In the realm of unforgettable moments in boxing history, Mike Tyson’s attempt to break Francois Botha’s arm during their match stands out as a controversial episode.
This controversial bout came on the heels of Tyson’s disqualification in 1997 for biting Evander Holyfield’s ears. The Nevada Athletic Commission imposed a hefty fine and revoked Tyson’s boxing license. After a 15-month ban, Tyson returned to face former IBF Heavyweight champion Francois Botha on January 16, 1999.
The lead-up to the fight was marked by Tyson’s bold predictions of a knockout victory, and Botha’s confidence in a seventh-round knockout. The match unfolded with Botha outboxing and outpointing Tyson in the initial rounds. However, the turning point occurred in the fifth round when Tyson landed a decisive right hand, securing a knockout victory at 2:59.
Tyson’s unorthodox move occurred during his bout against Francois Botha, where he executed a perilous Armbar technique, refusing to release Botha’s arm. Botha later recounted the event to the New York Times, emphasizing Tyson’s attempt to break and twist his arm.
Surprisingly, Tyson acknowledged the allegations, confirming Botha’s account. Marc Ratner, the commission’s executive director at the time, expressed concern and instructed the referee, Richard Steele, to take control and prevent a disqualification. Ratner’s directive aimed to maintain the integrity of the fight, emphasizing a desire to avoid a disqualification outcome.
Despite Tyson winning the match, he openly admitted it wasn’t his best performance. Expressing a mix of embarrassment and determination, Tyson remarked, “I’m a little embarrassed. I wanted to shine tonight. It takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day… I’ve got to improve a lot more. I’ve got a long way to go.” Tyson’s confidence in a knockout victory remained unwavering, asserting, “I knew I was going to knock him out. It was just a matter of time.”