Who among today's contenders IS deserving of a title fight?
Who among today's contenders IS deserving of a title fight?
How's about Byrd, Toney, and Donald for starters. They were ranked contenders who beat Holy easily, and they were also the last ranked contenders Holy has faced in 5 yrs.Originally Posted by wolgast
One has to wonder about your comments concerning the WBC regarding the Pea/Chavez fight?Yet you endorse this sham of a shot Holy getting a title shot? No objective person could agree with you, but then there are Holy and Tyson fans that still think each could win a title, so there's your peer group, the diehard fanatics.Originally Posted by wolgast
Is this defense a mandatory?
I guess michael moorer, foreman, and larry holmes were busy.
1) Toney is on suspension for one year;
2) Donald is 0-2-1 in his last 3 fights in the last THREE years since he beat Holyfield;
3) Does anyone really want to see Byrd besides you?
By today standards you would think Donald would qualify for a title shot.Originally Posted by wolgast
not a mandatory since sultan was the WBO number one contender when he took the title from Briggs
1. True dat. Holy just came off of suspension or was it he was too shot to be licensed? Always get that mixed up!Originally Posted by wolgast
2. True dat. But he's been fighting champs/contenders. Holy is 0-3-0 the last contenders he's fought, but he's undefeated against pretenders!
3. Rhetoric? Praytell us who was asking Holy to come back for a title shot other than you and him? Did you even see the Oquendo fight? Think he threw 2 punches, maybe 3 against another fighter coming in off a layoff who hasn't beat a ranked fighter in 6 yrs. Byrd already beat both of them.
Bald noggined Holy don't even make a good scalp any more!
Rhetoric? Doubtful. Just the facts, ma'am!
This is bound to happen when two champions are facing each other, and nobody knows the name of either fighter. Holyfield gets to be Captain America, and go do it. And he can wear Apollo Creed's trunks and James Brown's funeral is probably traveling through Moscow around that time anyway... could be a good show, actually.
I was down on Holyfield, but if I could scrabble together enough friends to each go in $5, I'd do it. Would give me a reason to drink a lot, act like a jackass and argue with my friends. (Whoever they like, I'll go with the other guy, combatively.)
By Michael Swann
When the announcement was made that WBA heavyweight titlist Ruslan Chagaev had to withdraw from his October 13 unification bout in Moscow with WBO belt holder Sultan Ibragimov, more than a few cynical eyebrows were raised. And the fact that the reason was announced as “undisclosed medical reasons” and Evander Holyfield was inserted at the blink of an eye aroused the suspicions of boxing people, as well as the bloggers and discussion groups.
“Seminole Warriors Boxing, Golden Boy Promotions, Main Events, and Golden Grain Promotions, in association with Sampson Lewkowitz and Yuri Fedorov’s Sports Lab” announced the withdrawal of Chagaev and the entrance of the new challenger, Holyfield, who is seeking a heavyweight belt for the fifth time. The doubters wondered how so many promotional companies agreed to something so quickly, when it’s difficult to find two who will agree on anything.
It didn’t help when Reuters reported that Chagaev pulled out because of an UPSET STOMACH! Fight News reported that the cancellation papers read that he was suffering from “acute gastrological inflammation.” Well that story didn’t pass muster and everyone with a conspiracy theory had their doubts of Ruslan’s withdrawal. No one, but no one, suffers from a 10 week stomach ache.
Some felt that Chagaev had surely accepted step aside money and would simply fight the winner for an even bigger purse. Certainly the Golden Grain folks, backed by Suleiman Kerimov, #35 on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires with a net worth of $14.4 billion, could have made that happen. Many were of the opinion that the Ibragimov people actually wanted Holyfield all along, but by agreeing to a unification fight his image and marketability would be greater than if he had hand picked Holyfield, perceived by many as over the hill and under deserving.
Holyfield will be days short of his 45th birthday on fight night.
Then earlier this week a Uzbekistani news site reported that, “Doctors of Chagaev made a statement that Ruslan is ill with hepatitis B and he cannot train at least for three months.”
The article went on to say that Chagaev, “gives his apologies to his fans and promises to go into the ring with Sultan Ibragimov after he gets well.”
