Former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who retained his title when Tyson bit his ear in an infamous incident in 1997, has named the eye-watering price required for him to consider another fight with his fierce rival.
Holyfield, 58, has been absent from the ring since a 2011 win against Danish heavyweight Brian Nielsen but had been among the many names mooted for Tyson’s comeback fight, which took place last weekend against fellow former champion Roy Jones Jr.
Despite the fight being scored a draw, Tyson told the media after Saturday’s draw at the Staples Center in Los Angeles that he was anticipating another opportunity to dust off his 12oz gloves and throw heavy leather once again – with attention quickly turning to the identity of his potential future opponent.
Enter Evander Holyfield. “The Real Deal” has a long history with Tyson dating back to their two previous meetings more than two decades ago; the second of which produced the infamous ear-bite, considered by most to be among the most contentious moments in the history of prizefighting.
But while the years that followed that incident have more than cooled their relationship with one another, Holyfield’s social media profiles appear to be positioning him for what would be a money-spinning third fight with Tyson – so long as the price is right.
In two separate tweets, Holyfield’s team have declared that Holyfield is “ready for war” and that “true power comes from within”, the second of the two showing him hitting pads in a showreel reminiscent of the ones that helped to launched Tyson’s own comeback this summer.
Should he return to action, Holyfield says there will be a significant price tag.
“I wasn’t getting in the ring for less than $25 million,” Holyfield told the I Am Athlete podcast about being sounded out to fight Tyson in recent months.
Ready for WAR #TEAMHOLYFIELDpic.twitter.com/cvyWdZfGq6
True power comes from within. What we seek, we already have. #TEAMHOLYFIELDpic.twitter.com/PngD6M6vUb
“I beat him twice. I felt it was wrong for me to have to ask him to fight me.”
Holyfield admits that if an accord is struck between all parties, then he will be more than happy with renew one of the most rancorous rivalries the heavyweight fold has ever seen.
“If they called me to fight in two days, I’d be there to fight in two days,” he said, adding that a prophet had warned him that the biting scandal would happen and advised him to keep his “mind on the lord”.
Tyson spat part of Holyfield’s ear onto the canvas before the bout was called off in one of the most unedifying moments in sporting history, but the man who sacrificed skin and blood for the win has spoken warmly of his former opponent while being linked to a trilogy fight with Tyson since announcing his own comeback on social media in May.
“Mike was like a cobra,” he told Sky Sports a day later, suggesting that he would consider the fight to support charities. “His arms were short so you think he can’t hit you if you pull your head back.
Do you think I should bring the mustache back? #TeamHolyfieldpic.twitter.com/jQxp2hjJ6e
Startin the week off right… #TEAMHOLYFIELD#therealdealpic.twitter.com/i7pccT2UTE
58 or 28… still feeling great. 💯 Blessed. pic.twitter.com/VlsqUp0LmH
“But he hits you. That’s what happened to a lot of fighters – people pulled their head back but got hit by his left hook.
“That’s what Mike did. Me? I made adjustments – I could fight inside, outside, long style, short style, if I needed to bang then I could bang, and I took a good shot.
“When people look at me, I know they are looking at my ear. People think I got the whole ear bit off!
“People don’t understand the relationship I have with Tyson. Tyson and I were both on the losing squad trying to make the Olympic team in 1984 – that tells you how tough amateur boxing was in my day.
“When Tyson became heavyweight champion of the world, it made me realise that I could do it. Tyson and I had sparred and he was a tough guy even back then, when he was 17 and I was 21.”