Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield's ear off in 1997, perhaps one of the most recognizable moments in boxing history, still resonates with many boxing fans and Holyfield thinks that Tyson's bite was his way of saying that he was afraid of Holyfield.
Speaking at the 55th annual WBC convention, Holyfield remembered the incident that would change both fighters' careers and said, from his own personal experience, that biting in a fight is a sign that you want to run.
"With those bites, I understood that Mike was afraid because when you do something like that, it's because you want to run and not fight. When I fought with my brothers, I would bite them and then run, so it was the same situation. Biting me was the easiest way out of the fight," Holyfield said.
The fight was a rematch to their 1996 fight in which Holyfield retained his WBA heavyweight title by stopping Tyson in the 11th round of the fight. The two had a rematch the next year and marked one of the most controversial in-competition moments in sports history. In the third round of the rematch, Tyson bit Holyfield in one ear, ws deducted two points after the fight was stopped, Tyson bit Holyfield in the other ear.
One of the bites was severe enough to remove a piece of Holyfield's right ear, which was found on the ring floor after the fight. As a result, the fight became the first heavyweight world title fight in about half a century at the time to end in a disqualification. Tyson wouldn't return to the ring for another year-and-a-half, but his career after the incident failed to live up to the success the first 10 years of his pro career achieved.