What was supposed to be the night of "The Sound and the Fury," became one of the most memorable and bizarre moments in boxing history.
The 1997 WBA Heavyweight Championship face-off between The Real Deal Evander Holyfield versus Iron Mike Tyson, held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, was highly anticipated. The two had gone head to head for world heavyweight title in the previous year. Holyfield famously defeated Tyson in a shocking upset.
Leading up to the match, Tyson was painted as one of the most vicious and intimidating fighters, in the boxing world and beyond. No one wanted to fight him, and no one who could was able to defeat him.
Holyfield entered the ring in 1997 as the underdog, coming back after a brief retirement, while Tyson was the defending champion, defeating Bruce Seldon in a first-round knockout.
The fight began with Tyson charging his fist straight for Holyfield, but as the match went on, it was clear Holyfield did not fear his opponent, showing up with stamina, strength, and clarity. Holyfield hit Tyson with a strong head butt in round 2, leaving him with a very bloody right eye, and Tyson, frustrated, began to panic.
In the third-round, a frustrated Tyson took not one, but two bites of Holyfield's ears, taking off an entire chunk. After a moment of confusion, referee Mills Lane, disqualified Tyson and the title was given to Holyfield.
Shocked and disturbed, media speculations on the incident went rampant. Many believed he knew he wouldn't win and preferred to disqualify out of the match than lose fairly. The incident became a spectacle of the sport of professional boxing, but more intensely for the two professional boxers, sweeping headlines across the globe.
In 2016, Mike Tyson appeared on Oprah, nineteen years after the incident. Reflecting on the incident, he speaks remorsefully to Holyfield, saying, "We watched each other grow to become established and distinct fighters," taking his competitor's hand and shaking it.
Boxing in popular culture has dwindled, and there are many who blame the Bite Fight for discrediting its integrity. Though, much of the sport's appeal is its brutality. While every sport has moments of infamy, none compare to the Sound and the Fury.
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