Tupac Shakur was involved in a fight in a lobby at the MGM Grand after the Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon heavyweight championship fight.
     Shakur was shot a short time later as he and his entourage drove on a street near the Las Vegas Strip. Shakur died in a Las Vegas hospital six days later.

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