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Biggest surprise in Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield 1997 nasty fight

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mike tyson vs evander holyfield
Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield. Photo/CGTN
  • Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield fight has a special place in boxing history of the most chaotic bouts
  • This fight went beyond a contest for the WBA heavyweight title
  • It was a titans’ clash between two radically different styles

Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield fight has a special place in boxing history of the most chaotic bouts there ever was. It was a heavyweight clash you cannot forget about, at least, not with the drama, aggression and raw emotions captured that day.

This fight went beyond a contest for the WBA heavyweight title. It was a titans’ clash between two radically different styles and a spectacle that went beyond boxing. The events of this boxing match still linger decades later, albeit from a different perspective that shocks boxing fans one time too many.


With ‘Iron Mike’ you can never stretch your imagination too far and this is the basis of Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield controversy. In a historic match on June 28, 1997, Tyson bit off a part of Holyfield’s ear at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mike. This was after Holyfield won their first fight in November 1996 via technical knockout, and the two heavyweight champions had to square off in a much-awaited rematch.

mike tyson vs evander holyfield

Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield (AP Photo/Doug Pizac, File)

Tensions increased in the third round of the rematch when Tyson became more aggressive due to Holyfield’s defensive strategies. In an unexpected turn of events, Tyson tore off a chunk of cartilage from Holyfield’s right ear by biting into it. Following a medical examination, referee Mills Lane gave Tyson two points and let the fight go on. But a few moments later, Tyson bit Holyfield’s left ear, which made Lane rule Tyson out.

The incident damaged Tyson’s reputation and resulted in serious consequences. He was fined and temporarily suspended from boxing.


Isn’t it surprising that the two heavyweight boxers enjoy cordial friendship even after Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield fiasco in Nevada? It is unimaginable but they are friends. To begin with, Tyson and Holyfield didn’t always have a cordial relationship. There was fierce competition between them especially in the lead-up to 1996 and 1997 matches infamously known as ‘The Bite Fight’.

But their hostility faded away with time. Tyson issued an apology on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009 over the incident. The 57-year-old American boxer said that he bit off Holyfield’s ear because he was extremely mad at him.

“It doesn’t make no excuse for what happened, but I was just enraged and I wanted to inflict so much pain on him. I was just pissed off that he was such a great fighter, too… I was just mad at him,” he told Winfrey. However, he expressed regret over the whole incident.

Holyfield accepted the apology saying that this was just professional rivalry. He has in the past narrated that he happened to share a hotel with Tyson during the match. They had adjacent rooms and they coincidentally walked out of their rooms at the same time the following day.

Tyson asked him “We’re good?” Holyfield responded in the affirmative and they headed for the lift together. As they embarked, he [Holyfield] told Tyson that it is dumfounding that the press only focuses on the incident while all that matters is a huge amount of money they were paid to fight. They even started a business together in 2022, producing an edible cannabis product shaped like Holyfield’s ear.


Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson. Photo/ Business Insider.

Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield fights are only two; in 1996 where Holyfield won resoundingly through technical knockout. Then, in 1997 – the ‘Bite Fight’ – which was a rematch and Tyson won.  Both WBA champions shared a light moment in February 2024. Tyson shared a photo of them hanging out 27 years after the nasty fight.

“We’ve come a long way since the bite fight,” he captioned the photo. Holyfield moments after the fight kept critics saying that he and Tyson have so much in common that the bite would hardly set them apart.

“This is a beautiful guy, me and this guy both come from basically the sewage, and we watched each other grow to become established and esteemed fighters, you know what I mean?” And I just want you to know it’s been a pleasure passing through life being acquainted with you.”

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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