This Saturday’s double header featuring Gervonta Davis vs Frank Martin and David Benavidez vs Oleksandr Gvozdyk will be the 100th boxing card to be staged at the venerable MGM Grand Garden Arena in the last 30 years.

On Thursday, we began our look at the Top 20 fights in the venue’s storied history by listing numbers 11-20 plus a few honorable mentions. Time now for the Top 10. (Spoiler alert: there’s cheating involved, as the Top 10 actually features 11 cards and 15 fights. All will become clear.)

  1. Mike Tyson KO 3 Frank Bruno 

March 16, 1996

WBC heavyweight title

Before: Six years and one month after losing his crown to Buster Douglas, Tyson was on a quest to regain his titles, beginning with Bruno’s WBC belt. Tyson had stopped Bruno in five rounds in 1989 but the big Brit showed genuine courage in that contest, had lost just once since then – to countryman Lennox Lewis – and had taken the WBC belt from Oliver McCall in his most recent outing.

During: Any optimism that Bruno may have had the confidence to upend Tyson evaporated when he crossed himself repeatedly during his ringwalk. And despite literally holding on for dear life, and losing a point in round two for holding and hitting, he could not stop the Tyson onslaught, referee Mills Lane stepping in with Bruno helpless against the ropes in round three.

After: Tyson would add the WBA belt in his next fight, knocking out Bruce Seldon with a punch that appeared to miss by a mile, before he came up against Evander Holyfield and everything began to unravel. Bruno would not fight again.

  1. Mike Tyson W DQ 1 Peter McNeeley

August 19, 1995

Before: Anticipation was off the charts in advance of this bout, Tyson’s first in more than four years. McNeeley was a sacrificial lamb and of little interest to anyone as an opponent; what mattered to fans was how Tyson would look after spending three years in prison for rape. (His being a convicted rapist apparently did little if anything to diminish his popularity.) 

During: The defining image of this bout is probably from the referee’s instructions: McNeeley rocking from side to side with nervous tension as Tyson followed him with his eyes. The “fight” itself was predictably anti-climactic: McNeeley bull rushed Tyson, Tyson knocked McNeeley down, McNeeley bounced up, Tyson knocked him down again, and McNeeley’s corner team stepped into the ring to save him, prompting a DQ. Total time elapsed: 89 seconds.

After: During the first phase in his career, the craziness in Tyson’s life was mostly outside the ring. Subsequently, it would be inside the ring, too:  biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear, trying to break Frans Botha’s arm, scoring first round knockouts over very reluctant Bruce Seldon and Clifford Etienne. And still, somehow, it continues.

As for McNeeley: he would lose to the likes of Louis Monaco and Butterbean, and even film a commercial in which he was knocked out by a slice of pizza. 


  1. Juan Manuel Marquez KO 6 Manny Pacquiao

December 8, 2012

Before: Pacquiao and Marquez had fought three times before, twice at the MGM Grand. They drew the first after Marquez rebounded from three first-round knockdowns, and Pacquiao gained the edge in two rematches, both of which Marquez’s fans felt the Mexican should have won. (Pacquiao, however, would have won the first had judge Burt Clements correctly scored the first round 10-6 and not 10-7.) 

Pacquiao’s march through the weight divisions was accompanied by accusations of PED use, but they were as nothing compared to the murmurs that met Marquez’s physical transformation in just his third outing as a welterweight.

During: Marquez shocked the crowd with a knockdown on a long right hand in the third, but Pacquiao returned the favor in the fifth; the Filipino’s speed and power busted up the Mexican’s face and seemingly had him on course for a stoppage win when he walked onto a perfect Marquez right hand at the end of the sixth and fell face-first for the count as Roy Jones, on HBO commentary duty, declared, “He’s not getting up, Jim.”

After: As far as Marquez was concerned, this marked the end of his long and contentious rivalry with Pacquiao.  He would fight just twice more before retiring. Pacquiao continued to have plenty of big nights in Las Vegas, including the biggest of them all against Floyd Mayweather, but also took his show on the road: beating Chris Algieri and Brandon Rios in Macau, controversially losing to Jeff Horn in Australia, and stopping Lucas Matthyse in Malaysia.


  1. Manny Pacquiao KO 12 Miguel Cotto

November 14, 2009

WBO welterweight title 

Before: After losing his undefeated record to Antonio Margarito, Cotto put together wins over Michael Jennings and Joshua Clottey to earn a shot at Pacquiao. The Filipino was in the form of his life, having sent De La Hoya into retirement and poleaxed Hatton in his previous two contests.

