Meanwhile, Tyson had emerged from his three-year prison stay in Indiana and quickly recreated his menacing aura. He dispatched club fighter Peter McNeely in one round in August 1995, then posted a third-round knockout of Buster Mathis Jr.
Tyson was back to being the “Baddest Man on the Planet” after knocking out World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Frank Bruno in three rounds in March 1996. Five months later, Tyson won the World Boxing Association version of the heavyweight crown by supposedly knocking out champion Bruce Seldon in one round. It appeared that Seldon was so frightened of Tyson he went down as soon as the first punch grazed his chin, and stayed down.
There was so little respect for Holyfield at the time that Tyson agreed to fight him just two months after the Seldon fight. People feared that Holyfield would not just lose, but get killed. Yet, in a thing of beauty, Holyfield systematically dismantled Tyson, piece by piece, until the fight was stopped in the 11th round. The fight turned in the fifth round, when Holyfield went punch for punch with Tyson and backed him up. That was when Tyson was finished, and he knew it. He knew it after the fight, when he acted like Holyfield’s puppy dog in the post-fight press conference, and he knew it going into the ring 10 years ago, when one of his associates from his amateur days — trainer Teddy Atlas — predicted before the fight that Tyson would do something in the ring to quit. He did, but no one could have predicted how.
Tyson quit that fight but continued to be a spectacle in the ring until his last fight two years ago, a loss to Kevin McBride here in the District. Today is his 41st birthday, and he faces trial on Aug. 20 in Phoenix on drug possession charges. Holyfield, at the age of 44, continues to fight and will meet Lou Savarese tonight in El Paso.
“I even gave [promoter] Don King the name for it — ‘Forgiven but not forgotten.’ ”
No one who watched it will ever forget the “Bite Fight.”
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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