Fourteen Years Ago Today: Tyson Disqualified Against Holyfield In “Bite Fight!”
By James Slater: Larger-than-life promoter Don King hoped the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield rematch would go down in history as a bout known as “The Sound And The Fury.” Instead, the fight was soon to be given an unofficial tag line: that of “The Bite Fight!”
Article posted on 29.06.2011
It was fourteen years ago today at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas that former champ Tyson did the unthinkable and bit defending champ Holyfield’s ear in that shockingly surreal 3rd-round. Frustrated, he later said, by “The Real Deal’s” persistent head-butts, “Iron” Mike lost his cool and sought to hurt Holyfield any way he could. Due to the way he was outclassed and ultimately stopped by the former undisputed cruiserweight king in their first encounter seven months ago (Tyson-Holyfield II was originally set for May of ’97, but was postponed; some said so Tyson could have more time to get into shape), Tyson knew he was unable to sufficiently hurt the heavyweight ruler with his fists.
So, that fateful 3rd-round, with millions watching around the world, “The Baddest Man On The Planet” went out and sunk his gold teeth into his rivals’ right ear. No-one, least of all referee Mills Lane, knew what was happening at first. Evander jumped up into the air, in obvious pain, and Tyson waved him in. Lane then saw Tyson spit out a portion of Holyfield’s ear, as did the watching world. A time-out was called but any hopes anybody had that Tyson would regain the ability to think like a human being were short lived; as Tyson bit his opponent’s left ear once the fight was allowed to continue.
That was more than enough for anyone and the fight was stopped. Tyson, still enraged and acting like a lunatic, wasn’t content with his having permanently disfigured Holyfield (as well as shoving him from behind when Evander was walking back to his corner after the initial bite), he then threw stray punches at the quickly-formed throng in the ring, as he again tried to get to Holyfield. The scenes were as unforgettable as they were sickening.
Then, with some sort of order restored, Jimmy Lennon Junior read out the official result: Holyfield had won by disqualification due to the fact that Tyson had bitten him on both ears. Even King was at a temporary loss for words! Once the best fighter on the planet, now reduced to nothing more than a cowardly thug, Tyson’s reputation had just been blasted into Bolivian (sorry, oblivion!) and even a former street hustler with the smarts King possessed knew it.
There was no way back from this, and neither should there have been. Should Tyson have ever been allowed to fight again after this? Certainly not, especially when we recall how, in his first fight back two-and-a-half years later, Tyson tried his best to break Frans Botha’s arm in a clinch. So much for Tyson having learnt his lesson and being willing to once again obey the manly rules the sport of boxing demands.
Former light-heavyweight and cruiserweight champ Bobby Czyz, who was co-commentating the “Bite Fight” for Showtime, later refereed to the fight as the most unforgettable he’d ever called. He is not the only person to have subsequently been unable to forget the obscene drama that took place 14-years ago today. Tyson later apologized and Holyfield forgave him. Mike’s place in history will forever be tainted by what he was willing to do inside the ropes in that infamous 3rd-round, however.
Heaven knows what the late, great Cus D’Amato would have gone though had he been alive to see his star pupil implode so dramatically!
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