Legendary Boxing Referee Mills Lane Dies At 85

He ended his career 20 years ago.

One of the best-known referees died Tuesday morning at the age of 85. 

Tommy Lane, the son of Mills Lane, told the Reno Gazette Journal that his father was in hospice care for the past week.  

The elder Lane suffered from a stroke 20 years ago, which ended his career. 

“He took a significant decline in his overall situation,” Tommy Lane told the Journal.  

“It was a quick departure. He was comfortable and he was surrounded by his family. … 

“You never knew how long he had. We kind of felt like we were preparing for this all along, but there’s no such thing as preparing for this.” 

Mills Lane became well known for working more than 100 championship fights, including some of the biggest fights from the 1970s to 1990s. 

But perhaps he is best known for the rematch between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield in 1997 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas — “The Bite Fight.” 

Lane was the third man in ring where Tyson bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear. He had disqualified Tyson the second time that he bit Holyfield. 

Lane also worked the famous Holyfield-Riddick Bowe fight, or “Fan Man” fight in 1993, where a man paraglided into the ring. 

“He was as good as any referee in the world. I don’t care if it was a heavyweight fight or smaller guys, when he said ‘break’ and got in between guys, the fighters respected him,” former executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission Marc Ratner told the Los Angeles Times in 1991. 

“Not all referees have that. He was no nonsense. He took control. There was an aura about him.” 

Lane, also known for his “Let’s get it on!” catchphrase, was also featured as a boxing referee on MTV’s “Celebrity Death Match,” which debuted in 1998 and starred fights between pp culture figures. 

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