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Twice Bitten: Holyfield - Tyson II By George Willis

Release date: 06th June, 2013
Publisher: Mainstream

List Price: £14.99
Our Price: £9.59
You Save: £5.4 (36%)
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Before finishing the introductory niceties with an appropriately showbizzy “Let’s get it on” and sending the fighters back to their respective corners, the referee declares, “I expect a tough, clean fight,” but sixteen years on, Holyfield v Tyson II remains renowned as one of the dirtiest heavyweight contests in history.

There have been several retrospective examinations of a fight that ended in the third round with a brutal Tyson disqualified for biting Holyfield’s ear and spitting it to the ring’s floor, but Twice Bitten is one of the best. George Willis mulls over a number of previously unconsidered aspects, not least the state of Tyson’s mind (amongst other things he wonders whether Tyson had a nervous breakdown), before he stepped into the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Prior to the contest, Tyson had recorded twenty professional first round victories and as Holyfield had won their first duel, there was no doubt that Tyson was fired up for their WBA Championship rematch. Yet the power behind his famous left jab, a frightening punch of sledgehammer velocity and capacity, was clearly diminishing. This meant that not only was Holyfield capable of countering Tyson’s attacks, he was able to bully him throughout the fight and inflicted a deep cut above the former champion’s eye in the second round.

The contest’s one-sided nature adds weight to another of Willis’s theories, namely that Tyson realised he was being picked off and comfortably beaten, a conclusion which persuaded him to turn the bout into a street fight.

Willis also suggests that as Holyfield was not punished for butting his opponent, Tyson was, by the third round, motivated by a sense of retaliation.

As the pair held and locked arms in the dramatic third round, Tyson took a punch under his right arm; the blow’s momentum put his face adjacent to Holyfield’s ear. It was at this point that a combination of street-fighting mentality and an urge to retaliate resulted in him biting off part of Holyfield’s ear. It was a foul rarely seen inside a boxing ring, one which left the referee no choice but to disqualify the challenger.

Willis successfully endeavours to answer several other questions regarding the ‘Bite Fight’, which remains one of boxing’s most notorious contests, in what proves an engaging read.


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