Throughout Mike Tyson’s illustrious career, only one fighter was able to beat him twice. That same fighter and he became infamous for their rivalry with one another and the post-fight results that followed. Now, with rumors of the two competing in a trilogy bout, Evander Holyfield has revealed some of the secrets that allowed him to take down Tyson.
Speaking with BBC, Holyfield (44-10-2, 1 NC) discussed his game plan in his first and second fight against Tyson (50-6, 2NC). “The Real Deal” beat Tyson in November 1996 for the WBA Heavyweight Title. Holyfield was able to control the fight, beating Tyson via TKO. Tyson did not feel like himself and wasn’t able to get any sort of advantage in the later rounds. They fought one another in a rematch in 1997, with Holyfield winning via DQ. This bout was controversial due to Tyson biting the ear of Holyfield.
“I always liked to come forward, everyone thought I was gonna run from Mike, I wanted him to know I wasn’t going anywhere, that was the whole big thing,” Holyfield stated, via Daily Mail. “I felt that I had quicker hands than Mike, I felt I had the reach. I got to hit him a couple of times, when you start hitting people they start changing. Mike even said himself, ‘Everyone’s got a plan until they get hit.’ I’m one of those fighters that got hit a lot of times by some good shots, but I can take it.
“The point of the matter was Mike didn’t get hit a lot because people were kinda timid with Mike. With me I wasn’t timid, I realized he was going to hit me but I had the right to hit him back.”
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) June 5, 2020
Holyfield later revealed that he was thinking of biting Tyson as well, but his corner convinced him otherwise.
Tyson recently announced his intentions to return to the ring for charity. The 53-year-old is ready to fight for those who have gone through drug addictions and other shortcomings. “Iron” Mike hasn’t fought since losing to Kevin McBride in 2005. Holyfield announced his return to the ring for the first time since 2011. He will be fighting for #Unite4OurFight, an organization that helps overcome challenges and adversity for children and first responders. It is a huge part of The Evander Holyfield Foundation.
Tyson was on an eight-fight win streak before the Holyfield bout. A specimen in and out of the ring, Tyson would scare anyone. Holyfield, however, was ready to change it up against a man who at the time won three straight fights via knockout.
“The art of the game was to let him know that he chose the wrong person this time, because if he’s gonna get me he’s gonna have to out-work me,” Holyfield went on to say. “The thing is I had already made up my mind that I would get the last punch so when he goes back to the corner I wanted him to think about how hard I hit him. I didn’t want to go back thinking about how hard he hit me.”
In Gentleman Gerry: A Contender in the Ring, a Champion in Recovery, Gerry Cooney talks about hitting the body to weaken an opponent. He would utilize that in order to hit some of his vicious knockout shots. Holyfield knew how Tyson was all about bulling his opponents, but when it as his turn, he couldn’t fight back.
“I knew that was part of the game plan; you’ve got to push him, you’ve got to beat him to the punch,” said Holyfield. “Mike liked hitting people to the body but Mike didn’t like getting hit to the body. I know that, things that people tend to do to their opponent they don’t like it to happen to them. When I saw I hit Mike to the body, I knew it would slow him down.”
Both fighters have expressed interest in competing in a trilogy bout with one another. The waiting game is on to determine if it will actually happen.