Holyfield gets his chance!

evander holyfield02.08.07 - By Geoffrey Ciani: WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev has recently withdrawn from a scheduled unification bout with WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov. As a result, former four-time champion, Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield, will finally get the opportunity he’s been waiting for ever since losing his last title bid against Chris Byrd in 2002—another title shot!

For years, Holyfield has stated he wanted to retire as undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. After losing the undisputed title to Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe in 1992, the closest Holyfield came to accomplishing this goal was in back-to-back bouts against Lennox Lewis in 1999.

The first bout was dubiously ruled a draw, in a contest almost everyone agreed was won by Lewis. The rematch was more competitive, but Lewis again proved too much for Holyfield and was ultimately awarded the decision (and the undisputed championship).

Many felt this loss signified the end of Holyfield’s career; Holyfield thought otherwise.

After losing to Lewis, Holyfield would go on to recapture a portion of the heavyweight title when he battled John Ruiz for the vacant WBA championship (which was inexplicably stripped from Lewis following his bout with Evander due to political reasons). In one of the most unmemorable trilogies in boxing history, Holyfield lost the title in the rematch, before falling short with a draw in the rubber match.

Not long after, he was awarded a title elimination bout against Hasim Rahman. This bout ended when an accidental head-butt caused a grotesque lump on Rahman’s head which looked like something out of a bad science fiction film. This earned him another shot at the title, and he squared off against Chris Byrd for the vacant IBF title (which was another title stripped from Lewis, although this one was stripped under less dubious circumstances).

Once again, Holyfield would fall short in his bid to regain a portion of the championship. Following the loss to Byrd, Holyfield suffered back-to-back losses against James “Lights Out” Toney and Larry “The Legend” Donald. This appeared to mark the end of an illustrious career, but boxing is the sport of comebacks, and Holyfield wasn’t about to go off quietly into the night.

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, Holyfield made his return in August 2006 when he fought the unheralded Jeremy Bates. Holyfield looked good, and stopped the overmatched Bates in two rounds. Later that year, he outclassed Fres Oquendo, and in doing so, looked as good as he had in years. This was followed by wins against Vinny Maddalone and Lou Savarese. After stringing together four victories in less than a year, Holyfield had firmly planted himself back in title contention.

That’s where we stand now.

On October 13, Evander Holyfield will be getting another crack at the heavyweight title when he challenges WBO champion Ibragimov. In his most recent comeback, he’s looked much better than he has in a long time, but at 44 years of age can we honestly expect Evander to compete against a 32 year old champion in the prime of his career? Time will tell, but if Holyfield does manage to somehow pull off the upset, it will be interesting, to say the least!

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Article posted on 03.08.2007

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