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By Isaac Shaw
So Evander Holyfield, the ‘Warrior’ the ‘Real Deal’ and perhaps now we can write ‘Shot Fighter’ is to fight James Toney in the highly anticipated ‘War on Oct 4.’
I’ve decided to write this piece before the fight as I can see no benefit to Holyfield, win or lose, and his career.
For Toney it’s a win-win situation. Lose and he can say he’s fighting an experienced top level heavyweight who had too much strength/skill, and he can return to the cruisers for a possible rematch with Jirov. If he does win, which based on recent Holyfield results is a distinct possibility, he sets himself up for some lucrative match-ups after beating one of the biggest names in the division.
Unfortunately for Toney all he will have beaten is the name, as most people, aside from Holyfield, have now realised.
Of course die hard Holyfield fans (and there are still plenty of them) will argue he has been written off before and proved the critics wrong, he can still turnback the clock.
I would agree that Holyfield has proved the critics wrong but he doesn’t have to keep trying to do it!
For example after the points defeat to Moorer in 1994, this would have been a good time to retire, particularly due to his heart condition. However after Holyfield visited the healer Benny Hinn he said that his heart had healed and he continued.
He then fought Bowe in 1995 in a decider to their trilogy but lost in an exciting 8 rounds after another bruising battle. So now would be a good time to retire, a brave ex-champ and where else was there to go? One word TYSON.
He was back and a champion again, it was a chance to have the fight that never was, due to the indiscretions with a certain beauty queen in the early 1990’s. There was no way Holyfield could turn down this challenge.
There were those, myself included who felt this could be too much for Holyfield and he could suffer serious injuries. However in one of the great boxing upsets, using immense skill and belief he blew the myth of Tyson apart forever.
Of course he had to continue and in the following years the infamous Tyson bite and winning rematch against Michael Moorer, confirmed his position as a top heavyweight alongside Lennox Lewis, so heading towards the end of the millenium a unification bout was agreed.
After a disgraceful decision by the judges, somehow seeing a clear Lewis victory as a controversial draw, there was an overriding feeling that Evander had gone to the Well one to many times. Nevertheless there had to be a rematch.
Although Holyfield performed much more credibly in their second bout, with some commentators arguing he won the fight, he did lose and this was surely the time at 37 years of age to bow out, where else was there to go? Well as luck would have it, in the following months John Ruiz became champion. That’s right one of the worst champions in recent history held a version of the title. Whatever thoughts Holyfield was having he must have fancied his chances.
Yet again Holyfield was proved right as he defied his critics and beat Ruiz in a highly disputed point’s decision. Clearly this would be a good time to go as a 4-times champ. Not yet, Ruiz wanted and won a rematch, so what else but a final decider. In a trilogy which at times looked like it failed to capture the fighters’ imagination, let alone the publics, they fought to a disappointing draw in the decider. This trilogy showed how Holyfield was beginning to slip. Without doubt he would have beaten a fighter like Ruiz with ease in his prime.
So now this had to be the time right? Wrong! With Holyfield clearly deteriorating fighters were keen to beat a recognised name to boost their title credentials. Enter Hasim Rahman a good, but not great Heavyweight. Considering the poor show against Ruiz, Holyfield actually looked quite impressive before winning the fight on points due to a grotesque lump on Rahmans head.
After this win Holyfield was ready to challenge for a fifth world title against talented but awkward southpaw IBF champ Chris Byrd.
Again Holyfield's age really showed as Byrd just picked him apart, confusing him with his ringcraft.
So would Holyfield bow out now? No. he blamed the defeat on a combination of a damaged shoulder and Byrds style and vowed to continue until he was undisputed heavyweight champion.
So when will it stop? The authorities clearly are not helping the situation, why is Holyfield placed so high in the rankings? His record including the first Lewis bout is W2 L3 D2. Although these have been against a high level of opposition this is not the record of a top ten heavyweight.
Of course money is a massive factor in boxing and as Evander knows while he can still generate the big bucks he will get his false placement. With his Trainers and friends/hangers-on unable to make him see sense or seemingly unable to influence his decisions, it looks as though he will carry on for the foreseeable future.
I am not anti Holyfield, far from it, I’ve been as impressed as anyone with the manner of some victories, but he should listen to himself, blaming defeat on injuries, legitimate or not and ignoring the facts that he is getting older and his performances are deteriorating. Although Evander is competitive, bravery will equal beatings, particularly with his style of fighting.
On the basis of individual fights he can be considered one of the great heavyweights over the past 15 years, with Lennox Lewis being the only top boxer who he has failed to beat at least once. However if he continues to get defeated in trying to achieve his dream of the undisputed championship, history may not be so kind when viewing his overall record.
It has been shown that since the mid 1990’s there have been opportunities to quit, but Holyfield like most boxers before him has always found a reason to carry on. Let’s hope he leaves before he receives the inevitable beating either against Toney or a future opponent, ala Louis V Marciano, or Ali V Holmes. Or on a more serious note with the voice beginning to slur and the body slowing down he should leave before he is unable to remember a career that marks him out as one of the all time greats.
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