It was 1996 and Mike Tyson was fighting Evander Holyfield for the first time. I was told that Mike’s favorite punch was trying to hit the tip of his opponent’s nose bone through his brain and this left me fearing for Evander’s life. Vegas felt the same way as Evander opened as a 20-1 dog only to settle at 6-1. This wasn’t the ear fight and is considered one of the greatest heavyweight fights of all time when Evander stopped Iron Mike in the 11th. Evander not only stood up to the baddest man on the planet, but earned his respect and proved he was the better fighter.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight. Fighters know. Evander, he has an incredible competitive spirit. He’s not like me. He’s not going to point in your face and tell you you’re going to lose and it’s going to be a bad ass show. He’s not going to do that. But he is that way. He shows it in the ring. He’ll be all these things I am, talking I’m going to kill you, but it’s in the ring. He just waits. That’s just what he is.” – Mike Tyson
This post is obviously inspired by the 30 on 30 called Chasing Tyson and reviewed the years leading up the 2 super fights in ’96 & ’97. Evander is not just a role model but an athlete who should be studied for his achievements and overcoming many challengs. Evander wasn’t meant to be a heavyweight. He came up from the Cruiserweight class and got there through hard work and determination but was outweighed in most fights. This reduced his knockout power, made his bouts run longer, but no one could ever question Evander’s heart.
He was soft spoken and didn’t get himself into trouble out of the ring. People knew he was a great fighter but pretty much didn’t care even when he won the heavyweight championship by beating the same Buster Douglas who beat Mike Tyson in 1990. The world watched Tyson’s every move because they are drawn to the creation of energy and Evander didn’t do so anywhere but in the ring. He was going to fight Tyson in November of 1991 when Tyson went to jail for the hotel room incident with a beauty queen. This should have been the best fight of the decade when both fighters were in their prime (Holyfield 29, Tyson 25).
In the years following with Tyson in jail, Holyfield went 5-3 with 2 losses to Riddick Bowe and 1 to Michael Moorer. When Tyson got out in 1995, he fought 4 times that lasted a total of 8 rounds. This set up the highly anticipated Tyson-Holyfight bout. Tyson was 30 and Holyfield was already in his mid-30’s. Holyfield shouldn’t have won on paper but his heart was bigger than the typical fighter. After this fight Mike showed the greatest respect for Evander and truly realized he had been beaten by a superior boxer. Sure the 2nd fight didn’t go as planned as Mike bit both of Holyfield’s ears in the 3rd round and got disqualified in one of the most bizarre spots in boxing history.
Evander can’t be forgotten though and it seems like he slips through the cracks. He didn’t have the power as a heavyweight which never gave him that knockout pizzazz. He held the heavyweight title belt 4 times which has never been done before. His mild manner kept him out of the spotlight and he ended up having a 27 years fighting career fighting all the way up to age 49. He ran into some financial difficulties and now does some oddball commercials and stars on Big Brother and tells people that being gay can be fixed. I still enjoyed learning more about the man who conquered the evil that was Mike Tyson.