15 Years Ago Today, "The Real Deal" Avenges His Loss To "Big Daddy" In Second Fight Of Legendary Trilogy
06.11.08 - by James Slater - Exactly 15 years ago today, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield put on an odds-defying performance that went a long way towards making him the legend he is today. Meeting the much bigger Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe, the only man to have ever beaten him, for a second time, Holyfield pulled off the upset and got his revenge - in so doing paving the way for a third and deciding fight between two of the 1990's greatest heavyweights.
Article posted on 07.11.2008
Holyfield, then aged 31 and with a record of 29-1, had taken a pretty bad beating from the 26-year-old and then undefeated (34-0) Bowe the previous November. Losing his undisputed heavyweight titles while losing a clear UD in a fight that also saw him hit the canvas for only the second time in his career, Evander was even urged to retire by some people. These people knew nothing about the inner steel and resolve of the former and undefeated cruiserweight king though. No way was "The Real Deal" going to retire after his maiden loss - hell, the man is still fighting today, some 15 years and 23 bouts on!
So the rematch was signed, almost a year to the day after fight one, and Bowe-Holyfield part two was on. Now trained by Emanuel Steward after having parted ways with Lou Duva and George Benton, Holyfield was determined to get his revenge over the man who had punished him in an epic encounter 12 months ago. Bowe, coming in for the third defence of his WBA and IBF titles (he'd relinquished the WBC strap rather than face Lennox Lewis), had gained a significant amount of weight since the first time he'd met Holyfield. It told in the fight. Holyfield, too, had gained some weight, but his additional pounds were all muscle, not fat. This also told in the rematch.
As did the game-plan Steward had devised for Holyfield. Giving Bowe angles, as opposed to tearing straight at his man and having a macho war with the bigger fighter as he had previously done, the 217 pound Holyfield (some 12 pounds heavier than fight# 1) soon had the 246 pound champ (some 11 pounds heavier than fight#1) breathing hard and looking distressed. Already Holyfield had shocked the experts who felt nothing but a painful KO awaited him, but then, as he was really getting into his groove, another factor took place that the fight is remembered for.
James Miller, AKA "Fan Man," dropped in with the aid of his motorised parachute, and the fight had to be halted for well over a quarter of an hour in round 7. Nobody could quite believe what they were seeing, and as misguided Miller's misguided aim saw to it that he failed to do as he wanted to and land square in the ring, a number of irate fans took it upon themselves to give him a pretty fierce beating. Miller was eventually taken to hospital, having achieved his few minutes of fame. And then the two warriors, who had been making a concerted effort to keep warm, went back at it.
12 highly engrossing rounds later, the final bell rang and the two men awaited the verdict. Well, after a few seconds of overtime they did; for both Bowe and Holyfield continued to fight for a few seconds after the final bell - a practice the two men frequently took part in in their great trilogy. When it was finally all over, though, a jubilant Holyfield was announced as the majority winner and "Once again, Heavyweight Champion of The World!" by M.C Michael Buffer. There were no bad feelings between the two rivals, as they showed by embracing and then conducting a joint interview.
The stage was now set for part three, the final act. This time two years would go by before they met again, but when they did another highly dramatic battle took place.
For now though, Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield could bask in the glory of one of his finest victories. One that made him a three-time world champion!
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