Frozen in Time
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
JUNE 28, 1995
'Hello,' says the MGM Grand Hotel employee to the reporter. 'I have something you might like.' That something is a part of Evander Holyfield's ear.
Mike Tyson has lost the first two rounds of the World Boxing Association heavyweight title rematch in Las Vegas when the 'Baddest Man on the Planet' comes out fighting mad in the third. He hits Holyfield with several left hooks, but with 33 seconds left in the round the two come together and a furious Holyfield jumps away from a clinch howling in pain and clutching the right side of his head as he walks to his corner with blood pouring from his ear.
During the clinch Tyson, who sheds his mouthpiece, sinks his teeth into Holyfield's right ear, tearing a piece off. A doctor examines Holyfield's wound and declares he can box on.
Referee Mills Lane deducts two points from Tyson and warns him he will disqualify him if he bites Holyfield again. But when the pair clash again at the end of the round, Tyson apparently uses his teeth again, this time on the champion's left ear.
'The first bite you could actually see the teeth marks and the dent in the ear. The bite itself was cosmetically bad but the fight could go on,' Lane explains. 'They got in another skirmish and I looked at Evander's ear and I could see another bite mark and I said that's it.'
An agitated Tyson defends his actions, saying: 'He butted me in the first round and then he butted me again in the second. He kept going down and coming up . . . and no one warned him or took any points from him. What am I to do? This is my career. I can't continue getting butted like that. I got to retaliate.' And retaliate he did.
Holyfield, who whipped Tyson in their first bout eight months previously, says Tyson knew he was going to lose again and took the coward's way out. 'It's an easy way to get out of the fight, to foul, 'cause you know you're going to get disqualified,' says Holyfield. 'That don't show no courage whatsoever.'
Holyfield's trainer, Don Turner, says Mad Mike should be stripped of his US$30 million purse. 'I saw him bite his ear off. It was the most incredible thing that I've seen in all my years of boxing. I think [Tyson] should be suspended. I think he should be taken for some kind of [mental] evaluation. I think he should be fined a huge amount of money, maybe his whole purse.'
As the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspend Iron Mike and freeze his big payday, Tyson reflects on one of the most incredible and surrealistic sights in the history of boxing.
'It's tough for me to watch, it's tough for you to watch, but you watch it and joke about it. I have to watch it with disgust, disdain, it's my humiliation,' he says. 'That was just striking out in pure hatred. For that one moment I just forgot he was a human being.'