Holyfield V Bates - A Fight No-one Should Watch?

04.07.06 - By James Slater: At the very least, retirement has been beckoning for Evander Holyfield since the TKO he suffered at the hands of James "Lights Out" Toney back in October of 2003. Before this bout, boxing's warrior promised he'd quit for good if and when someone beat him up sufficiently so as to make the decision to fight no more unavoidable.

But despite the painful lesson he received from Toney, Evander failed to keep his word. And now, after yet one more embarrassing loss - this one on points to journeyman Larry Donald - Holyfied is giving it another go. He says the way one ends a career is far more important than how it was begun. And as such believes the final chapter of his storied career should see him capture the heavyweight title one more time. Only then will he retire feeling content. So, later this summer, in Dallas, Texas, "The Real Deal" faces one Jeremy Bates. A thirty two year old with a modest 21 - 11 - 1 record, who, in his last fight, was TKO'd in two rounds by Ray Austin.

Without disrespecting Bates, the answer to the title of this article and its question becomes apparent when one considers the credentials of the guys Evander is fighting these days. Quite simply, he must retire if he loses to such a nondescript opponent as Jeremy Bates.

Evander is an all-time great fighter, after all. As a boxer who is winless in his last three fights, and who has had his hand raised in triumph only once in the last six years, Evander is clearly taking the least risk he can in his next ring appearance - he is positively desperate to put a result in his win column.

The scary thing though, is that Jeremy, an honest club fighter with absolutely nothing to lose, just might manage a win. He finds himself in a once-in-a-lifetime position, and surely will train accordingly. This could prove to be bad news for Holyfield. Let's face it, Evander has next to nothing left. His combination punching, along with his timing, reflexes and coordination, deserted him a long time ago. In his recent efforts, Evander has looked stiff and slow - while his offensive moves were merely wild looking and clumsy swings. Such displays have been a sad thing to witness when we recall how great a fighter he was in his heyday. The only attributes Evander has in his possession that are in any way akin to what they were in his prime are his chiselled physique and incredible heart. The latter is what is concerning most experts as he prepares for combat once more. Evander is too brave for his own good, and many are worried that he may get seriously hurt fighting in his current condition. With his heart as big as ever, but with vastly diminished skills to accompany it, the fear is he may take a quite damaging beating.

Such a thing, if it does come at all - obviously we all hope it does not - may not happen in the fight with Bates. But what if Evander does get the win, a win he feels will restart his momentum? With the stubbornness he has shown in the past, it is conceivable that Evander would choose to box on even if he was DEFEATED by Bates. It goes without saying then, that Evander will in no way quit if he does get a win. This means we are almost certainly going to have to endure more tarnishing of a once great boxer and his accomplishments. Only a comprehensive defeat could possibly make Holyfield see sense, but even then, as I've said this is far from absolute.

When one considers the brutal fights Evander has been involved in, and the number and frequency of them also, it is quite insane for the man to think he has anything left to offer in the toughest of all sports. He is often heard to say how this is his life and therefore it is his choice in how he is living it. He, as everyone else, is entitled to the pursuit of happiness. But we too, are free to act how we see fit. And it might well be that if we were prepared to boycott Evander's future fights this could leave him with no alternative but retirement. But as long as people are willing to both watch Evander box, and pay him for his services, he is to receive a positive message towards fulfilling what he feels is his destiny.

As one of boxing's more honourable magazines said a while back, we owe it to Evander, and ourselves, to do the decent thing and not tune in to, or be present at, any more of his fights. Indeed, such actions may be the only thing capable of bringing a halt to this once great fighter's career. We should not watch him (try to) fight ever again!

Article posted on 05.07.2006

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