Remembering Bowe vs Holyfield and Fan Man 25 Years Later

By: TC Martin

It was November 6th, 1993 and a rather cool night around 50 degrees at the outdoor arena at Caesars Palace; the quintessential venue at the time for mega fights in Las Vegas.  We were all expecting a rock em’, sock em, back and forth battle between Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe and Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield.  Instead we got James Miller, from Henderson, a nut-job who thought it would be a good attention grabber to design a motorized parachute and glide into the ring of the World Heavyweight Championship bout.

The fight played out according to form until the seventh round.  At the 1:50 mark, much to everyone’s surprise, we glanced up to the sky and saw Miller crash the party; literally.  His parachute was tangled in the lighting truss and before he could land he was caught in the ropes.  Looking like a bad version Woody Allan in one of his comedies, he was then pummeled by Bowe’s Manager, Rock Newman and his entourage, followed by Metro Police and security guards.

There was a 21 minute delay to clean up the debris and escort him to the Clark County Detention Center.  Ring Announcer Michael Buffer calmed the crowd asked everyone to remain seated.  Meanwhile, Marc Ratner who was just named Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, was trying to control the chaos with the fighters and their camps along with ringside officials.

One of the most interested observers was Bowe’s wife, Judy who was pregnant at the time.  She fainted and had to be taken to the hospital.  As she was revived, she wanted her husband to forgo the remainder of the fight and come to the hospital with her.  Bowe stayed and the fight resumed after the long delay.

Holyfield eventually won the bout by a unanimous decision but if it wasn’t for the interruption, we may have had a different result.  Judge, Patricia Morse-Jarman scored the seventh round even at 10-10.  She later said Bowe was clearly winning the round until the stoppage but because it was so chaotic, she felt she should score it even.  If she would have scored it 10-9 for Bowe, the outcome would have been a Majority Draw and Bowe would have kept his belts.

As far as what we witnessed 25 years ago, the mood of the crowd was sheer amazement. Not in the terms of disgust but more of amusement.  If this would have happened during our current decade. the thoughts would conger up terrorism.  Being pre-9-11, no one thought of it being any more than sillyness.  This was a time when we were used to Morgana The Kissing Bandit and  streakers at sporting events.  Actress Demi Moore was ringside and asked it this was part of the show?   It was a different time back then, pre-internet and social media.  For those of us that witnessed it, we look back and say, “That was crazy but it was pretty cool to be there.” .