During: This meeting between two future Hall-of-Famers was probably Pacquiao’s peak performance. Cotto started brightly, bouncing back from a third round knockdown, and the fight was shaping up to be a classic brawl until another knockdown in the fourth took much of the fight out of the Puerto Rican. The contest became increasingly one-way traffic until referee Kenny Bayless stopped the fight in the final round.

After: Cotto moved up to 154 lbs. and took a belt from Yuri Foreman before securing revenge against Margarito, losing to Mayweather and Austin Trout, then stopping Sergio Martinez to become lineal middleweight champion. Pacquiao achieved continued success but would never again look as explosive or dominant: after the Cotto fight, he went 12-5 with just 1 KO. A planned clash with Mayweather fell through and would not take place for another five years. On this night, however, the Pacman was as good as he would ever be.

  1. Floyd Mayweather W 12 Oscar De La Hoya

May 5, 2007

WBC junior middleweight title

Before: Sports Illustrated splashed its preview of this junior middleweight title fight on the cover with the headline “The Fight to Save Boxing.” It may not have done that (one can argue whether boxing needed, or still needs, saving) but its chances of doing so were greatly enhanced by the first ever HBO 24/7, in which Mayweather unveiled his ‘Money’ persona. 

During: De La Hoya won the majority of the early rounds until Mayweather figured him out. Once Mayweather took away De La Hoya’s jab, the bout was contested largely on the Michigan man’s terms; although one judge thought De La Hoya won 115-113, the other two scored for Mayweather by scores of 115-113 and 116-112. 

After: This was the fight that elevated Mayweather to superstardom. In his next fight, he would return to welterweight and knock out Ricky Hatton, and he would go undefeated over the rest of his career. De La Hoya would win one more fight before retiring after defeat by Manny Pacquiao. 

  1. Frankie Randall W 12 Julio Cesar Chavez 

January 29, 1994

WBC junior welterweight title 

Before: The first main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena saw Chavez enter with a record of 89-0-1, even if most observers felt it should have been 89-1 following his controversial draw with Pernell Whitaker. Few if any expected Randall, whose most impressive win had been over a shopworn Edwin Rosario, to be the first to hang an official L on Chavez’s record. 

During: To most people’s surprise, Randall started out strongly and built an early lead on the cards. Chavez started reeling him in over the second half of the fight, but Randall dropped him in the 11th round and that, combined with two points deductions for low blows, saw him over the line via split decision.

After: Chavez cried foul, blaming referee Richard Steele for his defeat, and demanded a rematch. Which, of course, he got, although he wouldn’t be the only getting the chance for revenge on that card.

  1. Revenge: The Rematches

May 7, 1994

WBC junior welterweight title 

WBC super featherweight title

WBC middleweight title 

WBC junior middleweight title

Before: Just a few months after Randall defeated Chavez, they met in a rematch atop a four-fight PPV. In addition to Chavez seeking revenge over Randall, the PPV featured Terry Norris attempting to avenge a knockout loss to Simon Brown, Julian Jackson hoping to reverse a stoppage defeat to Gerald McClellan, and Azumah Nelson and Jesse James Leija meeting again after fighting to a draw the previous year. 

During: Chavez regained his 140lb title by technical decision when the fight was stopped due a cut he suffered from an accidental headbutt. McClellan knocked out Jackson again, this time in the first round; Norris leveled things against Brown with a unanimous decision; and Leija outpointed Nelson. The undercard featured wins for Ricardo Lopez, Calvin Grove, and Meldrick Taylor, and a draw between Christy Martin and Laura Serrano.

After: With four future Hall of Famers on the PPV, and a total of six on the whole card, Revenge: The Rematches has become the byword for deep cards. Chavez stayed unbeaten for another two years until he ran into Oscar De La Hoya, and he outpointed Randall again in his penultimate career victory.

  1. Floyd Mayweather W 12 Manny Pacquiao

May 2, 2015

WBA/WBC/WBO/lineal welterweight championship

Before: No fight in recent history, at any venue, ever had a bigger build up. Mayweather and Pacquiao had been circling each other for years and at one point seemed set to face each other in Dallas in March 2010. When they did eventually meet, it was for all the marbles: not only for the right to be called the number one welterweight in the world but also P4P number one and the title of best fighter of his generation.

