Mike Tyson has declared he will meet fellow former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield for a third time on May 29.
The two boxing icons, now aged 54 and 58 respectively, have frequently floated the prospect of a trilogy encounter since footage was published of Tyson training with impressive ferocity last year.
Tyson did indeed return to the ring in 2020, more than 15 years after his last professional outing, and boxed an exhibition against fellow great Roy Jones Jr.
Holyfield’s representatives told The Athletic this week that Tyson’s team had “rejected all offers” and they “ended up wasting our time” during negotiations.
But, during an Instagram Live interview with Haute Living, Tyson said the bout was “on” this Memorial Weekend.
“I just want everybody to know the fight is on with me and Holyfield,” he said, with Hard Rock Stadium in Miami having been mooted as a potential venue.
“Holyfield is a humble man, I know that, and he’s a man of God. But I’m God’s man and I’m going to be successful, May 29.”
Tyson and Holyfield’s 1990s rivalry at the top of the heavyweight division has long gone down in sporting ignominy but remains a topic of grim fascination due to the abrupt and sudden ending to their second encounter in Las Vegas in 1997.
Having complained to referee Mills Lane about Holyfield using headbutts, Tyson bit a chunk out of the top of his opponent’s right ear during a clinch in round three and spat it on to the canvas.
A delay ensued as Holyfield received medical treatment and Lane considered disqualifying Tyson before deciding against that course of action when ringside doctor said the reigning WBA champion was fit to continue, opting merely to deduct two points from the challenger.
However, Tyson then bit Holyfield’s left ear when the action resumed and, when this became apparent at the end of round three, the fight was stopped.
That such a fiasco remains the defining event of their rivalry in the public imagination does Holyfield a disservice, such was the comprehensive and against-the-odds nature of his win in their initial meeting the previous November.
The former unified world cruiserweight champion had to bide his time for a shot at the self-styled ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’, with a planned meeting in 1990 thrown off course by Tyson’s shock loss of his WBC, WBA and IBF belts to James ‘Buster’ Douglas.
Holyfield stopped Douglas inside three rounds of his first defence but losses to Michael Moorer and in two of his three thrilling bouts with Riddick Bowe, along with a brief retirement due to a heart complaint, gave the impression of boxing’s only over four-time heavyweight champion being damaged goods by the time he got a crack at Tyson on the other side of the latter’s prison sentence for rape.
But a then 34-year-old Holyfield came through some heavy weather early on to dominate Tyson and batter his compatriot to a stunning 11th-round defeat, setting the stage for a rematch that went down in history for all the wrong reasons.