Chagaev, a Uzbekistan citizen now residing in Hamburg, Germany, was further quoted as saying, “I am very much upset that I can not accept the challenge. I could make history going to this fight, as to this day two world champions had never held a duel together as their first defense of their titles. It is really necessary to go to such an important duel being completely ready, and, unfortunately, it is impossible for me at the moment.”
Hepatitis B is considerably more than an upset stomach. It can be transmitted through contaminated needles and syringes, blood transfusions, and unprotected sexual contact. It would be safe to surmise that Chagaev would have preferred to keep his medical status as “undisclosed,” but was pressed into full disclosure when the original explanation failed the smell test.
So, obviously there was no step aside money involved and no back door machinations on the part of the Ibragimov camp. We had learned, even before Sultan won the title from Shannon Briggs, that a Holyfield fight in Moscow was Sultan’s first choice for a defense because Evander is still an international draw. The fight would be even bigger in Moscow where fans have never seen him but have heard of his legendary battles with names such as Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Riddick Bowe, and so many others in his Hall of Fame career.
That’s why the deal was put together so quickly. Leon Margules, the Executive Director of Seminole Warriors Boxing, explained it, saying, “The Holyfield deal took less than a day because we were negotiating before we made the Chagaev deal. Holyfield wants to fight for a title so it was not a hard thing to do. Main Events [Holyfield’s promoter] and I are good friends so it was smooth.”
The Sultan Ibragimov-Evander Holyfield fight will take place on October 13, the original date of the aborted Chagaev fight, at the Khodynka Arena in Moscow, Russia. Last week we were informed that details of the broadcast plans would be forthcoming, and that it would not be pay per view.
After spending a few days in doubt, I’m now on board with this fight. Ibragimov could have chosen Holyfield in Moscow from the very beginning for his first defense and he probably would have received little, if any, criticism for it. He would have made more money, and at considerably less risk. But the Ibragimov people chose to unify with Chagaev, to their credit as it would have been the first unification fight of this century.
Holyfield is ranked #9 by the WBC, #13 by the WBA, #12 by the IBF, and #13 by the WBO, the sanctioning body for this fight. Should he have been the first choice as a completive matter? No. Is it a brilliant business move by the promoters? Absolutely.
The New York State Athletic Commission, which cited Holyfield’s “diminished skills and poor performance” after a dismal showing against Larry Donald in 2004, placed him on indefinite medical suspension, which prohibited him from fighting in other states. After Holyfield passed a battery of tests which showed no health problems that would keep him from fighting some nine months later, the state suspended his license but lifted the medical suspension and changed it to an administrative suspension, enabling him to fight in other states.
He was out of the ring for 21 months before returning last August to TKO Jeremy Bates in two. Three months later he floored former title challenger Fres Oquendo in the first round and went on to win a close 10 round decision. After Holyfield scored a third round TKO over Vinnie Maddalone this past March, the NYSAC lifted the ban and he is now free to fight in any state.
He won his fourth straight in less than 11 months, all in the State of Texas, in his last fight when he won a lopsided 10 round decision over fellow graybeard Lou Savarese, flooring his opponent three times.
Margules stated that, “We do not have any future plans, only this fight.” Then he added, “We want to unify if possible.”
As reported here last week, that is not a good omen for Tony Thompson, the #1 WBO contender and mandatory challenger. Thompson naturally would have liked to have had his shot instead of Holyfield, but the timing of the negotiations and the fact that Holyfield is a lower risk fight with a higher upside in box office worked against him.
“Of course I’m disappointed,” Thompson said. “I know I’m not going to get a shot right away and they’re going to do everything they can to hold it up. It’s okay; they can’t keep running from me forever.”
We’ll find out in October, but as we pointed out last week, Tony Thompson might be well advised to seek out additional options.
Michael Swann can be reached at email@example.com.
Well it's not HIV but I was right about contracting something from those Moscow disco bunnies.
Shame, it will probably be close to a year before Ruslan can fight again.
Hepatitis B! That was the first of my many bad-blood related opponents. Let's hope Ruslan comes back swinging soon.
Ibragimov paints Holyfield up. Sultan will pot shot him all night.
Sultan is too quick with his hands and feet. It's a bad style match for Holyfield who needs a more stationary opponent to look good.
