Evander Holyfield a Done Deal

24.08.06 - By Aaron King: Those listening to local sports radio in Pittsburgh last evening may have heard an unusual and scarcely uttered phrase trickle from their speakers – “In boxing news…”

Indeed there was boxing news this past weekend. Evander Holyfield needed only two rounds to dispatch Jeremy Bates en route to a TKO victory last Friday night. After reviewing some fight notes, the radio host asked, “So, what will be next for Evander Holyfield?”

Let’s review before attempting to answer this question. Holyfield’s victory over Bates was his first since June of 2002 when he beat Hasim Rahman via head butt. “The Beast” now has, after his loss to Holyfield, a dazzling record of 21-12-2. Bates was actually able to stun “Commander Vander” early in the second round. Holyfield is 43 years old..

So, once again, what is next for Evander Holyfield? Honestly, I didn’t hear the answer on the radio. I was too hung up on the question itself. Rather, I was hung up on the fact that it was asked at all.

It’s really very simple. There is no next for Holyfield. The only piece of evidence needed lies in these statements made by each man after the fight.

Said Holyfield: “He threw a good right hand. I saw it, but it still knocked me off balance.”

Bates went on to say, “I thought, ‘Oh my God, I just caught Evander Holyfield.’”

It was over a decade ago that Holyfield was seeing right hands from Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson and making them miss. At least, he wasn’t getting wobbled by the first one that landed. Now, here he his, flailing into the ropes from a right hand delivered by a guy who was in awe just being in the ring with him.

It’s been five years since Holyfield lost to John Ruiz, prompting most of the boxing public to implore for “The Real Deal” to be a done deal. But here we are, only weeks from Holyfield’s 44th birthday and another hurdle in the “comeback.”

Evidently, a fight with Sinan Samil Sam scheduled for November is expected to be announced in a week or two. The Turkish fighter is no world-beater between the ropes, but he is a considerable step up from Jeremy Bates, and anybody who believes that Holyfield’s showing on Friday is an indication of what may occur on the November date is as ignorant as Holyfield himself.

Evander continues to point to the fact that he is still younger than the George Foreman who knocked Michael Moorer into dreamland to win a piece of the heavyweight crown in 1994. He sticks to his guns and says that it’s the injuries that have prohibited him from performing in the last four years or so. He claims now to be healthy after his 19-month, New York state commission induced adjournment from the ring. He said he didn’t need the victory to prove that there was never a drop off in his actual ability in the ring, but it was good for the Doubting Thomases of the world to see.

Yes, shoulder and back problems explain why a bottom-tier journeyman could hit and hurt Holyfield with a slow right hand that Evander saw coming the whole way. And he thinks that everyone else has the problem in perception.

Holyfield expects to get a title shot within a year as he continues his comeback, which, if successful, would rank just as high as the ones forged by Foreman and the original Cinderella Man, James J. Braddock. Holyfield might point out that no one believed in them, and those men still won improbable titles. He ignores that for every Braddock there are ten cases like that of Joe Louis, or Muhammad Ali, or Sugar Ray Leonard (the last time).

In words that we can only pray do not become more than rhetoric, Evander Holyfield said, “Age is just a number, if you’re willing to pay the price that’s necessary.” Let’s hope that Holyfield keeps his checkbook at home.

Article posted on 24.08.2006

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