It’s become biography week for me, so he’s another, and yes another boxer, this time the real deal, the first undisputed Cruiserweight champion and one of the most contraversial fighters of the 90’s (I know he was fighting in the 80’s but the controversies seem more based in the 90’s). One of the boxers that seem to split opinions more than any others, whether this is a good thing or not isn’t up for debate as I welcome you to this article on “The Real Deal”.
Evander Holyfield was born on October 19, 1962 in Atmore, Alabama (could be why he sounds so punchy…or maybe he is in fact punchy =/).
Holyfield is an olympic Bronze medalist (L.A. 1984) at the Light heavyweight division, a division that he never conquered in the professional ranks, due to being DQ’s in the semi’s in a fight against Kevin Barry of New Zealand. Wow my two articles of the day have both been screwed in the olympics, you learn something new everyday.
Holyfield fought a couple of fights at lightheavyweight in the pro ranks but didn’t stay their long enough to leave an impression as his body was argueably never suited to 175lb, and he moved upto what was then the 190 division (cruiserweight limit is now 200lb). In his 12th professional fight, and after less than 2 years in the pro ranks he fought for the WBA cruiserweigth strap against Dwight Muhammad Qawi, who was seen as one of the most exciting fights in the division (and someone that did some what legitamice the division that was always considered a joke division, or a stepping stone for the heavyweights).
World champion I:
Evander won this on a split decision, a fight that both men thought they’d won and argueably the finest cruiserweight fight ever. Holyfield followed this up with 7 straight ko (or TKO victories) and picking up another belt for his travels against Ricky Parkey (IBF) and adding to it again with a win over Carlos De Leon for the WBC strap. The fight before the De Leon fight was a rematch with Qawi which no one could argue with, Holyfield winning by 4th round KO.
Move up to heavyweight:
Like David Haye is expected to do within the next few months, and any cruiserweight worth his salt does, The real deal dipped his toes into the Heavyweight division, beating James “quick” Tillis (the first man to take Tyson to the final bell) by KO in 5. He followed this up with wins over Pinklon Thomas and Michael Dokes (two more Tyson victims) to gain some sort of creditability in the heavyweight division.
World Champion II:
25th of October 1990 he did what Tyson had failed to do and beat the man who dispelled the myth about “Iron Mike” by KO’ing James Buster Douglas in just 3 rounds. Wahts more remarkable about this is Douglas outweighed Holyfield by around 36 pounds (admittedly since the win over Tyson Douglas had bloated a fair bit). The win earned Holyfield the heavyweight titles from the WBA, WBC and IBF the same 3 titles Tyson held only 8 months earlier.
He made defences against George Foreman (of whom it seems Holyfield wants to beat his record for oldest person to win the title), Bert Cooper and Larry Holmes.
The first loss:
The next defence was against olympic silver medalist, Riddick Bowe and the start of one of the best heavyweight trilogies since the days of Marciano. Bowe won a unanamous decision over Holyfield and in the process ripped the belts away from Evander. He started his comeback with a win over Alex Stewart (no not the former English cricketer) before getting a rematch with Bowe.
The champion III and the fan man:
Bowe had been dominating the fight for the first 7 or so rounds, using his excellecnt jab and forcing Holyfiled to eat it with Evander looking slow and not his usual self powerful, fleet footed self. When a man in a parachute dropped through the open roof and got tangled in the ropes, in one of the strangest moments in all of boxing history the man was basically beaten senseless by the crowd whilst the match was basically paused. When the fight was resumed some 20 mins later Bowe had seemingly not kept warm and Evander walked away with a close decision win. This moment can be seen on youtube and has been parodied on the Simpsons where Moe can be seen saving Homer from more punishment.
Losing it all over again:
In the following fight he faced the undefeated Michael Moorer, who ended up winning a marjority decision (2 Judges felt Moorer had won, one thought they were even, as opposed to a split decision which is 2 think one guy has won, the other judge has the other man winning).
After this fight he was converted to christianity due to Benny Hinn who “cured” Evander of a heart defect or soemthing (it was never really clear to those in the know, so I have no chance).
Moorer then lost the titles to former Holyfield victim Foreman, whilst Holyfield went on to face Ray Mercer who he decked in the second (to the suprise of many, due to the fact Mercers chin was almost as solid as Geogre Chavulo’s).
He then went on to face Bowe in the rubber match, in which he decked Bowe early on before being stopped himself. Claiming to have contracted Hep. A before the fight and losing it due to that, a pattern that often plagues Holyfields career is that an “illness” is to blame for many of his defeats.
The comeback II:
The next fight for The Warrior was Bobby Cyzy another former Cruiserweight who had stepped up, and was TKO’d in 5 by Evander before he got the fight that was meant to happen years earlier.
In 1991 before Tysons rape conviction he was scheduled to face the new champion, Holyfield, but instead got himself injured in training then arrested and charged for the rape of Desiree Washington. The fight was now scheduled, finally to happen, Tyson way past his best and Evander looking like he wasn’t at his best. Going into it Tyson had gotten a hold of the WBA title, and Evander was wanting to make it three times a heavyweight champion (a feat only Muhammed Ali had achieved by then).
