Former WBA cruiserweight and WBA/WBC/IBF heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs), the Fighting Pride of Atlanta, Georgia, will be inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, this summer.
After going 160-14 (75 KOs) as an amateur, Holyfield won a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and turned professional later that year.
In only his 12th pro fight, “The Real Deal” defeated Dwight Muhammad Qawi to win the WBA World cruiserweight title. He added the IBF and WBC cruiserweight titles in 1987 and 1988, respectively.
Holyfield moved up in weight and stopped the first seven heavyweights he faced, setting up a title shot against WBA/WBC/IBF World heavyweight champion James “Buster” Douglas, who shocked the world when he knocked out Mike Tyson in Tokyo in 1990.
Evander KO’d Douglas in the third round.
After three successful defenses, Holyfield lost a 12-round war to Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe in 1992. He avenged that loss one year later by beating Bowe in the rematch.
Holyfield and Bowe fought a rubber match in 1995 and “Big Daddy” was victorious. It looked like Evander’s championship days were at an end.
But Holyfield wasn’t finished. It wasn’t even close.
In 1996 Holyfield stopped Mike Tyson to win the WBA World heavyweight title. They fought a rematch seven months later in a fight called the “Bite of the Century,” in which Tyson was disqualified in the third round.
Evander won the IBF title a second time by stopping Michael Moorer in 1997, before losing the titles to Lennox Lewis in a November 1999 rematch, after the two men fought to a draw eight months earlier.
That, surely, was the end of Holyfield’s championship run. But once again, nobody told Holyfield.
In his next fight, four months after the loss to Lewis, Evander decisioned John Ruiz to win the vacant WBA World heavyweight title. He lost to Ruiz in the rematch in August 2000, but Holyfield was by then a historic figure, a warrior’s warrior, one of the great overachievers in boxing history.
“I got beat by everybody in my family. They beat me in everything,” said Holyfield. “I learned how to win. It’s in my DNA. I changed that into an inspiration. I was able to whip other people because of this.”
Whip them he did in impressive fashion. His entry into the Hall of Fame is an honor he deserves.
“I’m excited,” Holyfield said. “It shows my work didn’t go unnoticed, things that I accomplished. It’s good to know that everybody else was watching. That’s a great thing.”
Greatness is earned, not bestowed, and Holyfield’s championship heart is the stuff of legend.
“I like winning,” he said. “Winning was enough for me. I was the undefeated, undisputed cruiserweight champion, and I was four-time heavyweight champion of the world. What more can you say? You did what you were supposed to do.”
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.