June 28, 1997. It’s a day that lives in sports infamy. It’s a day that shocked the sports world. It’s the day Mike Tyson bit a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear and was disqualified. More than 20 years later, and there’s still one question everyone wants to know the answer—what happened to the chunk of Evander Holyfield‘s ear?
Mike Tyson bites Evander Holyfield
The MGM Grand in Las Vegas was the center of the sports universe that June evening. The atmosphere was buzzing as everyone expected an epic bout in the rematch between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.
Holyfield dominated Tyson in the first two rounds. With under a minute remaining in the second round, Holyfield ducked under a Tyson right hand and head-butted his opponent, opening up a gash over Tyson’s right eye. Tyson was visibly upset by the incident and later said it was the reason for the way he responded.
In the third round, Tyson came out the aggressor. He attacked Holyfield with numerous body shots. With just under a minute remaining, Holyfield clinched Tyson to minimize the attack. That’s when Tyson, inexplicably, rolled his head over Holyfield’s shoulder and chomped down on his ear.
Holyfield began frantically jumping and screaming in pain as referee Mills Lane sent Tyson to a neutral corner and called for a time-out. After Lane consulted with the ring-side doctor, he deducted two points from Tyson, and ordered the fight to resume.
Moments later, Tyson bit Holyfield’s other ear. At the conclusion of the round when Lane learned of the second bite, he disqualified Tyson.
What happened to the piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear?
Years later, Holyfield said in the immediate aftermath, he wasn’t sure what had happened but assumed the worst based on the pain he had experienced.
“I thought my ear had fallen off. Look at the bite. I’m missing part of my ear. I just couldn’t believe it—they have rules and regulations for this.”
After the fight, an MGM Grand employee spotted the piece of Holyfield’s ear in the ring, picked it up with Latex gloves, and headed straight to Holyfield’s locker room. Holyfield’s team wrapped the quarter- to half-inch long piece of his ear in the Latex glove, placed it in an ice bucket, and hoped surgeons could reattach it later that night. Mysteriously, the piece of Holyfield’s ear disappeared during the ambulance ride.
Doctors performed a 90-minute surgical procedure that included eight stitches to close up the wound, but unfortunately weren’t able to reattach the missing portion. Holyfield’s left ear was bruised but remained intact.
Commercial reunites Holyfield and Tyson
Despite the gruesome incident, Tyson and Holyfield have made amends and discussed the ear-biting episode in numerous interviews. The pair have become so comfortable with the bizarre event they joked about it in a 2013 Foot Locker commercial.
In the advertisement, which features multiple scenarios where athletes make things right, Tyson shows up to Holyfield’s house with a surprise gift.
“I’m sorry, Evander,” Tyson says as he hands a small box to Holyfield. “It’s your ear. I kept that in formaldehyde.” The two then exchange a hug with Tyson once again precariously close to Holyfield’s ear.
It’s a humorous perspective to what many considered to be one of the most gruesome moments in sports history. All’s well that ends well.