ESPN's 30 for 30 series continues this Tuesday with the debut of Chasing Tyson, a documentary logging heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield's pursuit of greatness amid the Mike Tyson era.
Holyfield would eventually have two chances to square off with Tyson in the ring, and their rivalry created two of the most notable matches in boxing history. Chasing Tyson airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and will be a must-see event.
Read on for a full preview of the film and what to expect in what figures to be another incisive and insightful dive into an underrated sporting spectacle.
|Tuesday, Nov. 10||8 p.m.||ESPN|
'Chasing Tyson' Preview
By the time Holyfield had his shot at Tyson—whose dominant tenure as heavyweight champion was abruptly interrupted by a prison sentence—he was 34 years old, four years his adversary's senior.
Although many expected Tyson to win with ease, those who doubted Holyfield were underestimating how much the opportunity meant to him and how badly he'd longed for it. Holyfield dismissed any notion he was washed up by pummeling Tyson in an epic TKO triumph that the referee stopped in the 11th round.
Prior to his maiden Tyson encounter, Holyfield had earned world heavyweight title honors twice and posted a 32-3 record with 23 knockouts, per BoxRec.com, as opposed to Tyson's 45-1 mark with 39 KOs.
The fact Holyfield even took on the Tyson challenge was amazing in and of itself. He'd already had an entire legacy carved out by then and retired in 1994 because of a heart condition, only to return for the chance to face Tyson in their November 1996 clash.
As he stated leading up to that fateful fight, Holyfield respected what Tyson had achieved but nevertheless fancied his chances to pull off the upset, per ESPN Films 30 for 30:
Such resolve and self-belief were what made Holyfield unique and allowed him to capture the heavyweight title belt an unparalleled four times. Just when it appeared he was finished, The Real Deal lived up to his moniker, displaying rare longevity and toughness in a brutal sport—as part of the most punishing weight class, no less.
The rematch was infamous for Tyson biting off part of Holyfield's ear, which led to the revoking of his boxing license. That part of the story is what fans are bound to be most familiar with.
Director Steven Cantor teased what the majority of his film explores, per ESPN.com:
Evander Holyfield is primarily known today as the guy who had his ear bitten off by Tyson. While the insanity of that singular incident is permanently etched in our collective memory, it is my hope that this film will reintroduce an audience to a fighter who deserves to be remembered as one of the all-time greats.
It seems as though Holyfield is subtly burning with anticipation to put the ear-biting episode behind him in his implicit respect and forgiveness of Tyson for the unsavory occurrence, as he noted on Twitter:
Where this documentary will distinguish itself is in its coverage of Holyfield before his initial showdown with Tyson. Iron Mike has been dissected numerous times because of the dominance he achieved in his prime and his checkered past away from the ring.
Less trodden territory is Holyfield's numerous peaks and valleys between heavyweight championships—and perhaps no phase of his career is more fascinating or overlooked than the span preceding his two Tyson bouts.
The heights Holyfield reached to earn his other nickname, The Warrior, are bound to be the best bits of a documentary that is likely to depict the Tyson fights, but hone in more on the events that had to unfold before Holyfield took on The Baddest Man on the Planet.