Francois Botha has tried many things to stay relevant and keep earning including a hapless foray into that form of combat that needs no introduction beyond its initials. The veteran South African is in the Autumn, arguably Winter, of his fluctuating career. A career, lest we forget, which has variously included Michael Moorer, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and shortly, Evander Holyfield too. For some reason his proposed match with fellow heavyweight grandfather Evander Holyfield has me intrigued. Regulars will know I have some curious vices.
Sceptics will point to Evander’s history of agreeing to fights in the far flung corners of the globe before extracting himself. To be fair to the old stager, some of those fights were arranged in an era when travelling abroad carried the risk of scurvy and being boarded by Jack Sparrow. But foreign travel is the preserve of the American heavyweight these days as the world-title picture has moved and is no longer shot in the West.
Perhaps an African fight for the WBF bauble 41 year old Botha laughingly suggests make him a world-champion will reinvent the one time leading man. Perhaps a title Out of Africa can be the ageing cowboy’s City Slickers. That sounded clever in my head, it looks awkward on screen. Never mind. Like mess’s Botha and Holyfield, and their combined 88 years of life experience, I’m a little long in the tooth to feel compelled to justify my fascination with their proposed fight. I would just love to see the fight come off.
If it does, it will be in Uganda on January 16th. A victory would refresh Holyfield’s cobwebbed ledger – he has been inactive since December 2008 – and could contentiously reposition him with the WBA body who sanctioned his fight Nicolay Valuev last year. History tells me it is only a matter of time before they succumb to the temptation to ratify an interim championship while David Haye, Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko unify their respective belts. Don King suggested he’d secured this accreditation for a Ruslan Chagaev v Kali Meehan bout but the John Ruiz camp and WBA have both denied this is the case.
Even Don King’s ebbing influence will eventually suffice in shifting the sanctioning body one suspects.