I think he loses an embarassingly wide decision while fighting in slow motion.
Holyfield is toast. But he is as deserving of a title shot as the rest of them are. Unlike the rest he would fight anyone you put in front of him. I rather see him get pasted then watch some slow hyped up fighter nobody has ever heard of. In fact if he got it together it wouldn't surprise me if he whacked out all these bums.
Larry Donald, Chris Byrd & James Toney is why he will never get it together & whack out all these bums. Sam Peter, Chagaev or either Klitschko would mercilessly pummel him beyond recognition. Holy is long past his days to upset anyone who belongs at the top of the divison. Ibragimov is the shakiest one IMO & I suspect Ibragimov will be as serious as a heart attack when he fights Holy and beat him as well.
Holyfield will be beaten badly soon .... this whole comeback is sad ...
The points are well taken. But none of these guys has done a thing to earn a title shot either. The truth is the division is so bad none of these guys deserve to be ranked near the top. Why everyones so high on Toney as a heavyweight is beyond me.
Thank you for pointing that out.Originally Posted by rocky111
Worse things have happened in the heavyweight division. I'm the biggest Holyfield nuthugger ever, so naturally...I couldn't be more excited.
I'll be tuning into watch him beat up Matt Hardy on WWE's Saturday Night Main Event tonight! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!
Main Events Goes Viral for Holyfield-Ibragimov
By Steve Kim from Max Boxing
This weekend’s WBO heavyweight title bout between Sultan Ibragimov and Evander Holyfield is a pay-per-view show that is not being distributed by HBO or Showtime. Basically, the promoters of this bout - which takes place in Moscow, Russia - are on their own to spread the word.
So they have decided to go to the newest major network to promote their event -youtube.com.
Instead of just buying the usual banner ads on the various boxing websites, they have gone a step further by producing their own commercials and vignettes and put them on youtube for the world to see.
"The feeling is that we were doing these fights on pay-per-view, and unfortunately, you can't always do them with the support of HBO and Showtime, and this worked out the way it did," explained Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events. "So we're on our own and it kinda gave us an opportunity to do things our way for a change because normally we have to put all our ideas through television networks and other promoters and things. Fortunately, Leon Margules at Warriors Boxing was very open to our ideas and basically gave us his blessing to go forward with them the way they were proposed."
They may not be going 24/7 with Holyfield and Ibragimov, but they did think outside the box, using 21st century technology.
"I got to kinda have some fun this time out because we decided that the thing to do here, in addition to creating our own documentary - which we produced and that I think is going to knock people's socks off when it is shown on ESPN Classic on Monday night and Friday night - we did a viral marketing campaign," explained Duva.
"We started with a regular commercial, which is going to be shown on all the cable systems and satellite systems as you typically would see on cross-channel promotions. That's going to be a little different from your average boxing spot. We wanted to make it look different to get people's attention and I think we did," she continued. "Then we moved onto the viral web pieces that we produced, three of them, in which we did a homage to Rocky IV. We take off on that movie, some of iconic themes that were in that movie and the fighters played along and had some fun with us. We had actors playing parts that will look recognizable to people. We had a lot of fun with it and we put it out on the web because we felt that this was the way to get basically free marketing that could be extremely effective."
Duva has always been on the cutting edge of detecting trends and utilizing them. In other words, she isn't promoting boxing as if it's still 1987.
"We all know the internet has been changing the paradigm since it came into being and anyone who doesn't believe that is going to ignore it at their own peril," Duva warns. "We are all trying to figure out how the internet has changed things and how we can use the 'net to market our product. Everybody talks about why the young people don't watch boxing, why the young people watch UFC - with all respect to the UFC, it's not because it’s a better product. It's marketed better. It was marketed for the younger generation. It took into account their viewing habits and what they love.
"When I was a child, you walked in the door, you turned on the television. Nowadays, kids walk home from school, they turn on their computer. And before they get home from school, because they got a PDA, they're looking at stuff on the way home."
The UFC website is filled with highlights and complete fights for download. But the key difference is that they are basically a solo operation that doesn't have to take into account rival promoters and their broadcast rights. But there are too many in the sport that look upon the world wide web as some fad, or in some cases, the enemy, for whatever reason.
