Mike Tyson and the Infamous Biting of Evander Holyfield’s Ear

The Rise and Fall of Tyson

Mike Tyson shot to fame in the mid-1980s with his formidable and unforgiving boxing style. He became the youngest ever World Heavyweight Champion aged just 19 in 1985 when he beat Trevor Berbick. However after just a few years at the top, a list of things started to go wrong that set the wheels in motion for the downfall of possibly the hardest hitter the boxing world had ever seen. These problems included;

  • Getting a divorced from his actress wife Robin Givens after she accused him of domestic violence
  • Firing and suing his manager
  • Two car accidents, one of which may have been a suicide attempt
  • Leaving his trainer Kevin Rooney and joining with Don King

On February 11, 1990, Tyson lost the heavyweight title to underdog James ‘Buster’ Douglas in a fight he failed to prepare for. A year later, he was accused of raping beauty contestant Desiree Washington, for which he served three years in prison.

Tyson vs. Holyfield – Part One

After his release, Tyson re-gained his titles and planned to fight Evander Holyfield, a retired former champion. On November 9, 1996 the much anticipated fight took place, the huge purse involved tempting Holyfield out of retirement. In the 11 round, underdog Holyfield caused an upset and beat Tyson on a technical knock out to win the WBA version of the title.

Tyson vs. Holyfield – Part Two

A year later on June 28, 1997 the two fighters faced each other in the ring again. Holyfield had prepared hard for the fight and came out in the first round hitting Tyson with an array of body punches, sending his opponent flailing. In the second round Holyfield, no stranger to controversial tactics in the ring, head-butted Tyson causing a cut above his right eye to open.

Holyfield’s tactics got to Tyson and in the third round he lost what little composure he had. He spat out his gum shield, pulled his opponent into him and bit a chunk out of his ear, then dramatically spat the flesh onto the canvas. The fight continued after the wound was cleaned up only for Tyson to go straight in a bite the other ear.

He was disqualified from the match and forfeited the $30 million purse, as well as failing to regain the Heavyweight Championship belt he had lost a year earlier. Despite his pleas that he only did it as a reaction to Holyfield’s consistent head-butting, after the fight Tyson was stripped of his boxing licence, though it was restored only a year later.

The two boxers met once more in 2009 on the Oprah Winfrey Show where Tyson publicly apologized for the incident to Holyfield, who agreed to forgive and forget.