Legendary boxer Evander Holyfield, who is the four-time heavyweight champion in boxing history, is celebrating his 60th birthday today. It’s hard to believe “The Real Deal,” or, if you prefer Evander’s other arm of “The Warrior,” is 60 years old. Holyfield, as we know, actually fought (or tried to fight) not long ago. no, this is against Vitor Belfort. Now, gloves put away for good, Holyfield can bask in the glory of a true ring performance.
It’s funny, but looking at Holyfield’s numbers, his career may not appear to the casual fan to be that special; There are after all 10 wins over Holyfield’s pro record. But Holyfield is a fighter to show strong when you want to make the case that a good, shiny, undefeated record is the be all and end all in boxing. Holyfield literally fought them all, opponents he could turn around with ease. Undefeated, maybe even undefeated, at cruiserweight, Holyfield’s real goal is to become the heavyweight champion of the world.
After that controversial fight at the ’84 Olympics where he was disqualified in his fight with Kevin Barry, Holyfield’s bronze medal match, the 22-year-old moved on. Having an amazing resume and being moved at a fast pace, Holyfield was the WBA cruiserweight champion after only 12 fights. But the twelfth fight against Dwight Muhammad Qawi really took place. All these years later, and Holyfield still calls this 15th round the hardest, toughest fight of his career. Holyfield even considered leaving, this while he was in the hospital, dry, lost and tired.
But Holyfield fought back, of course – and soon joined the cruiserweight title; this is after 18 only. Holyfield then rose to dominate the heavyweight division; his eyes firmly on Mike Tyson. A Tyson fight would not come for several years, with Evander instead crushing Tyson’s champion Buster Douglas to take the heavyweight crown in October of 1990.
Holyfield has not had it easy as he prepares to defend his title. George Foreman, zealous Bert Cooper, Larry Holmes, and Riddick Bowe challenged the “Real Deal.” Bowe defeated Holyfield in a rematch. Holyfield surprised his fans with a revenge against Bowe (a fight that saw another “Fan Man” fall in), before suffering a heart attack in his fight with Michael Moorer. This was definitely the end of Evander.
But no, after he was “cured,” Holyfield returned, his head shaved. A solid win over Ray Mercer saw Holyfield earn a third fight with Bowe. This time, fighting for the WBO belt, Holyfield took Bowe down hard but was stopped in the eighth round; this is the first loss he had in his life. Surely this is the end? No again.
Holyfield made a comeback, defeating Bobby Czyz by five points. But Evander did not do well in the fight, and fans everywhere were afraid for his life when it was announced that he would fight Tyson – “Finally” – in November of 1996. If Holyfield surprised fans of the fight with his victory over Bowe, he was shocked. all over the world with the 11th round KO won Tyson. Holyfield finally won the fight he wanted, as he is now a three-time heavyweight champion.
This would be the right time for Evander to leave, however he left. The terrible “Bite Fight” with Tyson made the world sick, and then Holyfield fought with Lennox Lewis twice. The funeral at the end of the first fight was condemned, while Holyfield was more successful in the match but still not declared. This should be the end of Holyfield, right? Not right.
Amazingly, Holyfield would not only have 16 more fights after Lewis’ loss, he would reign again. Holyfield boxed, at times dull, at times spectacular with John Ruiz, with Evander winning the WBA heavyweight title in his first bout against “The Quiet Man.” But Holyfield was a shadow of his former self at this point, his stubbornness and pride forcing him to keep fighting. Losses to Chris Byrd, James Toney and Larry Donald followed, yet the 42-year-old Holyfield still refused to retire.
Amazingly, two more world fight opportunities came Holyfield’s way! A big decision loss to Sultan Ibragimov in a weaker fight did nothing for Holyfield’s legacy, however the following year, against Nikolay Valuev, Holyfield was very disappointed to not be recommended. and with it Valuev’s WBA heavyweight belt. If justice had been done in Switzerland, Holyfield would have become a heavyweight ruler FIVE times!
Good weather and water, Holyfield’s indoor and outdoor boxing show went over 12 rounds against Valuev’s wood match was his last big fight. After that there was a victory over Frans Botha, a member of the NC party with Sherman Williams, and finally, after almost 27 years in the ring, a victory over Brian Nielson.
Holyfield leaves with a 44-10-2(29) – 1 no contest record.
And with him a special place in the history of boxing. What a job Evander really did.