'Call Em Out Fridays': Evander Holyfield - The End Of An Era?
19.12.08 - By Vivek Wallace: In this weeks 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment we take a look at one the sports most storied figures. With a pro career spanning an amazing 24 years, flanked by various straps and accolades, few have accomplished more in the sport. That being said, father-time waits for no man and right about now, many would agree that Holyfields operating on borrowed time. As we prepare to see what could be the final installment of his career, today, like all other 'Call Em Out Fridays', we'll dissect all angles involved. We'll take a look at the fan 'Supportive' perspective, the 'Critics' perspective, and to keep things fair and balanced we'll wrap up with a more 'Neutral' perspective. So, with no further ado, we shine the spotlight on the man known by most as 'The Real Deal'..
Article posted on 20.12.2008
Evander Holyfield - (Supportive Perspective): The story of Evander Holyfield is one that paints a picture of greatness and longevity in a sport that typically fails to deliver in both areas more often than not. Prior to turning pro back in 1984, Holyfield was a successful amateur, compiling a record of 160-14, 75KO's, and snatching two medals (Olympic Bronze and Pan American Games Silver) in the process. After his '84 debut, Holyfield would take the world of boxing by storm as he climbed up the ranks, soundly defeating all competition placed before him in the cruiserweight division. His rise to the top saw him defeat Mike Tyson amateur nemesis Henry Tillman, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Carlos De Leon, and Ricky Parkey, among others. Eager to accomplish bigger and better things, in 1988 Holyfield started his heavyweight campaign where he would eventually etch his name in the history books relative to the sport forever. His heavyweight tenure opened the door for some of the biggest fights in the history of the division. That list included one of the most graphic episodes in the history of the sport - evidenced by a piece of Evander's ear laying on the canvas as fight phenom Mike Tyson, (angered by what he called "numerous uncontested headbutts and foul play") attempted revenge by biting Holyfield. Despite the gruesome occasions, Holyfield would earn two victories over Tyson, one by disqualification, the other by 11th round TKO. Holyfield would also defeat George Foreman, Buster Douglas, John Ruiz, and even take ownership as the only man ever to defeat Riddick Bowe in his professional career. As if that wasn't enough, Ray Mercer, Bobby Czyz, Michael Moorer, Larry Holmes, and Hasim Rahman would also fall on the losing end of the stick to Evander as his impressive heavyweight resume tallied up. No other heavyweight in this era of the sport has a resume that comes close to the A-list of fighters that this former cruiserweight took on without hesitation. When asked about his resume, Holyfield has always stated that he "never attempted to beat them with his big muscles, instead [he] used his mind". No one can doubt that Holyfield will go down as one of the sharpest heavyweight minds of all-time, but in recent years, that very weapon that made him dangerous has come under fire, leading some to believe that one too many wars in the ring is causing him to rapidly lose it. This is where the 'Critics' perspective comes into play.....
Evander Holyfield - (Critics Perspective): Despite all the great accomplishments in the career of Holyfield, the only obvious knock on him has been the question relative to whether or not he has decided to stick around too long in a sport that many feel has passed him by. To last 10 years in a sport like boxing is a major accomplishment, but to last 24 plus years actually yields mixed signals. To those who support him, it's an acknowledgment of his durability, but to those who are more critical and realistic, it appears more like a desperate plea to satisfy a long list of debts stemming between everything from lavish mansions to past due child support. No matter how you dice it up, when you spit it out, it's easy to fall in sync with the critics view of Holyfield when you consider that this is a 46 year old man trying to make waves in a young mans game. This was evidenced years ago when he suffered three consecutive losses - one of which was a 9th round TKO to James Toney - and was subsequently stripped of his license by the NY State Athletic Commission for what was labled as "diminished skills", despite passing the required medical test to box in the state. He would later find success in his 2006 return to the ring and stated that his prior ring failures were due to his inability to heal from several injuries, to include one of his shoulders. Initially, some may have accepted that reason for declined performances, but his recent loss to Sultan Ibragimov to most critics left more than enough room to question his ability to carry on. In that fight, the former heavyweight champ looked far from sharp and very much ready to be taken. More and more critics of Holyfield have recently began to ponder the question which boldly ask "how is it that he has gone from suspended due to declining ability, to deserving two back to back title shots without defeating a true contender in the process"? As a Holyfield fan myself, I'd be the first to admit, if you wanna talk about a 'real deal', how can any of us deny the legitimacy of such a question?
Evander Holyfield - (Neutral Perspective): When it all boils down, I think there's truth to both the supportive and critics perspective but the one that carries more weight is probably closer to the critics perspective. No one can ever question the heart or ring character of Holyfield because after losing to many heavyweight greats, he always got back on his horse and took the high road, whether it was in a non-vindicated defeat, or a second attempt victory. He always came to fight and he never really failed from lack of effort. That being said, from a person to person standpoint and just being a huge fans of the sport and of the man himself, how can any of us deny that his best days are well behind him? If it were not for this very weakened state of the heavyweight division, would he even be mentioned for a title match, let alone back-to-back title fights? We see the residual effects of one too many ring nights in the great Muhammad Ali and as much as it bothers many of us, we around the sport still seem to be content playing the role of that sideline official who fails to blow the whistle! I think it's a great story, and a rather valiant effort for a 46 year old to make one last push for supremacy, but the odds have never been higher, and the damage that could be sustained parallel those odds. The only silver-lining I see here is that I think the proper choice was made, speaking in terms of the champion Holyfield and his team targeted for this last chance to dance. This is a talented, but much slower, more telegraphed opponent who may have issues with a gritty old man with a high ring IQ and great determination. But make no mistake about it, there are no more 'wildcards' to pull from a deck full of jokers, even if this deck does lack a true diamond in the rough. So if Holyfield fails to get the job done this weekend, I'll personally write the petition to stop him from ever boxing again. Congrats on a job well done Evander, but please, know when to say when! It's now or never Evander....and that's the real deal!
(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at 954-292-7346 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
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