Evander Holyfield In "Top Condition" For Aug 18 Return, Trainers Say

Holyfield vs Bates07.08.06 - HOUSTON, TEXAS ---For those who believe 4-time world heavyweight champion, Evander Holyfield, has little left to fight with when he returns to the ring to face Jeremy Bates (American Airlines Center, Dallas, August 18), his trainers, Ronnie Shields and Tim Hallmark, have a message for them -- don't count Evander Holyfield out, just yet.

Holyfield himself has put out the message that he's determined to become boxing's first and only five-time world heavyweight champion. Now, after several months in the gym and Holyfield winding down training for his upcoming fight, his trainers are saying that the idea is not so farfetched..

"I know this may sound crazy to some, but I'm telling you, Evander is in the best shape he's been in for the past ten years," stated Shields, Holyfield's respected boxing trainer who has guided fifteen world champions.

"If he performs the way he's been performing in the gym, I truly believe he has a real chance with anyone out there."

Hallmark, Holyfield's long-time personal trainer and strength conditioning coach, has been pleasantly surprised, but not shocked at Holyfield's progress. "It's really amazing how he (Holyfield) has come back and gotten himself into top condition," said Hallmark, who has been at Holyfield's side for 20 years.

"But then again, nothing that Evander Holyfield surprises me. I agree with Ronnie -- this is the best I have seen him in a long time. It's been a while since I can remember him being 100% healthy and able to do all that he needs to do in the fitness gym and at the track with me."

Both Shields and Hallmark point to the 20 month layoff (last fight - loss to Larry Donald, November 13, 1004) as being the best thing that could have happened for Holyfield, if he were to continue his career.

"No question, taking the time off has been a blessing for Evander," Shields continued. "More than anything else, Evander now has two healthy shoulders and he's training without pain. There's a big difference in what we can do in the gym, especially sparring."

Ditto on conditioning, according to Hallmark. "It's really amazing all the things Evander can do again on the conditioning side, now that he doesn't have any pain," claimed Hallmark.

"To be honest, I was very skeptical about him fighting again, not because he couldn't fight anymore, but mostly because he just couldn't get his shoulder well and keep from cramping. All of that has gone away and for the first time in five years or so, he and I can finally do our jobs in getting him ready properly. It's very exciting and motivating to see him this way."

According to Shields, Holyfield started sparring two weeks ago and is working approximately 15 rounds a week. "At Evander's age, the important thing is not necessarily a lot of sparring, but quality sparring," he noted. "And Evander is looking really good in sparring right now, which wasn't the case in his last couple of fights."

Sparring partner Adam Richards, agrees with Shields assessment. "Hey, I'm surprised myself," said Richards, a talented 13-1 pro from Murfreesboro, TN. "Evander is a lot stronger and quicker that I expected. The old man is not so old. He's kicking my butt right now. Anyone who isn't taking him serious is mistaken."

Looking good in the gym doesn't always translate into a good performance on fight night, especially at 43 years old, as Shields knows. "You never know what to expect from 43 year old fighters," acknowledged Shields.

"But Evander is no ordinary 43 year old athlete. "He's not only healthy and in great shape, but really believes his will in God and inner strength will carry him through anything. That's how he beat 16 world champions and won the world heavyweight title, four times. That's a powerful thing and the way he's looking in the gym and the fact he is now healthy, there's no way I can doubt him right now, until he's proven otherwise.

"Hopefully people understand what this means to Evander and how serious he is. They need to give him an opportunity to play this out and see where it goes."

Article posted on 07.08.2006

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