Today In History: Mike Tyson Bites Off Holyfield’s Ear
Today in 1997, Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear in the midst of a boxing match. It was one of the most (in)famous moments in all of modern sports.
The fight, originally called “The Sound and the Fury” but later revised to “The Bite Fight,” was for the WBA Heavyweight Championship. Tyson was disqualified for the bite and temporarily lost his boxing license.
The match occurred at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The bite came in the third round.
Tyson was already known as one of the fiercest fighters in histoy. He became the youngest heavyweight champion ever when he defeated Trevor Berbick in 1986. Tyson was only nineteen years old at the time. He soon came to be known for his outlandish personality and violent temperament.
“Iron” Mike Tyson had the reputation of being invincible in the ring. In 1990, he was defeated by James Douglas. It was a completely unexpected win for Douglas, a major underdog. The next year, Tyson was accused of raping Desiree Washington and then convicted in 1992. He spent three years and a month in prison.
He was released and got his heavyweight belts back. The Evander Holyfield match was next. Holyfield was considered the best opponent for Tyson short of Lennox Lewis, who Tyson refused to fight. Holyfield was actually already retired, but was lured back into the ring by the promise of an enormous purse. Holyfield scored a major upset when he beat Tyson in their first match in 1996.
The rematch occurred today in 1997. Tyson fought wildly, and erratically. Holyfield had the crowd’s favor, who chanted his name. In the second round, Holyfield headbutted his opponent, making him bleed from above the eye.
Round three saw Tyson lose it. He spit out his mouthpiece, clamped onto Holyfield’s ear, removed a part of it, and then spit it out. Remarkably, the fight did not end. After a brief pause, they were back at it. Tyson bit Holyfield’s other ear and then was finally disqualified.
Tyson’s career and personal life spiraled after the fight. His image has been polished in recent years, after a cameo in The Hangover brought him back into the public eye. He has released a memoir, performs a one-man show and is frequently tapped for sports commentary.