30.01.04 – By Luke Dodemaide: Evander Holyfield was arguably the boxer of the 90’s, the former undisputed cruiserweight and four time heavyweight champion fought everybody; Evander delivered time and time again. Eighteen years ago, a twenty four year old Evander Holyfield strapped the WBA cruiserweight title around his young and emerging waist, after a 15 round split decision victory over Dwight Qawi. Two years later, Evander Holyfield was the undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world. At 26 years old, Holyfield had the world at his feet, everybody was eager to see which road Holyfield would head down next, but now that couldn’t be further from truth.
Last year was Evander Holyfield’s nineteenth year in the sport of boxing, and possibly his saddest. A far cry from when he was boxing’s biggest attraction during 90’s. Holyfield has the heart of a warrior, and that is what carried him through many memorable fights including the Bowe trilogy, his two dramatic fights with Mike Tyson, his wins over George Foreman and Michael Moorer. But it seems that warrior heart is becoming too big for the great mans own good.
It was a magnificent tough and tight boxing skills that emerged victorious when Holyfield claimed the undisputed heavyweight title of James ‘Buster’ Douglas.
In the fourteen years since that meeting, almost all of that speed, endurance, evasiveness and power has escaped him. Even with the heart of a warrior, no human can deny age. There is nowhere to hide from such a devastating natural force like the advancing of years. And Evander, like all other aged sportsman has been robbed of the skill the world loved and cherished. That skill that brought the world to their feet over and over again.
Boxing loves Evander Holyfield, he has made more money out of the sport than anyone in the history of sport. It would evoke deep emotions for people all over the world if Evander Holyfield was to step through the ropes again and receives a beating that is unavoidable with boxing’s best heavyweights. At 41 it’s hard to keep up with the best, even impossible. When talking on this there is one man that denies my theories on age, he is George Foreman.
Regaining the heavyweight world title is something that Evander dreams about, he dreams about emulating George Foreman and winning the sports most prestigious championship sometime in the future. But is this dream blinding Holyfield from the horrible truth? Evander is a great of the sport, a legend, but his time has come and gone. That is a hard pill to swallow; something every sportsman must learn to cope with as they continually strive once more for former glories.
Foreman stated that in winning back the heavyweight title twenty years after he first won it, he was “the miracle”. At 45, Foreman’s effort to win the Heavyweight championship back may just be that, a miracle, but in the twenty years between Foreman’s two championship reigns Foreman spent the first half of those years spreading the word of God, not participating in the worlds cruellest sport.
From the outside looking in Holyfields body looks far superior to that of Foreman at the same age, but you must look past the illusion of Holyfield’s great physic, his body is a casualty of war. While Foreman bathed in a decade long absence from the brutally tough and demanding sport, Evander went to hell and back with heavyweight champions, his body was soaking up blows from the hardest hitters on the face of the earth. Participating in wars like Holyfield made him an instant icon, but they also severely damaged his ageing body. Warriors pay a price eventually.
You can not escape from the reaches of ageing. And this is something Evander must accept. Every dog has his day. And Evander’s has well and truly passed.
With every fight that Holyfield fights from now, he will slowly unhinge a once highly respectable career. Not that Holyfield’s career is not respectable. It is by all means.
But Holyfield continuing to search for ludicrous goals is embarrassing. Everybody loves Evander, nobody wants to see him get hurt. Because with every punch that the great man takes, boxing purists feel it themselves, because with the blows Holyfield takes, the great chapter he has written into boxing is tarnishing before our eyes.
Why does such a smart, nice and highly respectable man continue to go on and battle an unbreakable barrier? Every man must learn to accept age, even embrace it.
Because age is what takes a successful and legendary boxer, such as Evander Holyfield, out of the ring and into retirement, his mansion and his millions.
Why must Evander continue to punish boxing, by punishing himself?
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