Posted: Friday June 29, 2012 7:03AM ; Updated: Friday June 29, 2012 12:19PM
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An oral history Tyson-Holyfield 'bite fight' (cont.)

By Gabriel Baumgaertner, SI.com

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Sports Illustrated's cover headline said it all -- Madman. Boxing, and Tyson, would never recover from the savage night.
Sports Illustrated's cover headline said it all -- Madman. Boxing, and Tyson, would never recover from the savage night.
V.J. Lovero/SI

Lennon: It was a really dirty and rough fight. There was everything from Round 1 on. There were head-butts, low blows, a lot of grabbing and wrestling, pushing and shoving. It was just a rough fight. But in the fight itself you could see that Holyfield was picking up from where he left off in his last fight and Tyson was getting more and more frustrated.

Don Stradley, longtime contributor for The Ring: At the time [Tyson] was talking about the butts, but nobody wanted to hear it. As some years went by and everybody started noticing that Holyfield does use his head, they started looking back at that fight and realizing that maybe there was some head-butting going on.

Czyz: Winning is what you need to do at all costs. And then after the fight [Holyfield] praises God so he looks like a great guy even if he forearmed and head-butted you in the eye. You look at the fight and watch some of the clips, he gets inside, he gets his head down and he does head-butt, he does elbow, he does use his forearm, he does use the inside of the gloves and use his face. He uses everything he has, and against Mike Tyson, I probably would too.

Rich Giachetti, Tyson's trainer for the second fight: [Mike] knocked out two different sparring partners in Florida when he didn't even mean to. He was in such good shape that when he hit the guys he'd do everything right and he'd knock these guys out. We were ready. Suddenly he gets butted and cut his eye in the first round. A cut heals from the inside out, so it wasn't healed up.

Gray: His eye was bleeding really badly. He had suffered a terrible, terrible head-butt. I didn't think of [the bite] at the time as being retribution. I kept thinking that this fight can't go on long; perhaps he is going to do something to disable Holyfield because he's not going to be able to continue.

Lennon: It was clear that Tyson was getting beat and Holyfield was not going to be bullied in this fight. There was a lot of frustration on Tyson's part. You could see he felt he wasn't getting justice. He was complaining to the referee about getting head-butts and low blows. The ref didn't see the low blows and a lot of people didn't see the low blows. And then the head-butts, Mills Lane ruled it an unintentional head-butt and correctly so, but Tyson wanted more. He didn't like how this fight was unfolding.

Tyson: I prepared extremely hard for the second fight. I realized in the first and second rounds of that fight I was blacking out and feeling dizzy like I was in the first fight. After that first fight, I said I am going to get in the best shape of my life. And then it was happening again. I started freaking out. I wasn't getting any help from the referee. (Holyfield) must have butted me 15 times.

Iole: I see them fighting inside and their heads are against each other. That isn't unusual, sometimes guys fight inside. Suddenly, I see Holyfield jumping up and down. I thought Tyson might have hit him low.

Lennon: When Holyfield leapt up into the air, that struck me. I'll never forget that image. Fighters want to keep their feet on the ground at all times, and suddenly Holyfield is jumping up in the air? I had no clue what happened.

Gray: Well, I saw the first ear bite and I couldn't believe it. I thought about that for a second. He bit his ear. Holyfield reacted, and then Mills Lane reacted. Tyson kind of lifted his arms as if to say "Who? Me? What?"

Brooks: When he came back to the corner, I saw blood running down the side of his head and thought "what the heck?" Evander was saying "He bit me, man! He bit me!"

Ratner: Mills came over and said he bit him and that he was going to disqualify him. As an aside, I was an NCAA football official. When you want to eject somebody, the ref will always ask "are you sure you want to do this?" He'll give you a second to think about it to make sure you don't get caught up in the heat of the moment. That was the first thing that came to my mind when Mills said he wanted to DQ him. I asked "are you sure you want to do this? You want to disqualify him?" And then he said, let's get Dr. Homansky to take a look. Dr. Homansky said that he was OK to go.

Giampa: My seat happened to be closest to Holyfield's corner. I remember his trainers going crazy saying "he bit him!" Holyfield immediately blocked out everything and I saw him just moving his lips like he was meditating or praying. He got back in the zone. He was ready to get back into the fight.

Ratner: What I wonder to this day is that if Tyson somehow would have knocked Holyfield out, not only would have the course of boxing history have been changed, but the course of my life. I would have been the one that would have said in essence to not disqualify him.

Atlas: I remember yelling to my wife "He's gonna bite him!" "He's gonna DQ himself!" you see Holyfield jumping. "He bit him!" Who would have thought that was it? Nobody could comprehend that he just bit his ear off? You could guess but you can't guess that. He's getting out of the fight. A little while later it's clear. For me, that's it. That's how you put it together. That's the puzzle.

Tyson: I was desperate at that particular moment. I was desperate. I was blacking out. I didn't know what to do.

King: You have to understand the frustration of Tyson. Tyson said he was being butted and he couldn't appeal to anybody to get any type of help so he took it upon himself to bite the man. On Holyfield's part, it's a normal thing of going on with his business. Maybe he doesn't even realize that he's doing what he is doing whatever it is. He's out to win. He's in it to win it and you can't quit. You have to be able to go with what he has to offer. Nobody really knows if it was by calculation and design. Only Holyfield knows that. With Tyson, it was frustration and exasperation that exploded. It came to that one drop of water that makes the cup overflow.

Giachetti: He lost it because he thought he was going to lose again. He felt like he was going to lose his pride and everything. Rage is all he had in him. It was a tragedy. I never expected anything like that.

Lennon: Here's how I remember that there was a second bite. I remember distinctly that the round ended and his trainer Don Turner stepped through the ropes and very calmly walked across the ring and taped Mills Lane on the back. I assume he said that he bit him again. Lane didn't see it either. Turner brought Lane over, observed the second bite on the other ear and then the fight was called at that point.

Gray: You could never think that there would be anything more outrageous that would occur with until this. I never considered myself as one who would someday interview Jeffrey Dahmer.

Iole: There were the angry Tyson fans, they lost control of their emotions because Mike lost control of his emotions. It was dangerous in the crowd. Holyfield's fans were jeering. Fights were breaking out throughout the stands and fans were throwing things toward the ring. It was really bad. It was a scary time.

Nigel Collins, ESPN Friday Night Fights/Former editor at The Ring: I think what I remember most, what stands out for me more than anything else, was when Tyson left the ring he was walking back to the dressing room -- you have to go through a corridor where the bleachers are. As he was walking in that area, fans were leaning over and throwing drinks at him and other objects. Tyson was enraged and actually tried to climb up the side of the bleachers to get to the fan and had to be pulled down by some of his men. That was an indication of how far off of the rails that it got.

Tyson: I was doing my prima donna s---. F you and this and that and F you this is about my children. F you I want to fight you again.

 
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