The moment Youness Baalla tried to bite David Nyika's ear during their bout at the Olympics

Credit: BBC

A Moroccan boxer lost his cool and attempted to bite his heavyweight opponent’s ear in the Olympic boxing tournament in an echo of Mike Tyson’s notorious clash with Evander Holyfield in 1997.

Youness Baalla was already losing to David Nyika when he attempted to bite the right-hand side of his New Zealand opponent’s face.

Baalla failed to make an impact with his teeth and the incident was not spotted by the officials, with Nyika going on to win 5-0. But the boxing task force, who are running the tournament, later disqualified the Moroccan for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

"He didn’t get a full mouthful," Nyika, 25, explained. "Luckily he had his mouthguard in and I was a bit sweaty. I don’t remember what I said to him but I gave him a little bit of a cheek. I have been bitten once on the chest before at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. But c’mon man this is the Olympics."

The incident brought back memories of Tyson’s bite during his heavyweight world title fight with Holyfield. On that occasion Tyson bit a chunk out of his opponent’s ear and was disqualified.

Nyika had eased to a 5-0 victory over hot-tempered Baalla. The Olympic debutant had been superior from the outset, winning the first two rounds with ease and constantly troubling Baalla with pinpoint jabs at the Kokugikan Arena – the spiritual home of Japan’s sumo wrestling.

In the third round, the 22-year-old Baalla lost his cool and attempted to bite his opponent’s ear before a visibly shocked Nyika managed to slip his ear clear.

The fight continued and Nyika, who was one of New Zealand’s flag bearers at the Games opening ceremony, booked a quarter-final spot against Uladzislau Smiahlikau, before his opponent was later disqualified.

"The boxer … very clearly intended to bite the ear/face of his opponent in the third round of the bout," organisers said in a statement.

The spokesperson for the Moroccan contingent in Tokyo did not respond to an email requesting comment.