The iconic moment Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear

Referee Lane Mills stopped the fight in the third round as Evander Holyfield holds his ear, as Mike Tyson looks on, on June 28, 1997 during their WBA heavyweight championship fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. , N.V.

Photo: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

Mike Tyson enjoyed a rapid rise to stardom, in 1986 he became the youngest heavyweight champion in history by beating Trevor Berbick at just 19 years old. However, by 1989, Tyson had begun a long downward spiral towards sports infamy.

His erratic behavior included marrying and divorcing actress Robin Givens (after she accused him of domestic violence), firing and suing his manager, breaking his hand in an early morning street fight, and two car accidents, one of which was allegedly a suicide attempt. Tyson also fired trainer Kevin Rooney and replaced him with notorious promoter Don King.

Unable to focus on boxing, Tyson, once considered unbeatable, lost the heavyweight title after being knocked out by James “Buster” Douglas 42-1 in a stunning upset on February 11, 1990.

In 1991, Tyson was accused of rape by Desiree Washington, a contestant in a beauty pageant that she was judging in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was sentenced on February 10, 1992 and served three years and one month in a federal penitentiary.

Once released, Tyson regained his heavyweight belts and then planned a fight with Evander Holyfield, a former religious and clean-living heavyweight champion from Georgia who was considered the best heavyweight challenger to Tyson after number one contender Lennox Lewis, whom Tyson refused to book.

Holyfield had retired in 1994, but the prospect of a big payday proved tempting, and on November 9, 1996, the underdog Holyfield shocked the boxing world by beating Tyson in a technical knockout in the eleventh round to win the WBA title from Tyson.

Holyfield came into the widely anticipated rematch on this day in 1997 even stronger than he had been in the first fight. In the first round, he hit Tyson hard with body shots as Tyson backed away from him, ignoring the science of boxing his trainer had promised him he would employ.

At the end of the round, the crowd chanted Holyfield’s name, turning on regular fan favorite Tyson. In the second round, Holyfield headbutted Tyson and opened a cut over his right eye.

in the third roundTyson lost his remaining composure, spit out his mouth guard, bit off a piece of Holyfield’s right ear and then spat it on the canvas. Although Holyfield was in obvious pain, the fight resumed after a brief interruption, and then Tyson bit Holyfield’s other ear, with 10 seconds remaining in the third round, he was disqualified.

His $30 million purse was withheld while Nevada boxing officials reviewed the fight.

Events in Tyson’s life repeatedly worsened after the fight, culminating in his bankruptcy filing, in part due to $400,000 a year spent keeping a flock of pet pigeons, and an arrest for possession of cocaine.

Keep reading: