When Mike Tyson bit Lennox Lewis’ leg: ‘Sucker move’

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Lennox Lewis has lifted the lid on his infamous press conference brawl with Mike Tyson that involved biting and punches.

In 2002, the heavyweight rivals were finally set to face each other. It was the most lucrative boxing match of all time, but the pre-fight antics threatened to steal the show.

In the documentary, Lennox: The Untold Story, it was revealed Lewis anticipated a melee with Tyson before arriving to the presser.

His longtime friend Courtney Shand said last year, in an extract shared by talkSPORT: “There was tension when we got to New York.

“The night before the press conference, he said, ‘If Mike makes a move for me, forget all the money – I’m not backing down from him, I’m not backing up from him.’”

In was supposed to be a standard pre-fight face-off, all hell broke loose when Tyson marched toward Lewis and swung for his bodyguard.

Lewis, now 55, recalled: “All of a sudden I saw him take his hat off, throw it on the ground and start marching towards me.

“Boom. I was on it – the first three punches were mine and the first bite was his.”

Tyson was forced to pay Lewis around $360,000 (£260,000) for biting his leg, and the brawl almost saw the mega-fight cancelled altogether.

Lewis told Revolt TV earlier this month: “Let me tell you, I didn’t come to that press conference to fight.

“I didn’t want that fight to happen. I, in fact, I couldn’t believe it happened. Why would the man attack me? So I thought that he never wanted to fight?

“I thought it was a sucker move in one sense. We’re gonna make millions. What’s he doing?

“But I didn’t think the millions mattered at that time. So anyway, when he bit me on my leg, I was shocked that he was biting me on my leg. I’ve never been bitten by a human before.”

Mike Tyson bites Lennox Lewis 2002
Mike Tyson got into a skirmish with Lennox Lewis during a 2002 press conference.
AFP via Getty Images

Las Vegas was due to host the grudge match, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission decided not to re-license Tyson.

As a result, promoters were left scrambling to find an alternative to the fight capital of the world. Memphis would eventually be selected as the pay-per-view was forced back by two months.

Tyson at the time had not lost since 1997, when he was disqualified for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear.

Lewis was the unified heavyweight king and golden boy of the division.

Lewis prevailed with an eighth-round knockout when the duo — who once sparred as amateurs — eventually did meet in the ring.

The Brit then fought Vitali Klitschko a year later before retiring as champion.

Tyson would carry on and returned with a win against Clifford Etienne in 2003. But after dismal defeats to Brit Danny Williams and Kevin McBride, the youngest heavyweight champion of all time finally retired in 2005.

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