Five-time World boxing champion Evander Holyfield is in Vancouver to spread his anti-bullying message.
Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG
Lev Jackson: What has “Real Deal” Holyfield has been up to?
Evander Holyfield: Actually, you know, I’ve been looking around. I had to find something new, find new things to do other than boxing. I was hoping for another shot at the title. It could be, or it could not be, but I’m doing other things. I love to go out and inspire and support other people being a champion, as I was a champion.
LJ: Your first fight with Mike Tyson took six years to make. What was going through your mind when you were finally walking to the ring?
EH: Of course, it was a big fight. Out of all the fights I have fought, that one stands out as a lot bigger than so many because of the things that Tyson does. He’s the youngest heavyweight champion ever. He’s a guy who was too small. All the guys that he destroyed, big guys, you know, Tyson, he’s 5-foot-10. When he was boxing everybody up, he was only 200-210 [pounds]. He’s giving up the height, the reach, but he was a little quicker and very explosive. There is nowhere in the world you can think he’s no more than what he is: a great fighter.
LJ: Explain the early going.
EH: I knew I wasn’t going to be beaten by a reputation. I feel, if you’re better than me, you got to prove it. You ain’t going to be better than me just because you say you are. I realized that was a big part of Tyson’s game. He was very confident, and that throws a lot of people off. I was one of the people who happened to be an amateur with Tyson at the time he was tying to make the Olympic team. Tyson and I were both on the losing squad, so we trained together. We both didn’t win Olympic trials, we both had to train together. They had the losing squad and the first team. So, you know we have to share a lot of time with each other at that time. Thing is, I knew Tyson was a hard worker. If I had to say anyone worked harder than me when I was a kid, it was Tyson. I used to just look and see the things that he’d do and say, ‘oh my goodness,’ and obviously try to keep up. His pace is just a little faster than mine. So I really, really admired how he did in the time I see him train. So seeing that made me think whoever fought him was going to have a tough time.
LJ: You had him hurt late in the 10th round.
EH: By the time the fight gets to the 10th, after that ninth round’s over, you know, I could see I had won his respect. He knew how far to come up. He didn’t overcrowd me. He stood that distance. That’s when I was able to hit him with the different shots that hurt him in that 10th round. You know, with 10 seconds left, you could have stopped it in that round, but the bell rung and he was able to walk back to the corner.
LJ: How did it feel when the referee waved off the fight in the 11th?
EH: I’ve seen so many fights where people thought they had the fight, and the fight wasn’t over, and they get hit with one shot. It don’t take no one shot to put you out of the fight. What has always been asked is, when did you know you had him? I say, when they stopped the fight. That’s because I’ve seen the resilient power that people have when they’re winners. They can take that one shot and put it back in their favour. So when the fight was over, that’s when I knew it was over.
Tickets to Monday’s Evander Holyfield Anti-Bullying dinner at Fraserview Hall can still be purchased at 604-435-7777.
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