I’ve never been a huge fan of Evander Holyfield and I’m not really sure why. The guy could definitely fight as shown numerous times throughout his illustrious career. He could be entertaining at times and was involved in some great slugfests, such as his trilogy with Riddick Bowe and his pair of fights against Mike Tyson.
I appreciated Holyfield’s skills and heart, but only found myself cheering for him depending on who his opponents were. I was pulling for him all the way against Bowe, Tyson, and James Toney, but found myself in the opposite corner when he took on the likes of Lennox Lewis, Buster Douglas, and George Foreman.
Like everybody else, Holyfield (43-10-2, 1NC, 28KOs) had his bad days, especially against Lewis, but always showed the heart of a champion in the ring. However, that image was tarnished slightly on Jan. 22 when he took on the little-known Sherman ‘The Tank’ Williams (34-11-1NC, 19KOs) of the Bahamas at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Even though Williams stepped into the ring at the advanced age of 38 he was still 10 years younger than Holyfield.
Now I don’t really have a problem with guys fighting into their forties as long as they’re in decent shape and the bouts are competitive. The fight against Williams was shaping up to be a pretty entertaining contest until Holyfield quit in his corner after the third round due to a cut over his left eye. I don’t know what millions of other viewers saw, but I saw a boxer who was looking for an easy way out after it looked like Williams was going to give him more than Holyfield could handle.
Yes, there was a cut close to Holyfield’s eye, but it hardly seemed serious and viewers couldn’t see any blood flowing into his eye on the television coverage. But Holyfield said he couldn’t see out of the eye after a round in which Williams shook him up badly with some solid overhand rights. Williams said he cut Holyfield with one of those punches while Holyfield claimed it was a headbutt.
Television replays seemed to backup Holyfield’s claims, but as far as I know referee David Johnston didn’t make a ruling on the cause of the cut, which he should have done when it first appeared. To rule it was an accidental headbutt when a fighter’s considering quitting isn’t the right time to do it. Either way, it appeared to me Holyfield knew he could escape the fight after the third round without it going to the scorecards and simply didn’t want to fight Williams for another nine rounds.
Holyfield and his cornermen kept telling the doctor he couldn’t see, hoping he’d call and end to the fight, which he did. Holyfield was trailing 29-28 on all three cards at the time of the stoppage. I couldn’t believe this was the same boxer who had half an ear bit off by Tyson, quitting on his stool against somebody like Williams, no disrespect to Williams.
Holyfield won the WBF Heavyweight Championship after stopping 42-year-old Frans Botha back in April. That title basically means nothing in the boxing world though and he’s scheduled to fight 45-year-old Brian Nielsen (64-2, 43 KOs) of Denmark on March 5. But Nielsen hasn’t fought in nine years, so I don’t really see where Holyfield’s going with all this. If he’s attempting to win a legitimate heavyweight title for a fifth time he’s definitely going about it the wrong way.
Unless Holyfield beats a legitimate top-10 fighter I can’t see him getting a shot at the WBA, WBC, or IBF titles. And the way he quit against Williams that’s probably a God send to Holyfield and boxing fans all over the world.