In full flow, there were few sporting spectacles that combined balletic grace and animalistic power quite like Mike Tyson in his prime.
The self-styled ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ dominated the heavyweight boxing division in a decade-long reign of terror, and barring one shock loss to Buster Douglas he won 45 fights in a row – 39 by way of knockout.
And then this previously unstoppable machine ran into Evander Holyfield, four years his senior and already a two-time heavyweight champion of the world.
Their two bouts in 1996 and ’97 were entertaining, brutal and controversial – the second fight, and spoiler alert time, was ended when Tyson bit a chunk out of Holyfield’s ear.
Fast forward 25 years or so, and both men have returned to the gym.
Tyson, now 53, looks in extraordinary shape, putting men half his age to shame. A clip was shared on social media of him hitting the pads of MMA trainer Rafael Cordeiro, and the trademark power and hand speed was terrifyingly evident – in fact, it was like being transported back to the 1990s.
It’s unlikely that he would be granted a licence to box again, however he could lace up his gloves for exhibitions and charity fights – and that makes a third fight against Holyfield something of a possibility.
And the timing could not be better: the ‘Real Deal’ has also announced he is coming out of retirement to take part in charity fights for the Unite 4 Our Fight foundation.
“The moment you’ve all been waiting for….The Champ is back,” Holyfield revealed on his Twitter feed. “I will be fighting in exhibition matches for a great cause. I’m training to promote a charity that’s very close to me.”
Tyson vs Holyfield III? It seems a distinct possibility, and a bout that would have global interest and raise millions for charity. Ironically, the two men are actually good friends these days, which may also be a stumbling block!
Meanwhile, the promoter Brian Amatruda has launched an audacious bid to bring Tyson to Australia, hoping to sell out Melbourne Arena or Princes Park by pitting the former heavyweight champ against Sonny Bill Williams, Barry Hall or Paul Gallen – all Oceanic rugby stars who have since turned to boxing.
But the appetite for Tyson vs Holyfield has grown even stronger with their recent gym activity….
A Rivalry for the Ages
In what was a stellar time for the heavyweight division with the likes of Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe in the mix, Tyson vs Holyfield was the fight that fans of the sweet science couldn’t wait to see.
The brawler vs the technician, as it was billed, was actually much more than that: Tyson has plenty of in-ring chops to go with his brutality, while Holyfield wasn’t the shy of the dark arts either despite being a highly-skilled pugilist.
The first fight, held at the MGM Grand, pitted peak Tyson against a disillusioned Holyfield, who had lost two of his previous three fights and who had temporarily retired from the sport in 1994.
But the big occasion seemed to bring something out of the underdog, who rolled back the years to give Tyson something of a boxing lesson. While accusations of continuous headbutting came from the Tyson camp, Holyfield was good value for his eleventh round KO victory.
There was plenty of bad blood heading into the rematch, which took place in Las Vegas less than a year after the first. Angry at Holyfield’s alleged headbutting, Tyson came out like a whirling dervish and the fight was halted when he appeared to bite his opponent on the ear.
After the bout was resumed, Tyson bit harder and severed Holyfield’s ear – resulting in an instant disqualification. It was the first heavyweight title bout to end in a DQ in more than 50 years.
|Date||Location||Winner||Loser||Method of Victory|
|28th Jun 1997||MGM Grand, Las Vegas||Evander Holyfield||Mike Tyson||Disq.|
|9th Nov 1996||MGM Grand, Las Vegas||Evander Holyfield||Mike Tyson||TKO|
It was the beginning of the end for both men as top-level fighters, but boy it was fun while it lasted.