Boxing promoter Don King announced yesterday that Mike Tyson and Donovan "Razor" Ruddock will fight a rematch of their March 18 fight on June 28 at The Mirage for the oddest of reasons.
"We're having Desert Storm II to bring integrity back to the sport of boxing," King said.
Integrity and boxing are not words often paired, so one had to believe that the nearly $35 million in pay-per-view sales that the first fight grossed (plus a paid gate over $5.5 million) before its controversial conclusion had something to do with King's rapid decision to forgo a scheduled June 8 Tyson fight against Renaldo Snipes in favor of offering Ruddock a rematch.
"Razor Ruddock will make more money in two non-title fights than Michael Spinks made in his one title fight with Tyson," said Ruddock's promoter, Murad Muhammad, which means Ruddock's two-fight purse will be in excess of $13 million.
Naturally, Tyson, who earned an estimated $6 million for last week's fight, will bank even more.
"The press started the demand for this fight," King said of the deal that was outlined within 48 hours of referee Richard Steele stepping between Tyson and Ruddock and stopping their 12-round fight at 2:22 of the seventh round with Ruddock stunned but still standing and screaming at Steele. "They know Ruddock is a late starter and it looked like he was coming into his own when Tyson flurried again and it was stopped."
King and Muhammad believe that the competitiveness of the fight and the resulting controversy will create a massive pay-per-view audience at $34.95 a head.
Also on the card will be three title fights. World Boxing Council super featherweight champion Azumah Nelson will defend his title against undefeated, three-time world champion Jeff Fenech; Julian Jackson will make the mandatory defense of his WBC middleweight title against Dennis Milton in a bout originally scheduled for April 22; and Julio Cesar Chavez will defend his International Boxing Federation and WBC super lightweight titles against either World Boxing Association champion Loreto Garza or IBF No. 1 contender Rafael Pineda.