ALSO ON SLAM!
Sunday, June 29, 1997
Champ chomped by crazed Tyson
In one of the most bizarre incidents in the history of professional boxing, Evander (The Real Deal) Holyfield retained his WBA heavyweight crown over Tyson after a near-riot erupted in the MGM Grand Garden ring and, later on, in the stands.
All hell broke loose in the third round when Holyfield reeled madly after Tyson actually bit off a small portion of Holyfield's right ear. Tyson, 30, then marched over and pushed Holyfield.
After a couple of minutes delay, following a conference between referee Mills Lane and Nevada boxing commissioner Marc Ratner, the match continued.
Both fighters lunged at one another, but Holyfield reeled again from another Tyson bite, this time to the champ's left ear.
The seconds ticked off and the round ended. But quickly after that, Lane walked over to the Tyson corner, waving his hands. The match was over.
Tyson, long the bad boy of boxing, was disqualified. And worse, he again was shamed in the eyes of the world.
"Look at the bite -- I'm missing part of my ear," said Holyfield, 34. "He fouled (me) in every way. There's no courage there whatsoever. He should put up his gloves, be brave and really want to fight."
Both boxers ended up in the hospital: Holyfield to have his ear sewn up (it was suggested by some that he'll need plastic surgery); Tyson, reportedly, the victim of head-butts. That, in fact, was Iron Mike's excuse for his actions.
"He just kept butting me," said Tyson, 45-3 with 39 KOs. "If they didn't stop it, what am I supposed to do? I wanted to fight. He didn't want to fight."
"He's got a nick on his ear. Look at me," Tyson continued. "I've got to go home to my children and they're going to be scared of me."
Holyfield's people, needless to say, were livid.
"I had the utmost respect for Mike Tyson, but he's a piece of garbage as far as I'm concerned now," said Tommy Brooks, one of Holyfield's trainers.
At the point of disqualification, the handlers of both fighters spilled into the ring and began a heated battle of their own. It became quite dangerous to all concerned, including the fighters, until Las Vegas city police moved in to break up the proceedings.
Tyson then was escorted from the ring to a chorus of catcalls and thrown objects. Halfway to the dressing room, Tyson's entourage began throwing debris back at the fans, prompting police to make some arrests.
No doubt the crowd of 16,331 -- some members of which had spent up to $1,500 for a ticket -- felt ripped off by the turn of events.
Tyson, likely frustrated by Holyfield's powerful work inside, started the third round in feisty fashion, throwing bombs at the man who defeated him for the title back on Nov. 9, 1996.
Prior to the third, Holyfield, now 34-3 with 24 KOs, had controlled the tempo, although both fighters repeatedly were warned by Lane for head-butts and holding.
At the end of the third, Holyfield led 29-26 on the scorecards.