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Eternal Rivalry: Mike Tyson versus Evander Holyfield

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield were iconic heavyweight rivals in the nineties. They squared of twice. Holyfield won both fights.


Michael Gerard "Mike" Tyson was born in New York City on June 30, 1966. Evander Holyfield was born in Atmore, Alabama on October 19, 1962.

Young Tyson: Knockout Artist

Mike Tyson was 18 years old when he turned professional. The young Tyson was one of the greatest "Knockout Artists" of all time. He won his first 37 fights. Tyson defeated many opponents by a first-round knockout.

Youngest Champion

At the age of 20 years, Mike Tyson was the youngest world heavyweight champion ever. He won the WBC heavyweight title on November 22, 1986. Tyson defeated the reigning champion Trevor Berbick by technical knockout in the second round. He added the IBF and WBA titles in 1987. The 21-years-old Tyson was the first heavyweight to simultaneously hold these three prestigious belts.

Holyfield: Physical Late Bloomer

Holyfield began boxing at age seven. He was a "physical late bloomer" compared to other heavyweight boxers. When he graduated from high school, he weighed 147 pounds. By age 21, Holyfield weighed 178 pounds.

As an amateur, he represented the USA at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He competed in the light heavyweight division. Holyfield won the bronze medal.

He started out professionally as a light heavyweight in the fall of 1984. Holyfield moved up to the cruiserweight division in the summer of 1985. He won the WBA cruiserweight title in 1986. His first fight as a heavyweight boxer was in the summer of 1988.

Mike Tyson vs Bustor Douglas

There were plans for a Tyson-Holyfield world title fight in 1990. Before that could happen, however, there was a title fight on February 11, 1990: Mike Tyson versus Buster Douglas. Tyson was the huge favorite. Boxing analysts thought he would easily knockout Douglas in the first round. Tyson didn't take the fight seriously; he didn't prepare properly. Douglas won the title fight by knockout in the tenth round. It was one of the biggest upsets in sports history.

Evander Holyfield vs Bustor Douglas

The next fight for the "undisputed heavyweight world title" was Buster Douglas versus Evander Holyfield on October 25, 1990. Holyfield won the fight by knockout in the third round.


Mike Tyson was arrested in 1991. He was accused of raping Desiree Washington, the 18-year-old Miss Black Rhode Island. Tyson was found guilty in March 1992. He was sentenced to six years in prison. Tyson was released from prison in 1995.


Tyson made his comeback on August 19, 1995. He fought Peter McNeeley. Tyson won the fight in the first round. The comeback fight grossed around 100 million dollars.

Subsequently, Mike Tyson easily defeated Buster Mathis Jr, Frank Bruno (WBC title) and Bruce Seldon (WBA title).


Holyfield, retiring?

In the meantime, Holyfield had some strong wins, but also some losses. In 1994, Holyfield had announced his retirement from boxing because of a heart condition, but he made his comeback in 1995, defeating former Olympic champion Ray Mercer.

Finally: Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield I

Evander Holyfield and the defending heavyweight champion Mike Tyson finally met on November 9, 1996, in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Paradise, Nevada. It was the undisputed "Fight of the Year". Tyson was heavily favored to win the title fight. However, Holyfield defeated Tyson by technical knockout in round eleven.

The Bite Fight: Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield II

Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson fought again on June 28, 1997. It became one of the most controversial events in sports history. Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ears. His boxing license was revoked. He had to pay a 3 million dollar fine.

Tyson afterwards

Many people thought this “Bite Fight” was the end of his career. However, Mike Tyson made his comeback in January 1999, fighting Francois Botha. Tyson won by knockout in the fifth round. Afterwards he fought nine official fights. He won some, he lost some, but he never reached his top level again. Tyson retired in June 2005.

Holyfield afterwards

Holyfield lost his world titles in 1999, when he was defeated by Lennox Lewis. He won the vacant WBA heavyweight title in 2000 by defeating John Ruiz. In March 2001, Holyfield and Ruiz faced again. Ruiz defeated Holyfield via "unanimous decision" and won the WBA title.

Holyfield retired in 2011. His last opponent was Brian Nielsen (Denmark). Holyfield won by technical knockout in the tenth round. When he retired, he was 48 years and 200 days old.

Statistics Mike Tyson

Tyson has an official boxing record of 58 fights: 50 wins (44 by knockout), 6 losses and 2 no contest. The height of Tyson is 5 ft 10. His reach is 71 inches.

Statistics Evander Holyfield

Holyfield has a boxing record of 57 fights: 44 wins (29 by knockout), 10 losses, 2 draws and one no contest. The height of Holyfield is 6 ft 2,5 inches. His reach is 77,5 inches.

Nickname Mike Tyson

His most famous nickname is "Iron Mike". Another nickname is "The Baddest Man on the Planet". In his early years his nickname was "Kid Dynamite".

Nickname Evander Holyfield

The most famous nickname of Holyfield is "The Real Deal". Another nickname is "The Warrior".

Comeback Tyson

Mike Tyson teased a potential return to the ring in the spring of 2020. He spoke about it in interviews and posted training videos on Instagram.

It was announced in July that he had signed a contract to face Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition fight. The fight took place on November 28, 2020. It was declared a draw. Millions of people around the world watched an official live stream of the comeback fight.


Holyfield also announced a potential return to the ring. He tweeted in 2020: "Are you ready? The moment you've all been waiting for... The Champ is back!"

"I'd like to announce that I will be making a comeback to the ring. I will be fighting in exhibition matches for a great cause."

There are negotiations about a potential third fight between Holyfield and Tyson in 2021. This would not be an official fight, but an exhibition event.


© 2021 Van Staveren

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