During: Unfortunately, because most boxing fans were priced out, the atmosphere in the arena was subpar for an event of this magnitude, and the fight itself was unremarkable. The first half was reasonably even, but Pacquiao showed none of the explosiveness that had made him so great. Over the second half, Mayweather pulled away, but disappointed the crowd by cruising to the finish instead of looking to make an even bigger statement. The man from Grand Rapids won a comfortable decision, and pocketed a reported $250 million.

After: Had the contest even remotely lived up to the billing, this would probably be number one, but who can recall more than a couple of moments? Hagler-Hearns was a hyped clash that people rewatch and talk about still; Mayweather-Pacquiao isn’t. Still, it sold 4.4 million PPVs in the USA, a record that is unlikely ever to be beaten. 

  1. George Foreman KO 10 Michael Moorer

November 5, 1994

WBA/IBF/lineal heavyweight championship

Before: Moorer had been a devastating, power-punching, light-heavyweight champion, before stepping up to heavyweight and recovering from a knockdown to take the crown from Evander Holyfield. 

Foreman had first won the heavyweight crown from Joe Frazier in 1973, before losing it to Muhammad Ali the following year.  He retired in 1977 but began a seemingly quixotic comeback in 1987; he fell short in a challenge for Holyfield’s crown in 1991, but offered a challenge to new champ Moorer. If he won, Foreman would, at age 45, become the oldest world champion in boxing history.

During: For much of the fight, Moorer appeared to be in cruise control, peppering the older man’s with southpaw jabs and winning seven of nine completed rounds on two judges’ cards. Foreman’s goal, however, was tonsteer Moorer onto a short right hand and in the 10th, he succeeded. Moorer dropped to his back, his lip bloodied, and couldn’t beat the count. “It happened! It happened!” declared HBO’s Jim Lampley. Foreman, at 45, was once again the champion.

After: Foreman scored three more wins before dropping a highly controversial decision to Shannon Briggs and retiring again, this time for good. Moorer lost by stoppage in a rematch with Holyfield, was blown out inside a round by David Tua, and retired in 2008 with a record of 52-4-1.

1.Evander Holyfield KO 11 Mike Tyson

Evander Holyfield W DQ 3 Mike Tyson

November 9, 1996

June 28, 1997

WBA heavyweight title

Before: Tyson was on the comeback trail after spending three years in prison, and in his previous outings had dispatched Frank Bruno and Bruce Seldon to regain a share of the heavyweight crown. He was a big favorite entering the contest against Holyfield, who had already briefly retired once with suspected heart problems before proclaiming himself cured by a faith healer.

During: Holyfield and Tyson had known each other as amateurs, and Holyfield had developed a reputation as being one of the few not to be intimidated by Tyson. He withstood Tyson’s opening assaults in the first fight and steadily began to back Tyson up with power combinations, dropping him in the sixth round, badly hurting him in the tenth and stopping him in the eleventh.

Tyson complained that he had been stunned and disadvantaged by Holyfield’s use of his head, which opened up a cut above Tyson’s eye in the sixth and caused his knees to buckle from a clash of heads in the seventh. Angry at referee Mitch Halpern for not penalizing Holyfield, Team Tyson protested Halpern’s appointment for the rematch, prompting Halpern to step aside and be replaced by Mills Lane. 

When Tyson again was hurt by accidental headbutts in the rematch, he took matters into his own teeth, spitting out his mouthpiece in the third round, biting down on Holyfield’s ear and taking a chunk out of it. Holyfield recoiled in agony, and Lane paused the bout and deducted two points from Tyson; when action resumed, Tyson bit Holyfield’s other ear and between rounds, Lane disqualified him.

After: Once he realized he had been disqualified, Tyson erupted, fighting with Nevada commission officials, MGM security, and police in the ring. The tension spilled outside into the arena and the rest of the property, as fights broke out on the casino floor, fake reports of gunfire prompted a stampede, and the property was forced to close its doors for two hours to quell the disturbance.

For all the chaos that frequently swirled around Tyson, no image is more indelible than that of him leaning in to bite Holyfield’s ear and Holyfield leaping around in pain. Tyson did fight once more at the MGM, knocking out Frans Botha after attempting to break his arm; he was slated to face off there against Lennox Lewis, as well, until he attacked the big Brit at a press conference and Nevada washed its hands of him.

Holyfield would fight on for another 15 years, finally retiring in 2011 after defeating Brian Nielsen in Denmark.

Kieran Mulvaney has written, broadcast and recorded podcasts about boxing for HBO, Showtime, ESPN and Reuters, among other outlets. He also writes regularly for National Geographic, has written several books on the Arctic and Antarctic, and is at his happiest hanging out with wild polar bears. His website is

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