Evander Holyfield - “Diminished Skills”

16.08.05 - By Craig Parrish: The New York State Athletic Commission banned former Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield from boxing. The commission, however, lifted the medical suspension that had been placed earlier of Holyfield as he passed a battery of tests with a clean bill of health. The ban was put in place due to “Diminished skills." The last time Holyfield fought was a loss to Larry Donald on November 13th of last year. In his last nine fights, he is 2-5-2. In the fight against Donald, Holyfield looked sluggish and exhausted from nearly the opening bell, even though he had tremendous physique. He was unable to put together combinations. His punches lacked power. “Diminished skills” is an understatement based on this and several other recent performances.

Yet the man has a clean bill of health. Although he is older, Holyfield still has the desire to fight.

It is apparent that the Commission feels he is at risk of injury in the ring. But isn’t a Fighter always at risk when he steps through the ropes?

How do you establish the criteria to ban a fighter based on skill level? I would venture to say that there are many fighters out there who don’t even come close to the eroded skill level of the present day Holyfield. Given the recent performances of Riddick Bowe and the newly “unretired” Thomas Hearns, not to mention the endless “farewell tour” of Julio Cesar Chavez, it seems to be a very subjective ruling, perhaps based solely on Holyfield’s high profile.

Obviously, it is a different situation than the recent ruling against Joe Mesi, who had suffered multiple brain bleeds after the fight with Vasili Jirov. Cat Scans don’t lie. And though Mesi’s Neurologist can testify that the ruptures have healed and that he is not at greater risk than any other fighter the fact remains that the brain did bleed. End of story.
As a longtime admirer of Evander Holyfield, I wish he would retire. Watching him in the ring is depressing, especially as you look back at the stellar ring career the man once had. He certainly does not need the money. But he simply can’t walk away. The competitor in him still wants to fight. In fact, his Manager is reportedly already looking for a bout for him in Europe. So more than likely he will continue to fight anyway.

Should Holyfield be allowed to continue to Box? Is he at greater risk than other Heavyweights currently out there? Hard to say. George Foreman won the title at age 45, although Holyfield obviously has never had the power that Big George had. Regardless, it is a sad ending to a great career. Whatever Evander Holyfield decides to do next, I wish him well. And thanks for the memories.

Article posted on 16.08.2005

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