June 28, 1997: Mike Tyson is disqualified for biting Evander Holyfield's ear in the third round of a WBA heavyweight title showdown.
After Holyfield defeated Tyson by TKO on Nov. 9, 1996 to take the world heavyweight title, the stage was set for a rematch of historic proportions. After months of buildup, Tyson (holding a 45-2 record entering the fight) and Holyfield (33-3) met once again at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Motivated to prove that his upset was no fluke, Holyfield came out firing in the rematch, unanimously winning the first two rounds to get an early 20-18 edge -- but not without some controversy in the process. Tyson complained of the head-butting tactics from Holyfield, later saying that "[referee] Mills Lane wasn't controling the situation appropriately."
With roughly 1.98 million pay-per-view customers -- the largest amount for any boxing fight in the 20th century, according to Forbes -- the third round turned out to be one of the most controversial events in sports history. As the two fighters met in the center of the ring in the final minute of the round, Holyfield ducked to avoid a fierce left hook from Tyson, leading to this:
Although the fight wasn't initially stopped -- doctors determined that Holyfield was still able to fight, and Tyson was initially only deducted two points -- Lane disqualified Tyson at the conclusion of the third round after discovering another smaller bite that occurred later in the round. The ref's decision brought an abrupt ending to the fight, allowing Holyfield to retain his belt.
Holyfield expressed pride in his victory, believing that Tyson's antics were methods of avoiding a potential knockout and telling the New York Times: "I'm the man, and he can't handle me."
Tyson repeated his stance that the bites came out of retaliation for Holyfield's earlier maneuvers, telling the newspaper: "'He butted me in the second round and he looked at me and butted me again. No one deducted points. This is my career. What am I supposed to do? I've got children to raise."
The event would leave a significant legacy, eventually being the subject of George Willis' 2013 account "The Bite Fight: Tyson, Holyfield, and the Night that Changed Boxing Forever."
Tyson had his boxing license removed immediately after the fight, but the Nevada State Athletic Association voted to nullify that decision in October 1998 and allow him to resume competitions.
The two competitors made amends at the conclusions of their careers. Tyson apologized to Holyfield's face on a 2009 episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and the victim accepted, as the two have since become friends. Tyson even inducted Holyfield into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in an August 2014 ceremony.
Tyson, now 48, retired in 2005 with a 50-6-2 overall record, and has since become an actor, most notably starring as himself in "The Hangover" franchise. Holyfield, 52, most recently fought in 2011, before formally retiring in 2014 with a 44-10-2 record. Holyfield has since begun coaching Chinese heavyweight fighter Zhang Zhilei, according to ESPN.