Even 23 years later, it is the most salivating grudge match in combat sport.
Secret talks between boxing legends Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield have been confirmed in a stunning, public attack from the 58-year-old former four-time heavyweight world champion.
There were rumours Tyson’s people had met with Holyfield’s representatives before it was eventually settled for Tyson, 54, to make his return to boxing with an exhibition fight against Roy Jones Jr.
Now the salivating showdown has taken another big step forward with Holyfield calling Tyson out to write one more final chapter in their famous rivalry, more than 20 years since their re-match ended with Tyson being disqualified for biting part of Holyfield’s ear off.
Tyson never again got a shot to redeem himself against Holyfield — until now.
ESPN boxing guru Dan Rafael has reported in an interview with Holyfield that the two camps couldn’t reach an agreement on the split of the fight purse.
Tyson’s representatives reportedly claim Holyfield asked for too much money.
According to reports, Jones Jr walked away with $4 million to step into the ring with Tyson ($13 million).
Holyfield, who retired in 2011, could easily earn more than that, Rafael reports, after the monster success of the Tyson-Jones Jr fight saw it become the second biggest pay-per-view event of 2020 in the United States with estimated sales of 1.2 million purchases.
Holyfield wants the seven-figure payday — and he wants Tyson.
He says he wanted to be the man Tyson made his return against too.
“My side tried to make the fight happen and we got nothing but excuses,” Holyfield said. “Now I can see why he wanted a tune-up fight before thinking about fighting me.”
He says his fight with Tyson would make it a global sporting event.
“Roy Jones was a good local opponent for Mike. But a fight with me would be a global event and the only fight that anyone wants to see is a fight between us,” he said,
“There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t make it happen. No more excuses. This is the fight that must happen for both our legacies. Saturday night you (Tyson) said you were ready to fight me, so sign the contract and get in the ring, Tyson.
“The world is waiting and it’s on you now. I’m ready.”
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr throw hands. Photo: AFP.Source:AFP
As brilliantly captured in the ESPN 30 For 30 documentary Chasing Tyson, Holyfield spent five years jostling for the chance to fight Tyson.
When the moment finally came after Tyson served his prison sentence, he knocked Tyson out cold in November, 1996.
The immediate re-match in 1997 remains one of the most infamous moments in sporting history.
23 years later, Tyson may finally get his shot at revenge and redemption.
Tyson’s flirtation with a Holyfield trilogy fight, as a sanctioned exhibition bout, was revealed last week by The Athletic’s Lance Pugmire.
“He’s all about his new enterprise, the Legends Only League,” Pugmire wrote of Tyson after his unofficial draw with Jones Jr.
“While he goaded Jones to return following the disaster of the draw, Tyson’s nemesis, Evander Holyfield, has sought out a trilogy bout and other retirees will raise their hands to show there’s something left in the old tanks.
“Once they see the pay-per-view numbers from a card that was the talk of social media, expect a full-fledged Tyson rebirth.”
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