A potential third fight between retired former heavyweight champions Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson will not happen, according to Holyfield. The pair discussed a third installment to their rivalry back in 2001.
“It’s too late,” Holyfield said to TMZ over the weekend. “I’m done now.”
Holyfield is 59 and Tyson is 56. This is undoubtedly the smart thing to do. These legendary fighters are old men now. No need to risk potential serious injury at this stage. Yes, the money might have been too much to turn down. There were reports of a $20 million to $25 million purse. But what good is the cash if you aren’t around to spend it?
Both men have participated in fights in the last 18 months.
Tyson most recently returned to the ring in November 2020 for an exhibition bout against Roy Jones Jr., and Holyfield fought against Vitor Belfort in September 2021, losing in the first round via technical knockout.
Holyfield and Tyson faced off against one another in 1996 and again in 1997.
The 1996 bout took place in Las Vegas. Tyson was defending his WBA heavyweight title, and this was the fourth fight in a comeback for Holyfield. At the start of the fight the 34-year-old Holyfield was a 10-1 underdog. But he defeated Tyson by TKO when the referee stopped the fight in the 11th round. Holyfield became the second boxer ever to win a heavyweight championship belt three times.
The rematch in 1997 was again in Las Vegas, and this time Tyson was only a 2-1 favorite to win. It was one of the biggest boxing rematches of all-time. There were last minute referee changes, sniping and allegations by both camps in the media. But nothing could’ve prepared the sports world for what actually happened.
The fight was stopped at the end of the third round, with Tyson disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ears. Part of Holyfield’s right ear was bitten off during the bout, and found in the aftermath on the canvass. Tyson said his actions were in retaliation to Holyfield’s head-butting, which went without penalty. Tyson and his camp also accused Holyfield of head-butting in the first fight.
Tyson Holyfield II was the first heavyweight title fight in over 50 years to end in a disqualification.
Tyson’s license was revoked by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for a year. Most states honored that decision and his license wasn’t restored until 1998.
The Holyfield fights marked the end of Tyson’s championship level ability and he only registered a few more wins later in his career. By the time he fought then-heavyweight champion Lenox Lewis in 2002, he was well past his prime. Lewis won by KO in the eighth round after controlling the fight.
Holyfield had moderate success after the Tyson fights. He regained the IBF title from Michael Moorer and only competed in one mandatory title defense in 1998.
In 1999 Holyfield had the first of two bouts against then WBC champion Lenox Lewis. The fight ended in a split decision, though Lewis dominated the fight.
Later that year the two had their much anticipated rematch where Lewis won and became the undisputed heavyweight champ, holding all four belts.