Evander Holyfield: A Title Shot is Still PossibleWritten by Leroy Cleveland
A title shot for boxing legend and former 4 time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield is still not out of the realm of possibility.
Two weeks ago on the eve of his 50th birthday, the fighter dubbed "Real Deal" unretired after having decided to call it quits the week prior.
Lineal heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and his brother, WBC belt-holder Vitali, insist they wont give Holyfield a title shot because they like him.
Its presumed the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali, believe they'd hurt the legend at this stage of his career. Ironically though, Holyfield would argably be favored against several of their recent opponents, namely Manuel Charr, Jean Marc Mormeck and Tony Thompson.
With Wladimir set to face Mariusz Wach later this month and the winner of Tyson Fury vs Denis Boytsov lined-up to face Vitali, who presumably isn't ready to leave boxing yet, things may get very interesting in the heavyweight division.
The legendary Evander Holfield celebrates No. 50 with family.
Photo courtesy of Travis Jourdain, FiveMinutePhotos.com
The Klitschkos will be facing two young lions next and one has to wonder if Holyfield is paying close attention.
At this moment, Evander Holyfield is like an NFL football team late in the season who needs help to make the playoffs. In this case, his nemeses are the Klitschkos and the defeat of one brother may give Evander that all-important wild card birth which, in this scenario, is a shot at a world title.
Surely, Evander must be one of Mariuz Wach's biggest fans at the moment. The big Pol will fight lineal heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko November 10. If Wach loses, Evander Holyfield will most certainly be paying close attention to Fury vs Boytsov. The winner of that bout will likely challenge Vitali and become Evander's new favorite fighter.
Why Does Evander Still Have Hope?
Boxing history is replete with instances where new, young champions have given much older former champs one last title shot early in the new champion's reign. Perhaps its done out of respect or appreciation? Or maybe the handlers of those new young champions thought fighting an older, past-his-prime fighter with a big name would be a 'low-risk high-reward' opportunity?' But most likely, its probably a little of both.
- At a youthful 30, a prime Larry Holmes defended his title easily against an 'ancient,' well over-the-hill 38 year old Muhammad Ali in 1980.
- A 21 year old Mike Tyson, a little over a year into his reign, faced a 38 year old Larry Holmes in 1988.
- Evander Holyfield, at 28, made his first heavyweight title defense against 42 year old George Foreman in 1991. And in 1992, a 29 year old Holyfield made his third defense of the heavyweight crown against a 43 year old Larry Holmes.
- Newly-crowned heavyweight champion Michael Moorer also selected George Foreman, then 45, as his first opponent in 1994. Surprise, surprise... Moorer would get KO'd by Big George.
- Wladimir Klitschko won the WBO Heavyweight title in 2000 and, at 26, defended his title against Frans Botha, an "old" 34 at the time, and 40 something Ray Mercer in 2002.
- A 29 year old Daye Haye captured the WBA Heavyweight Championship in 2009 and made his first two defenses against 38 year old John Ruiz and 39 year old Audley Harrison. The latter was never a world champion but he was an older guy with a relatively big name nonetheless.
And its not limited to heavyweights...
At the age of 22, jr middleweight champion Saul Alvarez defended against 40 year old Shane Mosley while a 24 year old Prince Naseem Hamed, as WBO Featherweight Champion, faced a 39 year Wilfredo Vasquez in 1998.
The list goes on...
A seemingly in-shape Evander Holyfield celebrates his birthday, October 19, 2012. Is that a cake?
Photo courtesy of Travis Jourdain, FiveMinutePhotos.com
It's not uncommon for young champions to face significantly older, somewhat faded former champions, especially early in title reign.
If either Wach, Fury or Boytsov is successful, would they be looking to add Evander Holyfield to their resume?
For starters, they'd likely view Holyfield as a safe opponent. And secondly, those fighters carry little clout outside boxing's hardcore fraternity - especially Boytsov and Wach. Very few people outside of England, Ireland and Poland even know who they are. Sadly, a win over a Klitschko won't bring them the fame Buster Douglas enjoyed when he knocked out Mike Tyson.
A heavyweight title fight involving the great Holyfield would get added media exposure not only because Holyfield is a sports hero, but he'd be looking to break the record for the oldest world champion in combat sports history. At the moment, that distinction belings to Bernard Hopkins who, at 47, won the lineal light heavyweight championship last year.
Evander Holyfield is more than a boxing legend - He's a "sports" legend.
On an international level, and especially in North America, the name "Evander Holyfield" still cares far more prestige among the masses than the names Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko put together.
No disrespect to either of the Klitschkos - They are quality fighters and champions. However, Evander has been around a lot longer and engaged in much, much bigger bouts. As a result, Evander's name will resonate more, especially among casual fans and those who have fallen away from the sport since the 1980s and 90s.
And the fact he's 50 would only add more intrigue to the bout a la Moorer vs Foreman.
Should one of the three young guns score an upset, don't be surprised if "Real Deal" gets one last title shot.
Main Image Source: Travis Jourdain, FiveMinutePhotos.com