Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield: The Infamous Bite Fight

Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield: The Infamous Bite Fight

The boxing match Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield, known as the Sound and the Fury, took place on June 28, 1997. It was a highly anticipated bout for the WBA Heavyweight Championship. However, what unfolded during the fight would forever etch it in boxing history as one of the most peculiar and controversial matches of all time. In this article, we will delve into the background, the match itself, and the aftermath of the infamous Bite Fight.


Seven months prior to their rematch, Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas. Tyson, the reigning WBA champion, was defending his title against Holyfield, who had previously held the title. Despite being considered an underdog, Holyfield surprised the boxing world by dominating Tyson throughout the match. In the sixth round, Holyfield even managed to knock Tyson down. The fight was eventually stopped in the eleventh round, with Holyfield securing a remarkable upset victory.

When the rematch was scheduled, there was controversy surrounding the selection of the referee. Mitch Halpern, who officiated the first fight, was initially chosen as the referee. However, Tyson’s camp objected to Halpern, alleging bias due to his handling of the head clashes between Holyfield and Tyson in their previous bout. The Nevada State Athletic Commission ruled against Tyson’s objection, but Halpern voluntarily withdrew from the fight days before. In his place, Mills Lane, an experienced referee who had officiated both Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield in previous fights, was appointed as the referee for the rematch.

The Match: Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield II

The highly anticipated rematch Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield began with Holyfield taking control of the fight. He won the first three rounds, displaying his dominance over Tyson. In the first round, Holyfield landed a powerful overhand right punch that stunned Tyson. However, Tyson quickly fought back, pushing Holyfield backward. In the second round, Holyfield ducked under a right punch from Tyson but accidentally head-butted him, causing a large cut over Tyson’s right eye.

The Match: Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield II

As the third round was about to commence, Tyson entered the ring without his mouthpiece. Referee Mills Lane ordered him back to his corner to insert it. Once Tyson was ready, the match resumed, and Tyson launched a furious attack in the third round. However, with forty seconds remaining, Holyfield clinched with Tyson, and Tyson retaliated by biting Holyfield’s right ear. A piece of cartilage, approximately one inch in size, was torn off Holyfield’s ear, which Tyson spat out onto the ring apron.

Holyfield reacted in pain, leaping into the air and spinning in a circle while bleeding profusely from the bite wound. Lane intervened, separating the fighters, and went to assess the situation. After consulting with the ringside physician, Lane decided to allow the fight to continue. However, he penalized Tyson with a two-point deduction for the bite. Tyson contested the decision, claiming the injury was caused by a punch, but Lane dismissed his argument.

Incredibly, during another clinch, Tyson bit Holyfield’s left ear. Although this bite did not cause significant damage, it added to the already shocking nature of the match. Lane did not stop the fight at that moment, and the bout continued until the end of the round. Once the second bite was discovered, the match was halted again.

Post-Fight Unrest

After the fight was officially stopped, Tyson became uncontrollable and went on a rampage towards Holy. After the fight was officially stopped, Tyson became uncontrollable and went on a rampage towards Holyfield’s corner, attempting to confront him. Security and officials quickly intervened to prevent any further escalation. The crowd erupted in shock and disbelief, with boos and jeers filling the arena.

The aftermath of the infamous Bite Fight was filled with controversy and repercussions. The Nevada State Athletic Commission launched an investigation into the incident, and Tyson’s boxing license was temporarily suspended. The incident tarnished Tyson’s reputation and further fueled the public’s perception of him as a volatile and unpredictable athlete.

In the weeks following the fight, Tyson issued public apologies for his actions. He attributed his behavior to a moment of frustration and claimed that he had felt provoked by Holyfield’s headbutts earlier in the match. However, the biting incident was widely condemned by the boxing community and the public, leading to severe consequences for Tyson.

In October 1997, the Nevada State Athletic Commission held a hearing to address the incident. Tyson’s boxing license was revoked, and he was fined $3 million. Moreover, Tyson’s actions in match Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield had a lasting impact on his boxing career. It would be more than a year before he was granted a new license and allowed to compete professionally again.

On the other hand, Holyfield emerged from the incident as a respected figure. Despite the brutal nature of the fight, he displayed composure and sportsmanship throughout the ordeal. Holyfield’s victory over Tyson, coupled with his ability to handle the situation with grace, solidified his status as one of boxing’s great champions.

In 1999, Tyson and Holyfield met again in the ring for a highly anticipated rematch. This time, the fight ended in controversy once more, as Tyson was disqualified for intentionally fouling Holyfield by biting him on the ear. The incident only further cemented the legacy of the infamous Bite Fight and the tumultuous relationship between the two boxers.

Over the years, the Bite Fight has remained a significant moment in boxing history, often cited as one of the sport’s most bizarre and unforgettable events. It serves as a reminder of the intensity, drama, and unpredictability that can unfold within the boxing ring, capturing the attention of both hardcore boxing fans and casual observers alike.

In conclusion, the Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield rematch will forever be remembered as the Bite Fight. While their first encounter was already a highly anticipated bout, it was the shocking and controversial biting incidents that took center stage. The aftermath of the fight led to consequences for Tyson and further elevated Holyfield’s reputation. The Bite Fight remains a lasting testament to the wild and unpredictable nature of boxing, etching its place in the annals of sports history.

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