SI Vault
Rick Reilly
July 07, 1997
The finery and thuggery of a fight-week crowd in Las Vegas are beyond belief—but then, so was the surreal aftermath of Tyson-Holyfield II
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July 07, 1997

Fear & Clothing In Las Vegas

The finery and thuggery of a fight-week crowd in Las Vegas are beyond belief—but then, so was the surreal aftermath of Tyson-Holyfield II

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The Tyson Guy is right out of Guys and Dolls, which means his uniform is just the opposite of the Tyson Girl's: The more material the better. High-button vests go over silk shirts, and high-button jackets go over the high-button vests. Sometimes a lavish cape is added, and a bowler. All in various shades of neon. The Tyson Guy holds a cell phone in one hand and a bottle of Dom Pérignon ($200 per in the MGM's Betty Boop bar) in the other.

All of which makes Vegas clothiers very happy. "This fight," says a haberdasher at the Fashion Show Mall, "will save our June."


To say this bout will be held in Las Vegas is to say it will be held nowhere and everywhere. Las Vegas is the only town in the world where you can pass the Statue of Liberty (at the new New York, New York hotel), the Pyramids (the Luxor), the Caribbean (Treasure Island) and, coming soon, the Eiffel Tower (the still-under-construction Paris Las Vegas) and the canals of Venice (the 6,600-room Venetian), all for a $6 cab fare.

Vegas isn't about the surface being more important that the substance. There is no substance. Nor much sentimentality. This is a town that took its most legendary hotel, the Sands (of Rat Pack fame), and blew it up for the entertainment of tourists. That's why the backdrop of a Tyson light does not last in your memory. When Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman in Zaire, there was a sense of place attached to the bout. But nothing really lasts in Las Vegas.


J.J. Casper, 5'10", blonde, blue-eyed, rose-lipped and only a little curvier than Vail Pass, is preparing to carry the round cards for the main event. We ask her to describe the perfect card-girl walk. "First of all, don't trip," Casper says. "Walk heel to toe, not toe to heel. No ankle movement. Arch your back and hold the card up high. Remember that the four-inch heels will get everything moving that needs to be moving. And the Number 1 rule is, Never make eye contact with the lighter. If you make eye contact with the fighter, it may break his concentration. I've seen it. They look up, and they're done for.

Hmmm. Maybe that's what happened.


No sporting event on earth pulls in as many celebrities as a Tyson fight. To name just the one-name luminaries who crowd the guest list for the oh-so-very-fabulous prefight party thrown by Showtime, which is producing the pay-per-view telecast: Demi, John-John, Madonna, Mel, Shaq, Sly, Tiger, Wesley and Whitney. There are also the nearly one-name-famous: Christian (Slater), Dennis (Rodman), Eddie (Murphy), Jenny (McCarthy), Kevin (Costner) and Nicolas (Cage). But having so many celebrities intermingle often makes for tortured conversation. For instance, there is this:

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