Exactly 20 Years Ago Today, Mike Tyson Bit Off a Piece of Evander Holyfield’s Ear
Holyfield dominated Tyson throughout the first two rounds, where Tyson made numerous complaints about intentional head butting, one of which opened a large cut over his right eye. Referee Mills Lane ruled them as unintentional upon reviewing replays. This clearly did not sit well with Tyson as he entered the third round without his mouth piece and was ordered to return to his corner and insert it before the fight continued.
Tyson began the third round with flurry of attacks but was still being outclassed by Holyfield. With 40 seconds left on the clock, Tyson rolled his head above Holyfield’s shoulder while in the clinch and took a bite out of his right ear, spitting a one-inch piece of cartilage on the canvas. A time-out was called as Holyfield yelled in pain and began to bleed profusely.
As this was an unprecedented incident, referee Mills Lane delayed the fight to deliberate the consequences and settled on a two point deduction after the ringside doctor cleared Holyfield to continue fighting.
Shortly after, Tyson bit Holyfield’s left ear, but the fight continued until the bell. Once both fighters were back in their respective corners and the second bite was realized, the fight was stopped with Tyson being disqualified. Tyson maintained that the bites were retaliation for the numerous headbutts.
This incident resulted in Tyson’s boxing license being canceled indefinitely by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and he was fined $3 million plus a stint of community service. Tyson appealed in court and his license was reinstated just over a year later.
Tyson later apologized to Holyfield on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Holyfield accepted his apology and the two are now close friends to this day.
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