Evander Holyfield admits he wanted to bite Mike Tyson back
MANILA, Philippines—Evander Holyfield’s second fight against Mike Tyson could’ve seen more bite marks if not for the wisdom of one of the cornermen.
Talking to Chris Mannix in Sports Illustrated’s Boxing podcast, Holyfield said he was about to retaliate when Tyson bit his ears in the third round of their infamous second bout on June 28, 1997.
Just when Holyfield was about to sink his own teeth on Tyson, one of his cornermen Tim Hallmark shouted at him to “keep my mind on the Lord.”
“He bit my ear, man, and I just remember how mad I was and how upset I was,” said Holyfield in the podcast. “And, you know, I realized that I was gonna bite him back. But [at] the point of me knowing that I was gonna bite him back, my corner guy named Tim Hallmark, because his papa had told us that in the match that this guy gonna do something to you and, you know, for me not to lose my cool and all that. He told me to keep my mind on the lord.”
Tyson first bit a chunk off Holyfield’s left ear prompting referee Mills Lane to momentarily put a stop to the action, but once the fighting resumed Iron Mike quickly gave another forceful nibble on the latter’s left one.
Sensing a retaliation coming, Hallmark then shouted at his fighter to be the better man.
“He kept calling and telling me, ‘keep your mind on the Lord.’ I didn’t wanna keep my mind on the lord. I wanted to bite him back. And but, then all of a sudden it came across my mind what my grandmama said – they always catch the person who do it the second time. So, I decided not to bite him back,” said Holyfield who went on to walk away with the WBA World heavyweight title after three rounds.
“He [Tyson] bit me again. Yeah, he bit me again. Then, you know, Mills Lane, he stopped the fight and all that.”
Holyfield, 23 years after the bout, was thankful that he didn’t let his emotions get the best of him and that his restraint, he said, ultimately saved boxing.
He even told Tyson, who is now become a close friend of his, that he was actually going to bite him back if not for Hallmark’s words.
“I truly believe that if I would’ve did what I wanted to, I was gonna bite him right there in that face. And I told Mike that, and he said, ‘You really was?’ And I said, ‘I was.’ I said, ‘But Tim kept hollering to me to keep your mind on the lord,’” said Holyfield.
“And I said I thought about that what would’ve probably happened to the game of boxing if the two best fighters biting each other, goring each other, and you know, the game may be over. We wouldn’t even be talking about the game now.”
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