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HOLYFIELD vs. TYSON

Will Boxing Exact Its Pound of Flesh?

Aftermath: Tyson's $30-million purse is held up pending a hearing.

June 29, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAS VEGAS — Evander Holyfield went to a nearby hospital after Saturday night's heavyweight title fight.

So did a chunk of his right ear.

Holyfield was scheduled to undergo plastic surgery to reattach what was estimated by one ringside observer as a half-inch chunk of the right ear, bitten away by his opponent, Mike Tyson, in the third round of their much-anticipated rematch.

Holyfield left behind a swirl of controversy. Tyson also took a bite out of Holyfield's left ear in that third round before referee Mills Lane disqualified Tyson.

Dr. Elis Ghanem, chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, announced that Tyson was being suspended and his $30-million purse was being held up pending an emergency hearing Tuesday. That comes out to $15 million per ear.

Tommy Brooks, one of Holyfield's trainers, called for the banning of Tyson from boxing.

"He should lose his license permanently," Brooks said. "He's a coward. He's a nice guy, but he's a Jekyll-Hyde."

Tyson said he bit Holyfield in response to a butt by Holyfield in the second round that opened up a deep gash over Tyson's right eye.

Lane ruled the butt unintentional.

"He butted me in the first round and in the second round again," Tyson said. "He kept going down and coming up on me. This is my career. I have children to raise. I have to retaliate. He butted me. I complained in the first round and nothing was done.

"He's not tough. Look at me. I have one eye. I'm ready to fight him now. He didn't want to fight. Regardless of what he did, I did address it. I addressed it in the ring. Look at me. My kids will be scared of me."

Responded Holyfield: "When he bit me the first time, I couldn't believe it. They have rules and regulations for this. After he bit me the first time, I went back to my corner and they told me to breathe deep and concentrate.

"He caught me with a good shot and bit my ear and spit it out. Look at the bite. I'm missing part of my ear.

"Mills Lane told him: One more time and he's gone. He continued to foul and referee Mills Lane saw it as intentional."

Lane said he originally warned both fighters for excessive holding. After the first bite, Lane said he subtracted two points from Tyson, one for the bite and one for pushing Holyfield afterward.

Lane said he allowed the fight to go after ringside physician Flip Homansky said that Holyfield could continue.

After the second bite, Lane waited until the round was over, then mulled over his next move.

"I had to do some thinking," Lane said. "That was the biggest penalty you can do to someone. I thought about it and thought about it. Then I said, 'Nope, I'm going to do what I'm going to do and let the chips fall where they may. . . . One bite is bad enough. Two bites is dessert."

Even promoter Don King, always a loud and forceful advocate for his fighters, seemed stunned by the events.

Asked if he could see himself putting together yet another Tyson-Holyfield match, King said, "I don't know I can until I determine what happened."

But King was firm in his belief that Tyson's purse should not be held up.

"Yes, they should be paid," King said. "They came to fight. Boxing is unpredictable. You never know what happens. That's what makes it so great."

Great? After Saturday night's fiasco, even Don King will have trouble selling that one.

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