Former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield admits he was desperate to get instant revenge on Mike Tyson when he was bitten by his fierce rival during their infamous fight in 1997.
According to the former heavyweight champion, he decided against biting Iron Mike because he feared the sport of Boxing would never recover.
Holyfield had upset the odds to knock out Iron Mike in eight months earlier in Las Vegas to win the WBA heavyweight belt but their rematch is infamously known as the ‘Bite Fight’ after Tyson was disqualified for twice biting the champion’s ear in the third round.
‘He bit me on my ear and it was just… it was something that you never thought would happen,’ Holyfield recalled to DAZN.
‘Nobody ever thinks somebody will bite their ear. Even when they showed the tape and how strong your neck is…we kinda get close to each other and it’s like I leaned my ear into his mouth [laughter].
‘He bit my ear man! I remember just how mad and upset I was. I realised that I was going to bite him back.
‘But though a part of me knew I wanted to bite him back my corner guy, Tim Hallmark, his papa had told us in the match: “This guy’s going to do something to you” and for me not to lose my cool and all that.
‘I told my trainer Tim Hallmark to remind me if that does happen. He kept telling me: “Keep your mind on the Lord” but I wanted to bite him back.
‘All of a sudden it came across my mind what my Grandmother said – “They always catch the person that do it the second time” – and so I decided not to bite him back and he bit me again!
‘Then we stop the fight and all that, but when all is said and done I did the right thing. I actually think it saved boxing.
‘I truly believe if I did what I wanted to do because I wanted to bite him right in the face like this [pints to cheek].
‘I told Mike that and he said “You really was?!” I said: “I was!” but I thought about it and then I thought about what would happen to the game of boxing, with the two best fighters biting each other, goring each other; the game might be over, we wouldn’t be talking about the game now.’
Tyson claimed the bite was in retaliation to a ‘headbutt’ from Holyfield, though the referee had judged the incident to have been accidental.
The bite saw Holyfield retain his belt.
53-year-old Tyson became the youngest world heavyweight champion when he won the title aged 20 in 1986.
His last professional fight was in 2005 when his 58th contest ended in his sixth defeat, against Irishman Kevin McBride.
Holyfield last fought professionally in 2011 when he recorded his 44th victory in 57 fights with a technical knockout against Denmark’s Brian Nielsen in Copenhagen.