"It has frustrated me," admits Duva, of those who have been slow to change with the times. "But we are talking about the traditional old media that we're dealing with and it's understandable why they're slow to evolve. But I think we have to use every opportunity that we can take to do what we can as promoters and I think the thing that really hit home for me was when Kermit Cintron knocked out Walter Matthysse in July and within a few days - until HBO took it down, I'm told - there were a quarter-of-a-million hits on youtube of his knockout. I thought that was spectacular."
Problem was, it wasn't licensed to be on there.
"I don't have the right to put that on youtube; someone else posted it," Duva explained. "I have to respect the fact that the rights holder paid a lot of money and it's really a decision that a rights holder, HBO, has to make. And we also do have the issues of foreign rights holders, who paid a lot of money, and the thing we can't forget is we can't put boxing on unless somebody pays for it. People don't like it when they have to buy pay-per-view, where we do have the rights to make decisions like that. But whether it's pay cable or a broadcast network, somebody’s paying, and when they buy, they get to make those decisions, at least for the short-term after the fight takes place."
Various networks and promoters now scan video hosting sites to make sure their fights and broadcasts aren't being posted illegally. Usually, after one year, promoters like Main Events get the rights to their bouts. So let's say in one year, when they get the rights to Cintron's last outing, and it was posted by a third party, would they object?
"No," answered Duva, "we want people looking at it. And actually we've gone out of our way, frankly, to put things on youtube, where we own the rights, in the last few weeks, and that's in connection with the promotions of the Vargas-Mayorga fights and that's another place where we saw an amazing response after that press conference.
"Not only do you not want to ignore it, you want to embrace it."
But within reason, of course.
"I have seen the power of this medium. Having said that, you'd like to have some degree of control. The day after Holyfield fights, there are many rights holders all around the world, and they're not going to get to show it live because of the time it takes place. I can not leave that stuff up there. We’ve got to do something to take it down. But within an appropriate period of time, I would love putting that stuff out there to help promote his next fight. Because I fully believe he'll have a next fight, we'll see," Duva states with confidence.
Broadcast networks such as ABC have their own websites, where they put up their programs for complete viewing. Duva points out that HBO and Showtime do not have that luxury, being that they have paid subscribers. But more promoters, such as Main Events and Top Rank, are becoming much more liberal in licensing clips and highlights to the internet to promote their events, as are networks like Showtime.
More than ever, in the age of glorified booking agents who just give up their foreign rights to networks, it's vital for the real promoters to protect their licenses, so they can execute such ventures as Main Events' viral marketing campaign.
"We've always been protective of that," Duva says. "We've always attempted to be. We do get it after a period of time has expired. We'd rather have it right away off the bat, but again, you're as good as your strength in a given negotiation. In some cases, we have kept it, in others where we didn't have so much strength, we weren't able to."
So will this influence others in the business to follow suit?
"I don't know, you'll have to ask them," Duva answers. "I've gotten some very, very positive feedback from the people at HBO about the things we produced. We're very proud of that. We've sent them the links and asked them to look at it."
The suggested retail price for Holyfield-Ibragimov is $34.95 and it takes place at 10 am ET, with replays of the show at night.
Holyfield Will Win. Just Ask Ronnie Shields
By Brett Conway from Max Boxing
This weekend will be either an ending or a new beginning for Evander Holyfield. He goes to Moscow, Russia to face Sultan Ibragimov in the Khodynka Ice Palace for the WBO version of the heavyweight title. Holyfield, well into his forties, may not deserve this title shot given the fighters he’s fought in recent months and the other boxers he has leap-frogged in the WBO rankings – including number one contender Tony Thompson. Since coming back from almost two years off, Holyfield has defeated Jeremy Bates, Fres Oquendo, Vinny Maddalone, and Lou Savarese -- not the murderer’s row of heavyweight contenders but in today’s heavyweight scene maybe it’s enough to get a title shot. And maybe it’s enough to suggest he can win on Saturday. At least Holyfield’s trainer, Ronnie Shields, thinks so.
“I believe Holyfield will win,” Shields told MaxBoxing.
