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“Twice Bitten,” The Story of Holyfield-Tyson II a KO read

Review by James Slater

New York Post writer George Willis has delivered a fine read regarding the true story regarding one of the blackest days in boxing history. Willis, having done impeccable research, has produced the definitive read on the infamous second meeting between heavyweight legends Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.

Known universally as “The Bite Fight,” the spectacle that unfolded in Las Vegas in June of 1997 shocked everyone; fans, experts and casual viwers alike. Willis, in his addictive book, explains why.

More than just a book to cash in on the shocking behaviour of the then hugely unhinged Tyson, “Twice Bitten” also serves as a comprehensive biography of both heavyweight greats. With good coverage devoted to the formative years of both men, including when Tyson and Holyfield met for the first time, and the time the “obsession” Holyfield had of fighting Tyson first reared its head, Willis gives readers plenty of new information: such as, how a member of Team Tyson took to dying his white shorts black when no black ones were at hand, and what Holyfield trainer Don Turner feels about religion and boxing, and his take on God “picking the other guy to win.”

British fans may feel annoyed at how Willis fails to mention the time Bruno rocked “Iron Mike” in the opening round of their 1989 fight – this being the first time the seemingly invicible Tyson had even admitted he had been hurt. And there is the odd mistake here and there, such as Willis wrirting how Holyfield had won two of his three encounters with Riddick Bowe. But this may be mere nitpicking.

The section on referee Mills Lane is as revealing as it is moving, Lane´s time training alongside a young Cassius Clay during the 1960 Olympic trials and Lane´s kind gift to the late Mitch Halpern being of note. There is also some interesting material regarding Tyson´s relationship with hip hop legand Tupac Shakur.

And who knew just how scary and unforgettable the scenes were in The MGM Grand AFTER the Bite Fight? With tales of gunshots fired and of casino tables being all but raded, Willis, who spoke with many key witnesses who were there that fateful night, really does capture the climate of terror and chaos. The MGM Grand, he writes “was on lockdown” that astonishing night.

The photo section, while arguably too small, is also worth a look – especially the somewhat bizarre picture of Tyosn squaring up with pop icon Michael Jackson! The book also has a foreword by Tyson himself, and Willis has certainly produced a book that can be digested in quick time (I read it in three sittings).

Neither fighter´s fight record is listed, which may dissapoint some fans, but all in all, Willis has written a book that is entertaining and well worth shelling out for.

All in all, a knockout of a read!




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