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Holyfield was considered the favorite to win the light-heavyweight championship at the 1984 Olympics, but was the victim of one of the controversial decisions that plagued boxing at the Seoul Games. He had apparently knocked out his opponent in a semi-final bout, but the referee ruled the punch had been thrown after the bell, and Holyfield lost on a questionable decision.
He became a professional after the Olympics and won the WBA and IBF junior heavyweight (cruiserweight) championships on July 12, 1986, with a decision over Dwight M. Qawi in Atlanta. Holyfield added the WBC junior heavyweight title by knocking out Carlos DeLeon in the 8th round on April 9, 1988.
Holyfield became world heavyweight champion with a 3rd-round knockout of Buster Douglas on October 25, 1990. He was then scheduled to fight Mike Tyson, who had been upset by Douglas, but the fight was postponed when Tyson suffered an injury and then canceled entirely after Tyson's conviction for rape.
After three defenses, Holyfield lost the title to Riddick Bowe in a unanimous decision on November 13, 1992. It was his first loss in 29 professional fights. Holyfield reclaimed the championship with a 12-round decision over Bowe on November 6, 1993, but lost it to Michael Moorer on a decision the following year.
He got his long-delayed fight with Tyson on November 9, 1996, and won the WBA version of the title by knocking Tyson out in the 11th round. He held onto it in a 1997 rematch when Tyson, clearly losing, twice bit Holyfield's ear and was disqualified in the third round.
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