Holyfield turns 45 in less than two weeks, is eight years removed from being considered the best heavyweight in the world, and won his first world title over twenty years ago. Holyfield it has been pointed out, again and again, may have the spirit to continue fighting and to continue trying in the ring. But will his body be able to respond? Shields says that Holyfield has recovered physically and now can do whatever he needs to do to win.
“He took two years off and repaired himself. His shoulder bothered him – no doubt about it. Now, he can fight as long as he wants and he can quit when he gets the undisputed title.”
Here Shields alludes to that left shoulder that Holyfield insists was hurt for years and that forced him to fight virtually as a one armed fighter. But does defeating no hopers Vinny Maddalone and Jeremy Bates, a comebacking and scared Fres Oquendo, and an over-the-hill Lou Savarese mean he’s physically able to win a title? Do these wins place Holyfield in the heavyweight elite and speak well of his chances to win on Saturday?
“People say that those guys were made to order for Holyfield, but he had to get in there and fight them. And then he fought Fres Oquendo who no one wants to fight because he’s the hardest guy in the world to fight and what happens? Holyfield puts him on his ass.”
That’s true. Not long ago, with Felix Trinidad Sr. in his corner during the prime of Felix Trinidad, Oquendo seemed poised to win a heavyweight title but came up short in shots against Chris Byrd in 2003 and John Ruiz in 2004. Holyfield’s win against Oquendo is perhaps the only one that says he has a chance on Saturday. It’s just too bad that Oquendo looked so bad in that fight, getting knocked down in the first and then running instead of fighting for much of the rest.
But 2007 is three years removed from Oquendo’s title shot and in boxing that can be a lifetime. Conventional wisdom says if Holyfield fights a guy with a jab he will be picked apart all night long as he was in his fight with Larry Donald, a fight that compelled the New York State Athletic Commission to suspend Holyfield. And Ibragimov does have those boxing skills that allowed him to win almost every round against Shannon Briggs for his WBO title. He’s a southpaw. He’s not the class of the heavyweights and he’s not a big guy like Wladimir Klitschko, but he has the kind of sturdiness, youth, and skills to test Holyfield and show us whether this comeback is the real deal for “the Real Deal.”
This is not lost on Ronnie Shields and he has a lot to say to those who doubt Holyfield’s qualifications for a title bout.
“They say that he has no chance in Russia. They say this guy has boxing skills and that he has a jab as if this is Holyfield’s first fight. As if he has never boxed before. They got to realize Holyfield has a jab. And not only that Lennox Lewis had a jab, Michael Dokes had a jab. And look how well he did against those guys. This is not Holyfield’s first pro-fight. He’s tough. He’s experienced. He’s a good boxer. He’s the guy who put guys on their asses. Some guys have been losing to guys that Holyfield put on their asses. You got to realize this.”
With Holyfield’s repaired shoulder and that win over Oquendo, there is some reason to suspect Holyfield does have a chance on Saturday. But one night of fighting is only one night. What about Holyfield’s much ballyhooed goal of unifying the heavyweight titles?
“He can fight as long as he wants as long as he keeps preparing,” Shields says. “Of course, he doesn’t want to fight for another four or five years. He’ll be the WBO champ next Saturday. He then wants the WBC, WBA, and IBF championships. That’s all he wants.”
Whether he will get that far remains to be seen. A conservative estimate says it will take at least another year to get into a position to make those kinds of high profile fights. But for now, everything begins with his traveling to Russia, a move that comes right out of “Rocky IV.” And given the track record of other fights that have happened in Europe including the most recent Valuev bout (a fight against Canadian Jean-Francois Bergeron that was much closer than the judges let on) some might be concerned that Holyfield will put on a great performance and get robbed.
“Going to Russia doesn’t bother him at all. That’s why they call it a world title. So many people are more worried about the judges and referee than the fight itself. Both sides, the champion and the challenger, have to agree to the judges and the referee. And the guy’s the champion: either we go to Russia to fight for the title or we don’t fight for the title.”
During the twentieth century, the heavyweight prize belonged to the United States. And even when a European like Max Schmeling or Ingemar Johansson won the title, he continued to fight in America. That’s where the big money was. And that’s where all the attention was. Now, we see more and more heavyweight title matches in Europe: Oleg Maskaev and Wladimir Klitschko and Nicolai Valuev have all defended titles there. And if the mantra “where the heavyweights go so goes boxing” is true, maybe it suggests boxing is slowly moving from America to Europe.
