Evander Holyfield, What if?

09.08.06 - By Scott Kurtz: "Hes not a real heavyweight" my brother kept telling me after Evander knocked out Buster Douglas to become the undisputed heavyweight champion. "Hes a paper champion and a real heavyweight is going to punch right through him," he would say. My brother never thought much of Evander until November13th 1992 when he lost his title to Riddick Bowe. Like many others, my brother became a fan of the Real Deal that night. The 10th round was one of the greatest displays of heart and courage ever seen in boxing. Evander was out on his feet by an uppercut 30 seconds into the round surviving a hellacious onslaught by a much bigger fighter for the next two minutes. The last minute of the round Evander recovered and started pounding Bowe with power shots stunning him the last 20 seconds of the round. Although Evander would go on to lose his belts that night, he proved without a doubt that he was a true champion..

Evander regained his championship from Bowe in a rematch and would go on to fight the best fighters of the 1990s. He was written off in 1995 with his second loss to Riddick Bowe. Evander was encouraged to retire before he was permanently hurt. After a lackluster performance with Bobby Czyz , he signed to fight Mike Tyson. There was outrage and concern that Holyfield would not only be hurt but could possibly die in the ring. Evander proved everyone wrong by dominating and knocking out "Iron" Mike Tyson. He followed the Tyson victory and "eargate" with a dominating KO over IBF heavyweight champ Michael Moorer.

Attempting to unify the titles, next in line was WBC champ Lennox Lewis. Although I am a huge Holyfield fan, I recognize that he lost both fights to Lennox although the first one was officially a draw. Evander was 36 years old at the time an managed to hold his own against the largest most dominate "giant" heavyweight in boxing history. Evander followed that fight with a victory over John Ruiz to earn the vacated WBA title.
What if Evander retired in August of 2000 after beating John Ruiz and winning the vacant WBA title?

Evander would retire with 37 wins, 4 losses and one draw. His wins include victories over Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Michael Moore, Ray Mercer, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, James Douglas, Michael Dokes, Pinklon Thomas, Carlos Deleon and Dwight Muhammad Qawi. He was the first boxer in history to unify the cruiserweight division. He was the recognized heavyweight champion three times and the only man in history to win a heavyweight title on four separate occasions.

Three of his four losses were to giant heavyweights Riddick Bowe & Lennox Lewis in their prime where Evander was outweighed by more than 35 lbs. Either Bowe or Lewis in their prime could beat any heavyweight in history on any given day. The fact that a former light heavy could hold his own and compete with the two best giants in heavyweight history is truly amazing. The other loss came to a prime Michael Moorer when Evander was fighting with a heart condition.

I believe had the Evander retired on August of 2000 after winning a piece of the heavyweight title, he would be remembered as a top 10 heavyweight champion, possibly even top 5.

Holyfield will fight Jeremy Bates in Dallas on August 18th. At 43, he clearly is not the fighter he once was. How all the recent losses will affect his legacy remains to be seen but in his prime the Real Deal was a great heavyweight champion. He would give any heavyweight in history the fight of their life.

Article posted on 09.08.2006

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