Mike Tyson Bite Fite – Evander Holyfield June 28, 1997
Evander Holyfield keeps title by disqualification over Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson 218 lbs
Evander Holyfield 218 lbs
DQ in round 3 of 12
Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Referee: Mills Lane
Judge: Jerry Roth 26-29
Judge: Chuck Giampa 26-29
Judge: Duane Ford 26-29
World Boxing Association Heavyweight Title (1st defense by Holyfield)
Holyfield vs. Tyson II was billed as “The Sound and The Fury.”
The fight was originally scheduled for May 3, 1997, but it was postponed until June 28 due to a cut Tyson suffered over his left eye during training. The cut occurred when Tyson butted heads with a sparring partner. The postponement was announced on April 8.
Tyson was rocked in the first round by a right. In the second round, Tyson threw a right as Holyfield was starting to throw a left hook. As Tyson leaned into the punch and Holyfield ducked it, their heads came together and opened a cut over Tyson’s right eye. Referee Mills Lane called time and informed ringside officials that the cut was caused by a headbutt. After losing the first two rounds on all three official scorecards, Tyson was doing better in the third, catching Holyfield with a couple of good rights. But in the final minute of the round, while the two were tied up, Tyson bit a chunk out of Holyfield’s right ear. Holyfield stepped back and jumped in the air, twirling around. Tyson then walked up behind Holyfield and pushed him into the ropes. Lane stopped the action and deducted two points from Tyson, who told Lane that the damage to Holyfield’s ear was caused by a punch. “Bullshit!” Lane replied. When the action resumed, Tyson bit Holyfield’s left ear. At the end of the round, when Lane saw the bite mark on Holyfield’s left ear, he disqualified Tyson. In a post-fight interview with Jim Gray, Tyson claimed that the head butts were intentional by Holyfield, and the bites were retaliation.
Holyfield required eight stitches in his right ear. After the fight, an MGM Grand employee located part of Holyfield’s ear in the ring, scooped it up with Latex gloves, and took it to Holyfield’s locker-room door. “I have something he probably wants,” he told the security guard. Holyfield’s camp placed it in an ice bucket and hoped surgeons could reattach it, but it apparently was lost during the ambulance ride. “The plastic surgeon and I were digging through the ice pack and couldn’t find it,” said Tim Hallmark, Holyfield’s conditioning coach.
Holyfield vs. Tyson II was, at the time, the highest grossing boxing match in history in all categories. A crowd of 18,187 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena produced a gate of $17,277,000. Domestic pay-per-view buys totaled more than 1.99 million and generated $99,822,000. The fight was shown on closed circuit television at 1,625 locations in the United States and generated $5,959,000. The fight was also seen in 97 foreign countries and foreign sales totaled $21,240,000, which included sponsorships.
At the time of the bout, it was estimated by Showtime that Mike Tyson fights accounted for nearly 25% of all pay-per-view revenue since pay-per-view became popular in the 1980s, although most believe this percentage to be lower. It was the biggest promotion ever for Jay Larkin, who worked for Showtime from 1984 to 2005, rising from junior publicist to senior vice president and executive producer.
When Tyson got out of prison, promoter Don King got him a six-fight deal with the MGM Grand. For his part, King got 618,557 shares of MGM Grand stock. After Tyson’s license was revoked, MGM decided to severe it’s relationship with Tyson, and MGM Grand controlling owner Kirk Kerkorian bought out King’s stake in the hotel and casino for $27.5 million.
This was the last Mike Tyson fight promoted by Don King. Tyson sued Don King Productions for $100 million in 1998. They settled out of court in 2004 for $14 million, all of which was paid directly to the United States government for unpaid back taxes owed by Tyson.
Holyfield vs. Tyson II was named the second dirtiest fight of all-time in the December 1997 issue of The Ring.
“The Bite” was named the 1997 Event of the Year by The Ring.