But Shields has a different take.
“Here’s the thing. There is no Eastern European domination of the heavyweight title. The guy we’re fighting and the other guys – all of them – are based in America. It’s not outside of America. They are just dual citizens. That’s all. All of them are living in the USA. Everything is still in America.”
On Saturday, Holyfield will not be America fighting Europe or Russia or Moscow. He will be Evander Holyfield, former heavyweight champion and pound-for-pound contender, taking on Ibragimov in what is likely his last chance to get a piece of the heavyweight title. As Muhammad Ali used to say, “the stage has been set.”
And Shields thinks along the same line.
“Here’s the thing. The title fight is set. I’m his trainer. I believe he will win. He’s my fighter and I believe he will win.”
Can Evander Deal With A Lefty?
By Michael Woods from Sweet Science
Admission time. Don’t make me come over there and hook up the polygraph on you, just be straight with me.
Much as maybe you don’t want to, you will in fact be shelling out a discretionary chunk of income on Saturday evening to see if the Old Man can do it.
Surely, you have something better to do, and maybe your long-suffering spouse or S.O. does as well. Surely, you could sock that $35 away, or put it into the kids’ college fund.
But you won’t.
And neither will I.
Because I’m curious to see of the Old Man can pull off a feat that we all deemed impossible three years ago, when Evander Holyfield looked the definition of the shot fighter against Larry Donald at Madison Square Garden.
The about-to-be 45 year old Holyfield (42-8-2, 27 KOs), who I deem only about halfway delusional now, as opposed to full on, Steinbrenner-level demented, says he can become undisputed heavyweight champion.
Easy old man, let’s see if you can handle Sultan Ibragimov (21-0, 17 KOs) before we start talking Wladimir, OK?
Apologies to 40-somethings everywhere, but I’m guessing that Real Deal will not be able to complete the first leg of his impossible journey to unification.
Ibragimov is no threat to do that either mind you; any man with a draw to Ray Austin on his resume, with all due respect, has announced loud and clear what he is, and isn’t, in the heavyweight ranks. But he is a lefthander, and Holyfield hasn’t seen many of those.
Michael Moorer fought from the flipped stance, and ‘Vander went 1-1 with him.
The first time they danced was April 22, 1994, and Moorer’s righthand jab gave Evander fits. Holyfield was holding the IBF and WBA titles at the time, and though Moorer had him in trouble repeatedly, he lost only a majority decision.
Rewind to postbout on that evening. "I was in the fight but maybe when I watch the tape I'll feel differently," Holyfield said. "His being lefthanded was a big problem. I trained for it but it was a problem."
And so it will be this Saturday, I’m afraid. Because I’d like to see the Old Man do it, because we are all getting old, and can periodically use little catalysts to convince us to push on, even if aching muscles or well-meaning loved ones tell us not to.
SPEEDBAG If ya’ll recall, Holy was sliced up by Moorer in that ’94 bout, but because he wanted to save some dough, he didn’t have Ace Marotta in the corner that night. Don “Jinx” Turner, who dismissed the need for a cut man specialist, didn’t stop the bleeding and that contributed heavily to the loss. Presumably, Holyfield won’t be pennywise on Saturday.
--Pernell Whitaker was on hand in ’94, and screamed at Holyfield to do the right thing, and move to his right. The shifty lefty knew what he was talking about on how to fight a lefty.
--That ’94 bout was Teddy Atlas’ most shining moment as a trainer. He went all Vince Lombardi, win one for the Gipper on Moorer, and the moody lefty responded.
--It must be said that Holyfield solved the lefty puzzle when he met Moorer again, in November 1997. He dropped Moorer, who wasn’t in a solid place mentally at that time, five times, and that bout was stopped in the eighth round. Moorer took off three years following that bout, so I tend to place more importance on their first faceoff, when mulling the lefty factor. Also, Evander was feeling particularly like God was his cornerman in that time frame; he’d just come off back to back wins over Mike Tyson.
--‘Vander turns 45 on Oct. 19.
Robert Morales can be reached at [email]firstname.lastname@example.org[/
Almost 13 years ago - in November 1994 - George Foreman stunned the sports world when, behind big on the scorecards, he knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round to win the world heavyweight championship. Foreman was 45 years and nearly 10 months old.
