In truth Evander Holyfield’s status as a boxing legend is already assured. Any fighter who has clashed with Holmes, Bowe, Foreman, Lewis and Tyson, irrespective of their age and form at the time, is clearly a world-class operator and the manner of Holyfield’s performances during his pomp endeared him to a generation, or two, of boxing fans. His latest run at the title, as a forty something has on occasion looked capable of undermining all of his preceding achievements, but Evander, the most irrepressible of men, may yet have the last laugh. Thanks to the withdrawal of Ruslan Chagaev, he has his shot.
Travelling to Moscow in October, Evander Holyfield will tackle Sultan Ibragimov in a quest to secure a portion of the heavyweight title for a fifth time. Surpassing the achievements of any of his predecessors. It represents a significant opportunity for Ibragimov to make major money and Holyfield, who has made believers of the sceptics following some improved performances, has it in his hands to deliver on what he regards as his destiny.
Will a 45 year old heavyweight champion represent a peak or trough for the division? Hard to say, but for all the miles the old man has travelled, fighting in Moscow – with all the Rocky IV connotations – will undoubtedly stir interest in the flagging American market for whom Holyfield’s tale will be a marketable parable.