Champion IV (heavyweight III):
The fight was a pretty dominant display by Holyfield before the 11th round TKO he scored over Tyson. Evander had again captured a World Heavyweight title and had set one of the highest PPV sales of any sporting event.
The rematch though (which broke the records for the first fight) is the bestter remembered of the two fights, but for all the wrong reasons.
In the third round Tyson had been pretty much getting his ass kicked by Evander, commited one of the worst acts seen in the sport of boxing (and lets be fair, the sport isn’t known for it’s integerity). Tyson bit off Evanders ears (yes both of them) and spat them both onto the canvas before Mills Lane DQ’ed Tyson. Tyson claimed it to be retaliation for the headbutts he’d recieved in this and the previous match, but none the less had his liscence revoked.
Holyfield’s next fight was against a man who had previously beaten him, Michael Moorer, who was in possession of the IBF title as Holyfield was wanting to claiming the undisputed championship of the world (basically holding the major titles). Moorer was out of it in the 8th when he was TKO’d.
More controversy-The Lewis Fights:
As also written on my Lennox Lewis article, the two fought at “The Garden” on the 13th March 1999. Despite Lewis heavily dominating the fight the judges some how ruled a draw, the uproar from the crowd showed they hadn’t agreed with the result, and neither had the sports writers there and then. Many asking how a unification fight for the WBA, WBC and IBF title could have such poor judging. 8 Months later a rematch was held, which was actually a lot closer than the first, and a lot closer than the scores show, though Lewis stripped Holyfield of his titles by a UD win.
Champion V (Heavyweight IV):
Lewis faced Tua after the second Holyfield fight, a fight that many fans of the sport supported, but the WBA disliked Lewis decision and so stripped him of their title (Tua had beaten Ruiz not long before). With the Vacant WBA title up for grabs Evander and John “The Quiet man” Ruiz faced off. Holyfield trying to become the first ever 4 time-world-heavyweight-champion, a feat he succseeded in with a close points win against the negative Ruiz.
Many said that Evander was as good as done, and should retire on top, but instead he faced Ruiz twice more, losing one and drawing the final one.
The Chase for another title I:
Next came former Lewis beater Hasim Rahman, a fight ended in a technical victory for Evander after a clash of heads left Rahman with an ugly lump on his head (pictures can be found google if you really wish to see it). The fight was an eliminator for the WBA title, strangely there was no fight for the WBA title to follow but one for the vacant IBF title.
The fight for the IBF title was against Chris “Rapid Fire” Byrd, a guy who many think would have made a wonderful cruiserweight, and had started his career nearer the super middleweight limit (he debuted at 169, the smw limit being 168). Evander lost this to the slick Byrd by unanimous points decision.
Two more losses on the run make it a hatrick:
Evander then went on to face James Toney, himself a former Middle, Supermiddle weight, Light heavy (yes I include the WBU), Cruiserweight and heavyweight (yes I include IBA). Being TKO’d in the 9th with his corner throwing the towel in.
Next came Larry Donald, an opponent Evander in his prime would have had to carry for the fight to have lasted more than 6 rounds, Larry won by UD and follwing this the NYSAC (New York State Athletic Commitee) rovked his liscence, with other major states following.
Dancing with the stars:
In 2005 Evander entered the USA version of Strictly come Dancing and came fifth with his partner Edyta Sliwinska (a show that other boxers have oddly been in as well, with Kostya Tszyu and Floyd Mayweather Jr also appearing).
After the popularity of this he seemed to regain his liscence, that he’d lost for “dimishing ability”…we must assume that dancing ability leads to boxing ability…then again watch Kostya’s KO of Zab Judah to prove thats not the case.
Holyfield reeled off back to back victories against Jeremy Bates, Fres Oquendo, Vinny Maddalone and Lou Sarvarse before getting one more shot at that damn title he seems to need. Losing to Sultan Ibragimov, a guy who a prime Holyfield would have not only eaten for breakfeast but a guy who thankfully for Evander, doesn’t have a giant dig on him. Ibragimov’s point’s win is hopfully the final fight in a colourful career of Evander Holyfield who is now 45.
With the heavyweight seen as being in tatters by the American media and by the boxing fans who think America needs a world heavyweight champion Evander is bound to continue to try and take a belt off one of the champions, sadly I can’t see him collecting a major belt (try the WBF perhaps?…they once aknowledged Audley Harrison as their title holder…). Sadly theirs too many big hitters for Evander to stay away from such as Wladimir Klitschko, Samuel Peter and even our own David Haye who could seriously hurt Evander, and his legacy is already being hurt by every fight he has. A prime Evander would beat most of the champions out that such as Ruslan Chagaev, Oleg Maskaev but with the up coming fights and their fresh legs I’d advise him to retire before his whole legacy is tainted.