On Saturday in Russia, Evander Holyfield will be six days shy of his 45th birthday. And he will challenge Sultan Ibragimov for his world heavyweight title.
If Holyfield wins, it won't be quite the feat that Foreman's was.
After all, Foreman retired in 1977. He came back 10 years later in 1987 and fought 29 times over the next seven years before getting a chance to regain the precious championship he lost to Muhammad Ali in "The Rumble in the Jungle" in October 1974.
Certainly, Foreman must have thought that he would get another title shot much sooner. That he showed tremendous patience and did not give up the ship, is remarkable in its own right.
Holyfield's story is quite incredible, however. A loss to Larry Donald in November 2004 sent Holyfield into retirement. He was 42 at the time and had just lost consecutive fights to Chris Byrd, James Toney and Donald. Holyfield also had a nagging shoulder injury that he said hampered him when he threw his left hook.
His shoulder surgically repaired, Holyfield came back 21 months after retiring and has reeled off victories over Jeremy Bates, Fres Oquendo, Vinny Maddalone and Lou Savarese.
"I am no longer hindered by the injuries I had," Holyfield said.
"I am healed from the shoulder injuries that I had. I didn't realize at the time what (impact) the shoulder has on the all-around boxing mechanics.
"It took me a long time to realize that you can fight through pain, but it can affect everything else."
Holyfield, of Atlanta, said he really noticed that against Byrd, Toney and Donald. But he said that today, he is a new man. A new middle-aged man, if you will.
"I have fast hands and good movement and can punch just as good as the young people," he said.
That was apparent to him during his first day of training in preparation for Bates when, sparring when Adam Richards, he cracked Richards with a solid hook.
"I hadn't been able to hook off a jab to save my soul," he said.
Holyfield is nowhere near the fighter he once was. The fighter who engaged Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe in a vicious trilogy.
The fighter who knocked out Mike Tyson in the 11th round in their first fight, only to have Tyson chew off a piece of his ear in a rematch.
But any time a fighter like Holyfield - who is headed to the Hall of Fame - stays at it and refuses to quit, he must be commended. When Holyfield first announced he was coming back, we who write about boxing scoffed. So did fans. Holyfield paid no attention.
"I really don't focus on what people say," he said. "I am willing to get up every morning and train hard to become the best fighter that I can be. That's what drives me. ... I hear what people say, some good and some bad, and that's it.
"If I listened to it, my emotions would be going up and down. I understand that they have a right. And I have a right to work hard. And I have a right to do the things I need to do to stay focused."
This is true. If Holyfield took everything to heart he heard on the streets or read in the paper, it would be even more difficult for a fighter his age to attain his lofty goal of again becoming heavyweight champion. As it stands, Holyfield is the only four-time heavyweight champion. A win over Ibragimov would make him five-time champ, a record that would be difficult to equal, let alone break.
"Today I feel great and I am one day closer to fulfilling the goal that I set out to accomplish," Holyfield said. "The naysayers have always been a big part of my life. I have always strived to be the best that I could be one step at a time.
"It's not so much the naysayers, but it is whether I can take the necessary steps to do what I believe I can do."
Holyfield's ultimate goal is to unify the division by winning all four heavyweight belts. That would take at least another 18 months to accomplish, and at his age, that scenario doesn't seem to have a high percentage of occurring.
But first things first. That would be Ibragimov, a 6-foot-2 southpaw with a record of 27-0-1 with 17 knockouts. Ibragimov won the title with a unanimous decision over Shannon Briggs in June in Atlantic City. Ibragimov will be attempting to make his first defense.
"He's quick. What he brings to the game, he is probably going to throw more punches than any of the heavyweights that I've fought," said Holyfield, who once upon a time was also a solid cruiserweight champion. "He does awkward stuff that I've never seen a heavyweight fighter do."
Holyfield (42-8-2, 27 KOs) is not worried.
"I don't think there will be a problem," he said. "He is a determined fighter that will come to fight."
Talk about determined. That's Holyfield. Unflappable would be another way to describe Holyfield, who says he has no qualms about going to Ibragimov's homeland to try and wrest his title.
