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Mike Tyson Returns to Boxing: THE BITE FIGHT by George Willis – BOOK REVIEW

By Geno McGahee

I’m 38 years old and when I speak to other boxing fans from my generation, they all mention the same name that drew them to the sport: Mike Tyson. I began watching boxing sporadically when Larry Holmes ruled boxing, but his in-ring exploits or out of the ring persona didn’t capture my imagination. When the destroyer came onto the scene, I saw a fighter that was unbeatable and a man that no other man could last against. Mike Tyson is the biggest name ever in the world of boxing.

Tyson’s rule was impressive and the wreckage left behind was made up of a lot of good fighters. His rise to the top is not nearly as popular as his crash and burn. More people look at Tyson’s career as a train wreck and if you had to point to one instance that supported that opinion, it would be the rematch with Evander Holyfield, or “THE BITE FIGHT” as Author, George Willis, puts it.

On November 9th, 1996, Tyson would square off with Holyfield for the first time with the WBA heavyweight title hanging in the balance. At this point, Tyson was a huge favorite, somewhere around 22-1 and had put together several victories since his release from prison for rape. Holyfield’s fights up to this match were not scintillating and few believed that the “Real Deal” could pull off the major upset. When it happened, the crowd roared. I remember sitting at home in disbelief that not only did Holyfield win, but he stopped Tyson. Even though Tyson had lost to Buster Douglas prior to this fight, he had re-established his persona as an unstoppable force and Holyfield was hardly the guy to test it.

The thought was that Tyson was ill-prepared, underestimating Holyfield as the rest of us had done and would extract revenge in a rematch. It was set up for June 28th, 1997, and that was the night that Tyson went crazy. After continual and intentional head butts from Holyfield, creating cuts on both of Tyson’s eyes, “Iron Mike” brought the fight to the street and bit both of Holyfield’s ears, prompting the referee to disqualify Tyson.

THE BITE FIGHT by George Willis is a great book that brought me immediately back to a time in boxing that I sorely miss. Mike Tyson was the top pay per view attraction and the electricity of an event was everywhere. People on the streets spoke about Tyson and his upcoming fight with Holyfield and when the dust settled and an upset happened, everybody gave their opinions on it. Mike Tyson meant so much to boxing and the boxing fans. His experiences, good or bad, was something that had to be discussed and this book just takes you down memory lane. People ask: Where were you when JFK was shot? I’m sure any boxing fan knows where they were when Mike Tyson was stopped by Evander Holyfield.

Although this book is called “THE BITE FIGHT”, it does a great job in covering the build up, the first encounter, the careers, and the aftermath of both men. I loved that Mike Tyson wrote the foreward, making this a unique and memorable addition to the Mike Tyson library.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It was a great return to a time when boxing was in top shape and pay per views were not just boxing matches…they were events. I tip my hat to George Willis on this accomplishment.

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