Mike Tyson’s rivalry with Evander Holyfield which ended with ear in formaldehyde
Mike Tyson returns to the boxing ring this weekend to face Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition bout.
Iron Mike hung up his gloves 2005 after successive defeats and a gradual decline at the age of 38.
But the former heavyweight would champion is back for an eight-round exhibition this Saturday in Los Angeles against fellow old-timer Jones Jr, whose last fight came in 2018.
Jones Jr is not the man Tyson is most famous for fighting though, with his two highly controversial bouts against Evander Holyfield living longest in the memory for the incredible scenes witnessed in the rematch.
Few can forget that Tyson bit a chunk out of his opponent's ear, and the bitter rivals still haven't forgotten, meeting several years later in a scene where Tyson appeared to give Holyfield back his own anatomy.
Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield I
The pair first met before the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, with the latter going on to win a bronze medal while Tyson missed out on selection.
Instead, within two years he became the youngest-ever heavyweight world champion by beating Trevor Berbick and then unified the division in 1987.
Meanwhile, Holyfield began as a light-heavyweight before graduating to cruiserweight and becoming the first man to unify the relatively new division.
Holyfield jumped up to heavyweight in 1988 and was in line to fight Tyson soon after, but Iron Mike’s shock defeat to Buster Douglas put a delay in proceedings, as did his six year prison sentence for rape.
They finally met professionally in 1996 when Tyson held the WBA title and Holyfield was in the fourth fight of his own comeback.
The Las Vegas bout ended with an upset in Holyfield’s favour in the 11th round with Tyson out on his feet by the tenth.
The aftermath of the fight was marred by accusations of frequent headbutts from Tyson’s camp, though they were ruled as accidental by the referee.
Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield II – The Bite Fight
The rematch took place just six months later as one of the most iconic moments in the history of boxing played out.
The topic of head-butting during their first fight came to the fore once again, and Tyson suffered a cut above his right eye when they clash again.
But as predicted the night before by his former trainer Teddy Atlas, the challenger took his prediction of "trying to disqualify himself either by elbowing, throwing a low blow, butting or biting" perhaps a little too far.
With Holyfield’s punch resistance keeping him upright amid his compatriot's speed and power, Tyson restored to the bizarre approach of taking a bite out of his rival's left ear.
Blood spewed from the side of his head, but referee Mills Lane allowed the fight to continue following a short break and a deduction of two points for Tyson.
As the fight continued, Tyson got more desperate, and took another bite, this time on Holyfield’s other ear, dislodging a chunk around half-an-inch wide, before he was finally disqualified.
An in-ring scuffle broke out, while Holyfield was forced to go to hospital and Tyson was banned banned him from boxing for 15 months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Tyson and Holyfield appear to have buried the hatchet since, and even made reference to the incident in a hilarious advert for ESPN in 2013.
The former arrives at the latter’s home, and apologies for biting his ear, explaining he kept it protected, and handing it over in a jar of formaldehyde.
Tyson has also revealed that the pair speak from time to time.
He told the Sunday Times Magazine: "I see Evander every now and again. We actually did an ESPN commercial together, and I gave him his ear back in formaldehyde."
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