A week out from his return to the boxing ring, Mike Tyson has lived a career full of controversy.
After starting his career as a knockout artist with just four fights going the distance in his first 37 fights — including 17 first round knockouts — Tyson lost to the unheralded Buster Douglas in Tokyo.
His life fell apart over the next 18 months, culminating with a rape conviction that saw him spend three years behind bars at the height of his career.
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But while this all goes into the legend of Tyson, arguably the biggest moment of his career came in a moment of infamy in his second fight against Evander Holyfield, when he bit the ear of the heavyweight champion.
As Tyson looks to return to the squared circle for the first time since 2005 at the age of 54 against 51-year-old four-weight world champion Roy Jones Jr. next Sunday, the spectre of Holyfield hangs over the bout with the 58-year-old waiting in the wings for a potential trilogy fight.
Tyson lost the WBA heavyweight title to Holyfield in 1996 in their first clash, when Iron Mike was handed an 11th round TKO.
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In the rematch between the pair, Tyson was again opened up by what he saw as deliberate head butts early in the fight and responded with a chomp that has overshadowed both Tyson and Holyfield’s career.
Earlier this week Tyson, promoting the Jones Jr. fight, warned he wouldn’t hold back if he was faced with dirty tactics.
“I say, ‘No, never ever again’ but I might do it again,” Tyson told Fox News of the Holyfield ear bite.
“Well if he does what he was doing to get bitten, I would bite him again, yeah.”
Although the pair have reportedly made amends for the infamous moment, the boxer known as “The Baddest Man On The Planet” remembered that he saw nothing but red in the moment.
“I bit him because I wanted to kill him,” Tyson recalled of the incident.
“I was really mad about my head being bumped and everything. I really lost consciousness of the whole fight.
“It took me out of my fight plan and everything. Listen, good or bad, I’m not going to let anyone take my glory.
“So, I’m going to confront everything that I have to confront … Hey listen, I done it. I got to handle the responsibility of it.
“That was my glory. And I took responsibility for it.”
The biting incident has become part of sporting history with the moment and the rivalry with Holyfield given the ESPN 30 for 30 treatment in the 2015 documentary Chasing Tyson.
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Holyfield’s drive to take the fight with Tyson was to move out of the immense shadow of Iron Mike.
Holyfield moved up from the cruiserweight to the heavyweight division, where he beat Douglas for the WBA, WBC and IBF heavyweight titles, previously Tyson’s, until he lost them to Riddick Bowe, three successful defences and two years later.
But despite his success, Holyfield’s achievements were always downplayed.
Tyson had reclaimed the WBA world title before the pair’s first fight, with Holyfield’s 11th round TKO coming as a stunning upset.
“When I beat Tyson, it was almost like ‘all right then, I can leave now I did what they thought was impossible’,” Holyfield said on the documentary.
“They didn’t think I could beat him and I did. I don’t have to rub it in his face, I did it. But this is for you all, this has nothing to do with Tyson, you found out that good guys can fight too.”
But despite the victory, the focus was still on Tyson and questions over whether he was the same fighter he was before he went to jail.
Early in the rematch, Tyson was cut open again, with the commentators saying: “It’s deja vu”.
Round three began and Tyson left his mouthguard out, and it was the start of a dark day for boxing.
“It doesn’t make no excuse for what happened, but I was just enraged, I was just pissed off he was such a great fighter,” Tyson said.
“Even though people didn’t give him credit for it, deep down in my heart, being his peer, if I beat him, I really would have conquered the giant. I just wanted to beat him so bad.”
The rest is history with Tyson biting Holyfield twice.
Holyfield said: “He bit me the second time and I was real mad then. Instantly I started questioning God. ‘Lord, why didn’t you let me get him’. God told me ‘if you had of bit him back, it probably end the game of boxing. Y’all are the two most high profile athletes in the world and y’all biting each other’.”
After he was disqualified, Tyson lunged at Holyfield with police and security dragging Tyson out of the ring.
In the years to come, Tyson appeared to regret the decision to bite Holyfield.
Holyfield went on to become the only four-time heavyweight champion of the world, and retired in 2011 at 48-years old.
“Once the fans of history get an idea of the guys he beat, then they’ll get a better perspective of him I’m sure,” Tyson said. “He’s got an All-Star list of victories and people who know are going to know. He should be up there in the top five, top three, he’s really a sensational fighter. His pre-eminence shouldn’t be ignored. When they do my life, when they do all the others’ lives, they’re going to see Holyfield beat us, and he beat us good too so he’s going to look pretty good.”