How Evander Holyfield’s Grandma Stopped Him From Biting Mike Tyson Back in 1997’s ‘Bite Fight’

Mike Tyson has had a long and rocky career, to say the least. People remember him for many reasons, whether it’s his one-punch knockout power, his ridiculous lifestyle, or, even his memes. That said, one of the other things that people remember Mike Tyson for was biting the ears of his opponent, Evander Holyfield.  

A look at ‘The Bite Fight’ 

Just over a year before the infamous ‘Bite Fight,’ Tyson was released from prison after serving three years for rape. In his first four comeback fights, he quickly started reclaiming his titles, at least until he fought Evander Holyfield.

They first fought in November 1996, and, after 11 rounds, Holyfield finally knocked Tyson out. This was his second loss ever in his career, and so logically, the two men scheduled a rematch for 1997.

Even though he had lost the first fight, ‘Iron Mike’ was actually the betting favorite, according to ESPN. Early in the fight though, the two men headbutted each other, and this caused a cut on Tyson’s face. ESPN said that these headbutts flipped a switch in the former champ, and it turned him into something else. 

In a fit of rage, Tyson bit a chunk of Holyfield’s right ear off and spat it to the ground. He had spat his mouthpiece out before the round started just so he could do this. The ref deducted two points from him, but before the round ended, he did it again to Holyfield’s left ear.

The ref had seen enough and so, he disqualified Tyson. ‘Iron Mike’ was still angry, and he tried to pick a fight with Holyfield, his corner, and even a police officer.

Why Evander Holyfield didn’t bite back

Instead of biting back, Holyfield simply fought back as a professional boxer would. He decided to not bite Tyson back even though he felt like he should’ve, according to Boxing Scene. In response to Tyson biting his ear the first time, Holyfield later said in a podcast, “I just remember how mad I was and how upset I was. And, you know, I realized that I was gonna bite him back.”

But he didn’t bite him back for several reasons. The first reason was because of his grandma. According to him, she said that, “They always catch the person who do it the second time.”

This, of course, was exactly what happened. The second reason was because his trainer’s dad had warned him that Tyson was going to do something crazy and that, when Tyson does that crazy thing, he should keep his cool.

The third reason was that if he had bitten Tyson back, then that would’ve really hurt boxing’s public image. It’s one thing to have an unhinged boxer like Tyson do something crazy like that, but it would’ve been something else if both men were biting each other. 

The aftermath of Mike Tyson’s bite


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Like Evander Holyfield predicted, the bite shook the world, and Tyson was banned from the sport for 18 months, according to ESPN. He was also fined $3 million, which helped give Holyfield a $35 million payday. ‘Iron Mike’ would keep fighting for a few more years, but he, like Holyfield, would eventually retire in the 2000s.

That said, while both men are retired, both men are also thinking about making a comeback. This means that a trilogy fight is possible now, but, with both men in their 50s, this would more than likely be a charity fight than a serious fight.

Of course, since Holyfield’s already beaten ‘Iron Mike’ twice, this may not be the most exciting trilogy ever. However, this trilogy fight should be better than their rematch as long as both men can keep their mouths to themselves.