Holyfield; Please, Please Continue

Evander5Evander5Instantly noticeable in the aftermath of Evander Holyfield’s, 42(27)-9-2, latest attempt to annex a portion of the fractured heavyweight title was the lack of demand for his retirement. Ronnie Shields and Freddie Roach both spoken openly of their preference for the 45 year old to hang up his gloves, it’s becoming a habit for Roach who distanced himself from his own charge, James Toney in recent months too, but the en mass clamour for his retirement hasn’t reached the fever pitch it did following his slam-dunk losses to Larry Donald, in 2004, and the aforementioned Toney in 2003.

The story, of Holyfield’s age, eroding ability and delusion is not new. In truth, he has become a parody of himself. He was, after all, considered shot and worn out as long ago as 1996 before the famous victories over Mike Tyson, more recently the New York commission’s decision to revoke his licence in 2004 was regarded as the death knell to his illustrious career. Put out to pasture with dignity before some hungry young puncher did, inflicting further damage in the process. ‘Saving Holyfield from himself’ the story went. It would always take more than three well intended bureaucrats to keep the old dog down.

Holyfield just kept on believing. Kept the faith. Found opponents he could beat, found an excuse he could sell; the shoulder injury and slowly, incredibly the expiring career was resuscitated. The renaissance of support was palpable too. It became fashionable to believe again, to clamber aboard the bandwagon. Wizened hacks began to evangelise about his recuperation and about the possibility of him winning a title bout. Something he hadn’t done since squeaking past John Ruiz in 2000.

Suddenly, the campaign, the quest had something Holyfield lacked. Legs. I admit. I succumbed. Not entirely. But I began to believe too. I ignored the evidence presented; the questionable Oquendo decision, the inactivity of Savarese and the crude limitations of Bates and Maddalone, the birth certificate placing him as a child of the 1960’s, the cumulative effect of the wars he’d survived, manifesting itself in a deeper drawl to his voice and a heavier brow. I let my heart lead my head.

Like so many, I looked across the men holding belts and found little to condemn the notion of a Holyfield victory as the nonsense it proved to be. Even 50% of Evander Holyfield could overcome the likes of Chagaev and Ibragimov, couldn’t he? I suspect, like the generation that preceded me in embracing George Foreman’s rejection of the perceived wisdom that age is a barrier to achievement, I wanted to believe more than I actually could.

I wanted Holyfield to prove it was possible to aspire beyond your thirties. To reach for physical and professional success without the fuel of youth in the tank. Showing a child of my time could still rule the world (I wont allow the fact he’s a decade older than me interfere here). 

But he got beat. With ease.

Now I’m back from Narnia I can’t bring myself to add my voice to the campaign for his forced ejection from the sport because I know its pointless. I do, along with everyone who cherishes Evander Holyfield and the sport he graced, fear where the story will end. Holyfield, inevitably, plans to continue. He hopes to find ways to improve and adjust to be more successful in the future. A delusion at the age of 45? More than likely. Boxing will be rocked to its boots if Holyfield does suffer in the ring in the future, and will suffer more if he eventually experiences the type of problems Mike Quarry, Greg Page and Muhammad Ali endured when the final curtain drops on his long career.

But, as it seems the boxing world has finally digested, telling Evander Holyfield to quit is simply pissing in the wind. So they’ve stopped asking.

8 thoughts on “Holyfield; Please, Please Continue

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  1. Manfredo is a gutsy pug. But he’s not a Super-Middleweight and he’s not world class.

    Our British Middleweight champion, Wayne Elcock would beat him.

    I’m not sure heavyweight boxing is dead, I think American heavyweight boxing is, unless Witherspoon comes through.

    And yep, too many belts. I just wish TV networks would begin their own independent rankings or reject the bodies full stop.


  2. Hey David,

    I didn’t mean to give off the impression that I thought all boxing was dead…just heavyweight boxing.

    Actually, I think the other weight classes are doing just fine.

    I still think there are too many belts.

    Don’t you?

    And what do you think of Peter Manfredo?


  3. Eric.

    They, who ever they are, have been telling us boxing is in the gutter for longer than you or I have been following the sport.

    New combat sports come and go, but boxing remains the constant. True the American heavyweight picture may be pretty empty right now but globally the sport is very healthy.

    Coverage in the UK, is arguably at an all time high, Eastern Europe – professional boxing now embraced – is churning out contenders from every dirty corner of the former Soviet block.

    South America, Africa….all hooked on boxing. It’s just America that got fat and disinterested in following the fistic trail, easier to make money playing football or basketball. And of course, a small theory ready to be trodden on, the country is generally more affluent than it once was.


  4. Boxing is slowly ruining “The Real Meal”. His 50’s are shaping up to be a real horror story. He should have quit long ago. He’s starting to remind me of the character in Hannibal, who eats his own brain and enjoys it.
    The Sultan on Sports



  5. Why would Holyfield want to be a part of a sport like boxing any longer than he needs to?

    He doesn’t.

    To me, it seems that its much less about proving to people that a guy in his 40’s can still fight…and much more about money.

    Just look to his appearance at a WWE event a little while back…he looked slow and tired against a guy who didn’t even fight back.

    Holyfield is taking advantage of a sport that lacks ANY superstars at the heavyweight level. Even a boxer with diminished skills like him can land a high profile bout because of his name…and boxing promoters know that people will tune in to watch Holyfield, even if he has become a mediocre fighter at best.

    Lets face it, heavyweight boxing is dead, and people like Holyfield are the only ones keeping it alive. There are too many belts, and unless they can have one belt per division, an UNDISPUTED heavyweight champion…boxing will never climb its way out of the gutter.


  6. Ahh, nostalgia. I haven’t watched a boxing match since Douglas took down Tyson in Japan, so I can’t say anything about Holyfield’s condition now; however, I remember when he was cheated of his gold medal so many years ago. Maybe the whole that left is driving him still today.

    He certainly has a great spirit. And he won all those matches without ever biting anyone’s ear off. I hope he does shock the world with a championship win, but most of all I hope he is living a satisfying life.


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