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Matt Christie says, go on if you must but leave us out of it



EVANDER HOLYFIELD is still scampering around trying to uproot the impossible dream that grows in his unconscious and plant it in reality. But the longer he pursues the riches of the past, the more painful the reality of the future will be. Even the present is giving Holyfield headaches, and cut eyes, and a depressing amount of embarrassment.


The older you get, the more you get to witness the ravages of time. Friends and family age in front of your eyes, just as you do to them. But the changes occur, slowly and delicately, over a lifetime. For someone like Holyfield, though, getting older is a far less graceful process.


People have been telling him to retire for years now, but ultimately that is for him – if he keeps passing the necessary medical examinations – to decide. We all have the right to choose how we lawfully spend our time, and Evander has chosen his. He has the right to ignore pleas for him to quit, even if those that offer such advice or opinion do so with a real affection for the legendary fighter.


The problem, though, is when Evander strives to get the public embroiled in his nonsensical masterplan. Americans were invited to pay out $29.95 on Saturday night to see Evander get beat up by journeyman Sherman Williams for three rounds. Luckily for the 48-year-old, his increasingly delicate cranium collided with his tormentor’s skull and opened a cut that allowed the veteran to bail out of combat with a No Contest.


If his post-fight interview was anything to go by, he will fight on. Fair enough, it’s his decision after all. But he has to stop telling the world he’s going to regain the ‘undisputed’ title. Firstly, his skills have eroded to such a point that keeping hold of his pathetic WBF belt is a struggle and chances of him beating any of the major belt-holders, much less all of them, are nonexistent. Secondly, in the fractured land of governing body control, boxing may never unite to birth an undisputed champion again. Which is depressing enough as it is.


I spoke with Evander on three separate occasions last year. Each time I found him fascinating, insightful and charming. And utterly deluded. There is little doubt that the criticism he receives encourages him to prove the world wrong. But after Saturday’s empty performance, even his hungry self-belief must be in danger of eating itself.


A man who once ruled so majestically should not be reduced to struggling with the likes of Sherman Williams. If you’re in any doubt that money is not the reason he fights on then such a dreadful performance should persuade you to the contrary. Holyfield is hoping, somehow, to earn another mega-money showdown. But it is only his name that carries clout these days, and even that is danger of tarnishing itself.


I thought he had a point when he told me last year that his legacy is safe because he’d already achieved so much and nothing can take that away. But his career is dwindling on for so long that it will be impossible not to mention when reviewing his career. It will have an impact on his legacy – maybe not as catastrophic as the health implications – but, rightly or wrongly, Evander’s place in history is not as prestigious today, as it was 10 years ago. Case in point being Joe Calzaghe: if he came back and lost his unbeaten record, would we be so quick to place him among the best ever? No, even by losing, years after his peak, he would damage his career; Joe has said as much himself.


And okay, Evander did give Nikolay Valuev all he could handle in 2008, but that was over two years ago and it was the closest he came to beating a rated contender since he defeated Hasim Rahman in 2002. The only other top-level guy he’s beaten in the last 11 years is John Ruiz – very controversially – in 2000.


The man is not stupid and admits his style has had to adapt to the ageing process but he’s, at the very least, 13 years removed from his prime. That’s a long time to be fighting full-stop, let alone boxing with diminishing skills.


So Evander, keep fighting, keep taking punches that are tattooing your record with ugly blotches and keep running the risk of a horrible future. But stop telling us all that you are on the brink of greatness again. Stop inviting us to this macabre party. We don’t want to be around if the worst happens because we remember how it used to be. And it wasn’t anything like this.


Thanks for reading.



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Holyfield, like so many boxers with chins of steel before him, will eventually get KO'd in a bad way. Who ever thought Wayne McCullough would quit? Or Morales? Or Benny Lynch? Just a few boxers who ended up getting KO'd or stopped in either their last bout or within sight of their retirement.


The same will happen to Holyfield i'm sure.

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