Mike Tyson bites Evander Holyfield in their 1997 heavyweight title rematch
Evander Holyfield has revealed he wanted to bite Mike Tyson in the face after having a chunk of his ear bitten off by the New Yorker in their 1997 rematch.
With forty seconds remaining in the third round of their WBA heavyweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Tyson shocked the world by sinking his teeth into the champion’s right ear.
Tyson, who was bidding to avenge his TKO loss to the Atlanta native, bit so hard on Holyfield’s ear that he tore off a one-inch piece of cartilage, which he proceeded to spit on the floor.
Unsurprisingly, Holyfield shrieked in agony, put his glove to his ear and leaped up in the air, an image which to this day is still one of the most iconic in boxing history.
And after a brief intermission and deducting two points from the challenger, referee Mills Lane shockingly restarted the contest, which resulted in Tyson biting ‘The Real Deal’ again.
Although he managed to stay composed on the night, Holyfield was seething with rage – so much so he wanted to exact revenge on his rival by sinking his own teeth into him.
“Biting him back,” Holyfield said during an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast when asked what his initial reaction to the first was. “I’m serious. I was getting ready to bite the daylights out of him. And I was going to bite him in his face. I wasn’t going to wait for the ear. I was going to get the fat stuff.
“You know, when you’re from the ghetto, they say, ‘If you do something, you’ve got to do it worse than what they did [to you]’. And I told Mike on a talk show, I said, ‘No, I was pretending like I was hurt real bad. But I was going to trip you up and bite you right in your face’. Everybody knows what I was going to do.”
Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield twice in their rematch
Mike Tyson bit a one-inch chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s right ear
I was getting ready to bite the daylights out of him. And I was going to bite him in his face.
Holyfield, 56, had an inkling Tyson would attempt to do something to him in the fight.
He said: “This prophet told us before the fight, he told me, he said, ‘Look, he’s going to do something in your face area. But you’ve got to stay focused.
“Because if you don’t stay focused, that’s the only way he’s going to get you’. So with him biting my ear… man, I knew I was getting ready to bite him back.
“But my corner person kept telling me to keep my mind on the lord. And because the prophet told me the only he can get you to get into your mind – he’s going to do something to you in your face – I thought he was going to hit me with an elbow, a headbutt or anything like that. I never ever thought in my life he’d bite me on the ear.”
Evander Holyfield wanted to bite Mike Tyson back
Mike Tyson pushes Evander Holyfield for complaining about the first bite
Although he wanted to even the score, Holyfield knew he’d find himself in more trouble if he followed suit.
“It hurt so bad,” Holyfield said when recalling the pain. “People [ask], ‘How bad did it hurt?’ I said, ‘Did you see how high I jumped?’ It hurt so bad. My corner guy, Tim Hallmark, kept telling me, ‘Keep my mind on the lord’. And I ain’t wanna hear that. Even though he was saying that, I was just trying to remember that [I had to] get him. I wanted to bite him. I really wanted to bite him back.
“And then all of sudden, it hit my mind that they always catch the second person. I’m the one that people would do something to me and they would always catch me. And I’m the only one to get caught all the time because they’d always catch me trying to get the get back. So revenge is the lord. So you don’t go get the get back because you’ll go get caught.”
Holyfield was disappointed he didn’t get the chance to dish out any retribution, saying: “He bit me twice. He bit me when we went back in, he thought I was going to be scared. And he saw that I caught him with these two shots and he bit me again.
Evander Holyfield forgave Mike Tyson as soon as he made it back to the changing rooms
“I jumped back and I was just getting ready to kick him in the balls and the bell rung and I went back into the corner and I was so doggone mad I was really going to get him. And then they stopped the fight. And then I got mad because they stopped the fight.”
Twenty-two years removed from the famous incident, four-time heavyweight champion Holyfield bears any ill will towards Tyson, who he forgave as soon as he returned to the changing rooms.
He said: “By the time I got to the locker room and everybody had started complaining, ‘ I can’t believe he did this, this and this’. I said, ‘Look, did he bite you?’
“They said, ‘No.’ ‘Well okay, he bit me, right?’ And I said, ‘I’m going to forgive him. And you know what, y’all got to forgive him too.’ They said,’ What you mean forgive him?’ I said, ‘He didn’t bite you, he bit me’. So I said, ‘I’m going to forgive him.’”