Boxing Bite: A Brief History of One of Boxing’s Most Controversial Moments

Boxing has always been a sport known for its intense rivalries, fierce punches, and unforgettable moments inside the ring. Yet, among all the dramatic clashes and knockouts, one particular moment stands out for all the wrong reasons – the infamous Boxing Bite. In this article, we delve into the history of this controversial incident and its lasting impact on the sport.

The Infamous Tyson vs. Holyfield Bite

The Boxing Bite refers to a shocking incident that occurred during the WBA Heavyweight Championship bout between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield on June 28, 1997, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. This highly anticipated rematch took a bizarre and disturbing turn during the third round.

In a moment of frustration, Mike Tyson, known for his volatile temper, inexplicably bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a clinch. Chaos ensued in the ring as Holyfield recoiled in pain, and the referee, Mills Lane, immediately called a timeout to assess the damage. The shocking images of Holyfield’s bleeding ear were broadcast to millions of viewers worldwide, leaving an indelible mark on the sport of boxing.

The Fallout and Penalties

Following the Boxing Bite incident, the referee disqualified Mike Tyson from the match, awarding the victory to Evander Holyfield. The Nevada State Athletic Commission later revoked Tyson’s boxing license and imposed a hefty fine of $3 million. Additionally, Tyson faced a suspension from professional boxing that lasted over a year.

The incident ignited a storm of controversy and outrage within the boxing community and beyond. Fans, pundits, and fellow athletes condemned Tyson’s actions, labeling it a disgrace to the sport. The Boxing Bite became a symbol of unsportsmanlike conduct, and Tyson’s reputation took a severe hit.

Legacy and Impact on Boxing

The Boxing Bite remains one of the most notorious moments in the history of professional boxing, a dark stain on the sport’s image. It was a stark reminder of how emotions and tempers can boil over in the heat of competition, leading to actions that transcend sportsmanship.

Despite the disgraceful nature of the incident, it also played a significant role in drawing attention to the sport. The controversy surrounding Tyson’s actions generated headlines worldwide, and the subsequent suspension only added to the intrigue. When Tyson returned to the ring, his matches attracted even more viewers eager to witness his comeback or downfall.

Redemption and Beyond

Mike Tyson, over time, sought redemption both inside and outside the boxing ring. He made efforts to control his temper and focused on his boxing career. His return fights generated significant interest and revenue, although he never fully recaptured his former glory.

In the years that followed, Tyson’s image underwent a transformation. He became a pop culture icon, appearing in movies, television shows, and even launching a successful podcast. His openness about his past mistakes and struggles endeared him to a new generation of fans, some of whom may not have been aware of the Boxing Bite incident.


The Boxing Bite is a dark and unforgettable chapter in the history of professional boxing. While it stained the sport’s reputation at the time, it also served as a catalyst for conversations about sportsmanship, temper control, and the emotional toll of high-stakes competition.

Today, the incident is a reminder that even in the most intense moments of competition, athletes must adhere to the principles of fair play and respect. The Boxing Bite may forever be associated with Mike Tyson, but it also serves as a lesson for all athletes about the consequences of losing control in the heat of the moment.