Warning: Some of the images below are not for the squeamish.
Stephen Smith suffered a gruesome injury while facing off against Francisco Vargas in Las Vegas, and some boxing fans are saying that they’ve never seen anything like it. However, others are pointing out that he’s not the only professional boxer to almost lose his ear in the ring.
Stephen Smith had his sights set on the world title ahead of his Saturday night matchup with Francisco Vargas at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino Events Center, but “Swifty” didn’t make headlines for emerging victorious. Instead, images of the 32-year-old super featherweight boxer’s brutal injury went viral after he lost to Vargas on a technical decision. As reported by SB Nation, Smith’s ear was split so badly during the ninth round that referee Russell Mora stepped in to stop the fight. Blood was pouring from Smith’s wound, and images of the injury immediately evoked memories of Mike Tyson’s 1997 infamous matchup with Evander Holyfield.
According to Rolling Stone, Holyfield thought that Tyson had completely bitten his ear off when he decided to use it as a chew toy, and the four-time world heavyweight champ did end up losing a small piece of his ear after it was stitched back up. However, no teeth were involved in Stephen Smith’s ear incident. As reported by the Mirror, the cause of his injury appeared to be an “accidental clash of heads.”
"I don't think I've ever seen anything like that in a boxing match...in an ear that was not bitten." - @AndreWard on Smith's gruesome ear injury that stopped #VargasSmith #SalidoRoman pic.twitter.com/SGVntIDta0— HBOboxing (@HBOboxing) December 10, 2017
As horrific as Stephen Smith’s injury was, World Boxing News reported that he didn’t want the bout to end because of it. However, he couldn’t keep fighting because he clearly needed medical attention, and he wasn’t in the ring when former world champion Francisco Vargas was declared the winner with scores of 89-82, 88-83, and 88-83. It was the fourth loss of Smith’s career.
Swifty’s ear was a hot topic on Twitter, and there were Mike Tyson jokes aplenty.
Smith’s ear looks like it’s on the Tyson menu. #boxing— JeandraLeBeauf (@jeandralebeauf) December 10, 2017
Mike Tyson will be jealous of Swifty's ear— peter kavanagh (@glasscandle) December 10, 2017
Wow Swifty Smith's ear! Looks like Hannibal Lector and Tyson took turns!!— Igor's Locks (@locks_igor) December 10, 2017
Smith later took to Twitter to give his concerned fans an update on the status of his ear. He revealed that the split had been all stitched up, and he even shared photos of what it looked like before and after he headed to the hospital.
Thanks very much for all your supportive messages last night, read them all and they mean a lot. Went to hospital and got my ear stitched back up so hopefully all will heal well. Thanks again for all the love and support. Have a good Christmas everyone x pic.twitter.com/cOun7ST7qX— Stephen Smith (@SwiftySmith) December 10, 2017
Ahead of the matchup, Stephen Smith hinted that his bout with Francisco Vargas would likely be his last if he didn’t win. According to the Daily Star, he noted that he’s already had two chances at a world title, and he said that he was well aware that he “might only get one more shot.” However, Smith hasn’t yet announced whether he plans on retiring.