15 years ago today on July 9, 1997, the Nevada State Athletic Commission unanimously voted to revoke “Iron” Mike Tyson’s boxing license for savagely biting the ears of Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield in their lucrative rematch, dubbed The Sound and the Fury, 11 days earlier on June 28 at the Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Tyson (50-6, 44 KOs), who remains at 20 the youngest man to ever win the WBC, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titles, was also fined $3 million and ordered to pay the legal costs of the hearing.
In their initial scrap in November 1996, Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs), a shopworn former four-time heavyweight titleholder who has been defeated in five of his last 12 bouts, managed to shockingly upset “Iron Mike” and capture the WBA crown by an 11th round TKO.
“I despised him so much because I admired him so much,” Tyson said of twice biting Holyfield. “I wanted to kill him. I had been jealous of him from when we were kids. I’m a spoiled brat and things weren’t going my way. I wanted to hurt him. So I bit him. I was just a f***ing mess.”
Tyson, a deserved June 2011 International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum inductee, indeed “was just a f***ing mess.”
On a given evening in the peak of his career, “Iron Mike,” an enormously skilled boxer who beautifully intertwined his outstanding hand speed and accuracy with ferocious punching power, could have knocked any prizefighter onto Queer Street.
Unfortunately, largely because of the Holyfield incident, rather than being recognized as one of the greatest pugilists ever, Tyson is considered by many onlookers as nothing more than a cannibalistic, convicted rapist.
Tyson was raised in the gritty streets of Brooklyn and his propensity for violence and crime was evident prior to adolescence.
Fortunately, Tyson was rescued from his horrific surroundings by a man named Cus D’Amato.
D’Amato, a renowned boxing manager and trainer, became Tyson’s legal guardian in 1982.
Tyson’s only father figure channeled his broiling anger and honed him into “The Baddest Man on the Planet.”
The Brooklynite and D’Amato both believed it was strictly a matter of time before he became the preeminent fighter in the world.
In 1986 at 20 years of age, Tyson brutalized Trevor Berbick (50-11-1, 33 KOs) and prevailed with a second-round TKO to fulfill his destiny.
Many focus on “Iron Mike’s” punching abilities and mistakenly dismiss the incredible defensive skills he possessed.
When Tyson’s Peek-a-Boo protection was still in vintage form, he seamlessly avoided punches while closing in to launch explosive combinations.
“Iron Mike” was basically spent when he assaulted “The Real Deal.”
By repeatedly landing illegal head butts, Holyfield ironically bullied the menacing Tyson.
“Iron Mike” subsequently snapped, got himself barred from boxing for more than a year, and was never again a genuine factor in the heavyweight landscape.
The Mike Tyson era essentially concluded against Evander Holyfield that notorious night in “Sin City.”