‘I Wanted To Bite Him Back’ – Holyfield Reflects On Controversial Tyson Fight
On June 28, 1997, one of the most controversial moments in boxing history took place as Mike Tyson bit the ear of Evander Holyfield twice. While Holyfield ended up pushing Tyson away, he didn’t do anything to hurt “Iron” Mike, as it ended up being the latter who went on a rampage after the bout. Tyson claimed it was due to early accidental headbutts that angered him.
While Holyfield has since forgiven Tyson, that doesn’t mean that he had thoughts of exacting revenge. Speaking with Chris Mannix on his Sports Illustrated boxing podcast, Holyfield stated that he would have had his own biting moment if it wasn’t for someone in his corner to calm him down.
“He bit my ear, man, and I just remember how mad I was and how upset I was,” Holyfield stated, via Boxing Scene. “And, you know, I realized that I was gonna bite him back. But [at] the point of me knowing that I was gonna bite him back, my corner guy named Tim Hallmark, because his papa had told us that in the match that this guy gonna do something to you and, you know, for me not to lose my cool and all that. He told me to keep my mind on the lord.”
Several minutes passed following the first bite, as nobody knew what to do. Tyson was deducted two points and the fight continued. Holyfield had a feeling, however, that something else would happen. Remembering what Hallmark stated, as well as something a family member told him, helped keep the normally calm but dangerous Holyfield at bay.
“And so, I told my trainer, Tim Hallmark, to remind me if that do happen. And he kept calling and telling me, ‘Keep your mind on the lord.’ I didn’t wanna keep my mind on the lord. I wanted to bite him back. And but, then all of a sudden it came across my mind what my grandmama said – they always catch the person who do it the second time,” Holyfield went on to say. “So, I decided not to bite him back. And he bit me again. Yeah, he bit me again. Then, you know, Mills Lane, he stopped the fight and all that.”
Recently, Holyfield announced his intentions to return to the boxing ring for charity. Holyfield stated 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. This will be the first time back in the ring since 2011.
Holyfield’s announcement comes after Mike Tyson announced his intentions to return to the ring. Both have an interest in facing off against one another, but it is unknown if Holyfield will be the name Tyson announces when he makes his decision.
Since the prime of both fighters and after they retired, boxing has seen a boom in rising stars. Holyfield believes, however, if he did retaliate, the sport wouldn’t see the growth it has been able to have following that night in 1997.
“I truly believe that if I would’ve did what I wanted to, I was gonna bite him right there in that face,” Holyfield said. “And I told Mike that, and he said, ‘You really was?’ And I said, ‘I was.’ I said, ‘But Tim kept hollering to me to keep your mind on the lord.’
“And I said I thought about that what would’ve probably happened to the game of boxing if the two best fighters biting each other, goring each other, and you know, the game may be over. We wouldn’t even be talking about the game now.”