It’s been more than fifteen years since Evander Holyfield’s infamous ‘bite fight’ with fellow heavyweight Mike Tyson. Since then Holyfield’s boxing career hasn’t had many memorable moments. Monday night, the now almost 50-year-old Holyfield told Sports Illustrated he’s finally had enough.
The Alabama native was nicknamed the ‘Real Deal’ for his gutsy performances that made him a heavyweight champion. Bryan Armen Graham of SI.com calls Holyfield “the last great American heavyweight champion”:
Many veteran observers will say the decision is long overdue. A little more than a decade ago, Holyfield was one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet, having generated more than a half-billion in pay-per-view receipts. Yet he won just eight of his last 18 fights. The New York State Athletic Commission banned him from boxing due to “diminishing skills” in 2005, forcing Holyfield’s more recent bouts to such inglorious outposts as White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and Corpus Christi, Texas.
He’d spent the past few years campaigning for a shot at Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko, the brothers who collectively rule the heavyweight division, with the goal of retiring as champion. But each Klitschko brother — despite their mutual need for “name” opponents — rebuffed Holyfield’s persistent overtures out of respect. (“He is my idol,” Vitali said in August. “I can’t do it for any amount of money.”)
Holyfield’s dream of regaining the titles had been derided as quixotic. Yet when wasn’t Holyfield dogged by naysayers? Fact is, if Holyfield paid mind to his critics, his career would have never gotten off the ground — let alone reached the stratospheric heights he occupied throughout most of the 1990s.
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