Olympic boxer tries to bite opponent as Tokyo 2020 fight brings Mike Tyson flashbacks
The Olympic boxing took a ferocious turn on Tuesday as Moroccan Youness Baalla tried to savagely bite his opponent’s ear. The 22-year-old attempted the bite after falling behind on a day to forget as he eventually crumbled to a 5-0 loss to New Zealand’s David Nyika.
Nyika, who was one of New Zealand’s flag bearers at the Games opening ceremony, escaped from the incident unharmed to secure a quarter-final spot against Uladzislau Smiahlikau of Belarus.
The unsavoury incident brought back memories of the infamous night in 1997 when Mike Tyson was disqualified for biting a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear in a world heavyweight title fight.
That proved one of the sport’s most dramatic nights ever. The American was subsequently banned from professional boxing.
“He wouldn’t exchange properly,” Nyika said following the Olympic incident: “He ducked his head, he bit me, he hit me below the belt.
“I didn’t think he’d get away with it. He tried to bite my cheekbone – he probably just got a mouthful of sweat.
“He didn’t get a full mouthful. Luckily he had his mouthguard in and I was a bit sweaty. But come on man, this is the Olympics – get your s**t together.
“He’s been on the scene for a while but he’s usually a calm, composed character.
“That happened and I was like, ‘I thought we were having fun,’ but he clearly wasn’t.
“My bad. I told him after, ‘it’s okay.’ He wasn’t happy, he wasn’t too chuffed. That was foul play.”
Nyika’s coach Billy Meehan was equally as angry after the attempted bite.
“You don’t expect to see that,” Meechan said. “You don’t expect to get that and David handled it brilliantly.”
Baalla escaped punishment at the time but was later retrospectively disqualified for the incident with officials stating he “very clearly intended to bite the ear/face of his opponent.”
Nyika, 25, later took to Instagram, however, to defend his opponent.
He posted: “The heat of battle can bring the best AND the worst out of people. This is part of sport. I have nothing but respect for my opponent and can appreciate the frustration he must have felt. *Please don’t reach out to him if you have nothing nice to say.
Nyika is now just one fight away from securing New Zealand’s first boxing medal since 1992.
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