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The day Mike Tyson bit a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear off

In a WBA Heayweight Championship rematch in 1997, Tyson stunned the watching world by biting a piece of Evander Holyfield's right ear off.

The day Mike Tyson bit a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear off

Boxing legend Mike Tyson returns to the ring this weekend to face another 50-something former heavyweight champion, Roy Jones Jr, in an exhibition fight at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Tyson and Jones to face off in eight-round fight officially dubbed "sparring"

Tyson, 54, will take on Jones, 51, in an eight-round bout that has been officially labelled as “sparring” by the California Athletic Commission, in attempt to discourage the contenders from going for a knockout.

As a further safety precaution, each round will last two minutes rather than the usual three in men’s boxing, despite the complaints of both fighters. "I'm sure they have their reasons for doing it,” Tyson said in October. “The women fight for two minutes.” Jones added: "Like he said, that's for women […]. I don't understand that.”

The Tyson-Jones fight card also features three other warm-up bouts, including a cruiserweight clash between YouTuber Jake Paul and basketball player Nate Robinson.

Tyson-Holyfield bout had been on the table - over two decades on from the infamous 'Bite Fight'

Saturday’s match-up with Jones, which goes ahead after being postponed from its initial September date due to the coronavirus, comes after Tyson’s team failed to negotiate a mooted third fight with Evander Holyfield - 23 years on from the pair’s infamous rematch for the WBA Heavyweight Championship.

Known as the ‘Bite Fight’, the contest on 28 June 1997 passed into sporting infamy when Tyson was disqualified after biting both Holyfield’s ears - and taking a piece out of one of them.

After surprisingly losing to Holyfield in the pair’s first WBA title match at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas in November 1996, Tyson’s chance for revenge came when they met again at the same venue seven months later. However, he found himself being dominated in the opening rounds and, having also suffered a large cut over his right eye from a headbutt (deemed unintentional by referee Mills Lane), ‘Iron Mike’ saw red.

In round three, Tyson stunned the watching world by removing his mouthpiece and biting a chunk out of Holyfield’s right ear when they came together in a clinch, spitting the piece out on to the canvas. After a stoppage, the fight resumed - and Tyson proceeded to bite Holyfield’s other ear, this time doing less damage.

Tyson banned for 18 months and fined

When Holyfield showed the marks from the second bite to his corner at the end of the round, the fight was stopped by Lane and Tyson was disqualified, later receiving an 18-month ban and being fined $3m of his $30m purse. Holyfield required eight stitches in his right ear.

In his book Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography, Tyson later revealed that he “wanted to kill” Holyfield after being headbutted by him. “I just wanted to kill him,” he said. “Anybody watching could see that the headbutts were so overt. I was furious, I was an undisciplined soldier and I lost my composure. So I bit him in the ear."

Tyson added that he had to be restrained from continuing to attack Holyfield even after the bout was stopped. "People were pulling me and blocking me and [Holyfield] was standing in his corner, huddled up,” he said. “I was still trying to get at him. I had 50 people on me and I was still fighting the cops."

Holyfield: "I just couldn't believe it"

"I thought my ear had fallen off," Holyfield said post-fight. "Look at the bite. I'm missing part of my ear. I just couldn't believe it - they have rules and regulations for this."

Tyson gives chunk of ear back to Holyfield in jokey 2013 ad

The two boxers have since made up, and in 2013 appeared together in a light-hearted Footlocker advert in which Tyson gives the piece of Holyfield’s ear back to his former foe:


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