"I have to go to Russia if I want to be champion," he said. "I'm not the champion, and if you want something, you have to go out of your environment. I could stay home, where it is comfortable, but I won't make any money or become champion."
Holyfield didn't become one of the great fighters of this era by being comfortable, that's for sure.
The fight is available on pay-per-view. The live feed will begin at 10 a.m. from Russia.
De La Hoya speaks
Oscar De La Hoya lost twice to "Sugar" Shane Mosley - in 2000 and 2003. After the second fight, Mosley went on record and denied that he took steroids after he was linked to steroid-making BALCO and its founder, Victor Conte.
But late last month, SI.com ran a story that said indeed, Mosley had taken two designer steroids two months prior to the second fight.
The Press-Telegram on Saturday spoke with De La Hoya at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, only hours before he co-promoted Manny Pacquiao's defeat of Marco Antonio Barrera in the main event there.
De La Hoya was asked if, when the SI.com story broke, it suddenly made him think that the only reason Mosley beat him in the rematch was because he was jacked on steroids.
"Not at all, not at all," said De La Hoya, Mosley's promoter. "I believe in Shane Mosley. He's a good guy. Shane Mosley has the ability to beat anybody. And I came to a conclusion and I realized that you know what? He is a better fighter. I mean, he beat me and I've known him since I was a kid and I've always realized that he is a great fighter and he proved it against me."
Diaz vs. Diaz
Juan Diaz will put his two lightweight belts on the line, and Julio Diaz will put his one belt up for grabs Saturday in a unification fight in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Juan Diaz, of Houston, is just 24. He has a record of 32-0 with 16 knockouts. Julio Diaz, of Coachella, is 27. He is 34-3 with 25 knockouts.
One thing is certain, Julio Diaz is the harder puncher of the two.
But Juan Diaz is a hard-working fighter who is not easily deterred. This could be a great fight.
HBO will televise it, and the replay of last Saturday's Pacquiao-Barrera fight.
If Sultan stands in front of Holy and boxes at a measured pace, he will lose. Evander will beat him as he is a better boxer. If Sultan takes him to a pace that he cant match and picks him apart with fast hands its Sultans fight very easy. Its hard to pick a winner. It all depends on how they fight or should I say, how Sultan fights. Congrats to Evander for getting to this fight and going to Russia. He is a warrior to admire in that ring.
I don't see this as a competitive bout. Upper body movement/legs/accurate combo's/and just being a southpaw with busy hands and youth is a different ballgame than face first guys like Savarese or Maddalone. Evander will have to work a lot to land anything. And how many years has it been since he did anything with that right hand against top competition?
I don't see Evander coping too well with the role of road warrior either. Real late in the game to just start doing that & that crowd will be very vocal when Ibragamov does anything. To me, he'll need a big shot like we saw with Shannon Briggs in a bout he's losing.
Evander will lose. The whole thing is a joke.
It's really sad how far Holyfield's career has devolved. Here he is fighting for a slice of the heavyweight brass ring & nobody, including myself, really gives a damn.
Evander has "Ezzard Charles -'D" his career into a distortion. Like Charles he fought on incurring losses against fighters that wouldn't have been competetive with them in their primes.
By fighting on & losing so much Charles thoughroly (sp?) damaged his rep & cred. It took until the mid-90's for his rightful place in boxing history to be fully restored.
Evander has done the same thing. I've always believed that if he had retired like he said he would after the 2nd Moorer fight following his wins over Tyson, Holyfield would be considered a top 5-7 heavyweight all time.
Instead he has so tattered his rep by fighting on YEARS past his expiration date that it's blurring the image of what a terrific fighter he used to be. It's going to take at least 15-20 years after he retires (it took Charles about 30 years) for historians & fans to restore him to his rightful place in heavyweight history.
Great point Gor...dead on ...
Funny you should say that GorDoom, I was watching Holyfield vs Tyson 1 today just because I wanted to check the quality of my copy. I had forgotten what a shocking fight that was. If you remember at the time coming off the 3 Bowe fight we all thought he was done. I remember how high I was on him after that win. It really is a shame that he didn't retire. I think you are right he will probably make the HOF quickly but he will not be remembered as favorably now because of all these fights past his prime.