Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield 2 – Looking back at the infamous ‘bite fight’ 25 years later


On June 28, 1997 one of the more bizarre moments in boxing history took place when Mike Tyson bit off a portion of Evander Holyfield’s ear in the third round of their their much anticipated rematch. Tyson was disqualified from the bout and lost his boxing license. He was later reinstated.

Tyson had started his career with a bang, breaking Rocky Marciano’s record of most consecutive wins by KO/TKO to start a career winning his first 19 fights by stoppage, a record that has since been broken by a few other fighters.

Under the tutelage of trainer Cus D’Amato, Tyson turned pro at the age of 18 and would go on to win his first world title in his 28th pro fight, a second-round TKO victory over Trevor Berbick at the age of 20, making him the youngest heavyweight champion in history.

The star power that “Iron” Mike brought to the sport of boxing has rarely been seen again. Among heavyweights, he has been a part of some of the biggest money-making fights in history. Tyson has been a part of 4 of the 6 largest gates in Nevada heavyweight boxing history.

At the time, Holyfield-Tyson II was the highest grossing PPV (1.99M buys) and the first to break $100 million in revenues. Holyfield was one of three fighters Tyson would face on multiple occasions, Donovan Ruddock and Frank Bruno being the others. He went 2-0 vs. Bruno and Ruddock but 0-2 against Holyfield.


Holyfield vs. Tyson 2 timeline

  • Both Holyfield and Tyson competed to qualify for the 1984 Olympic team, but Tyson did not make it. Holyfield was, controversially, disqualified in his semifinal bout at those games in Los Angeles against New Zealand’s Kevin Barry, after the referee ruled that Holyfield had hit Barry after the ref had called a break. The United States filed a protest, but to no avail.

  • Holyfield and Tyson agreed to fight in 1990 but Tyson’s loss to Buster Douglas derailed those plans. It was one of the biggest upsets in sport’s history.

  • They both again agreed in 1991 to a fight between them, but Tyson’s conviction for rape in 1992 indefinitely shelved the fight.

  • Tyson was released from prison in 1995 and won his first four fights before he met Holyfield in November 1996.

  • The first fight between the two was stopped in the 11th round, as Holyfield became the first fighter since Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight title three times.

  • Holyfield vs. Tyson 2 was booked as the “Sound and the Fury” for May 3, 1997, but Tyson suffered a cut over his left eye in training that postponed the fight until June 28 that year.

  • The fight took place and Ring Magazine called it the 1997 “Event of the Year”.


“The Bite Fight”

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Relive the rematch between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield on June 28, 1997, that is forever remembered as the fight where Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear.

  • Tyson was a -200 favorite (according to OddsShark) despite the TKO loss in the first fight.

  • Tyson was 34-1 (2 NC) in his career in fights that lasted 3 rounds or fewer (56 career fights).

  • Tyson had complained about numerous headbutts that were ruled incidental in their first fight. Holyfield again headbutted Tyson in the second round of their second bout, but referee Mills Lane ruled it incidental.

  • Tyson came out for the third round without his mouthpiece, but Lane ordered him to put it back in.

  • Tyson was fined $3 million, which was about 10% of the amount of money he made that night.

  • This was the last Mike Tyson fight promoted by Don King.


Tyson by the numbers

  • 3. First round KOs in heavyweight title fights (only Joe Louis has more all-time with 6).

  • 8. Fewest punches landed in a title fight win (against Michael Spinks and Carl Williams).

  • 19. Streak of KO/TKO wins to begin a career until he fought James Tillis in 1986 (Tyson won a 10th-round unanimous decision).

  • 22 First-round knockouts in his career, the second-most among fighters who have won a title.

  • 30. Defeated Marvis Frazier in 30 seconds, the fastest non-title fight knockout of Tyson’s career.

  • 44. Career knockouts, tied for 11th all-time with Larry Holmes among heavyweight champions.

  • 91. Seconds needed by Tyson to knock out Michael Spinks, the 8th-fastest fight in heavyweight championship history.


Other infamous bites in sports

  • Edgar Berlanga vs. Alexis Angulo in 2022, Top Rank on ESPN. “He was throwing elbows. I was about to do a Mike Tyson on him,” Berlanga said during his postfight interview on ESPN. “He kept throwing his elbows and pushing it out. I didn’t want to get cut.”

  • In May 2014, catcher Miguel Olivo was playing for the L.A. Dodger’s Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes. He got in a fight during a game with teammate Alex Guerrero and, during the brawl, Olivo bit off part of Guerrero’s ear. The incident eventually led to cosmetic surgery for Guerrero and signaled the end of Olivo’s baseball career.

  • South African rugby player Johan Le Roux bit New Zealand’s Sean Fitzpatrick’s ear during a real scrum in 1994. After learning of his lengthy suspension, Le Roux said, “For an 18-month suspension, I feel I probably should have torn it off.”

  • Uruguay footballer Luis Suarez bites Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

  • On Nov. 27, 2021, Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk and Los Angeles Kings forward Brendan Lemieux got into a fight. Then Tkachuk began signaling to the referees that Lemieux had bit him in the hand. After what appeared to be the initial bite, Tkachuk got a nice little sucker punch in, causing Lemieux to chomp on his hand a second and possibly a third time.

  • Central Michigan University wrestler Mike Ottinger was disqualified in the 3rd-round (consolation match) of the 2014 NCAA D-I 174-pound championship for biting his opponent, Mathew Miller, of Navy.

  • On April 24, 1983, Wayne “Tree” Rollins, of the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, bite Boston Celtic’s Danny Ainge on the finger during a scrum during Game 3 of the playoffs, and Ainge needed stitches and a tetanus shot. The next day’s the Boston Herald headline read: “Tree Bites Man.”

ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this story



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