Holyfield isn't the Real Deal anymore and he should quit before he gets real hurt

By Matthew Aguilar

14/10/2007

Holyfield isn't the Real Deal anymore and he should quit before he gets real hurt

It was a solid effort, the performance that 44-year-old Evander Holyfield put forth Saturday in Moscow. He competed with a man 12 years his junior. A man fighting before his adoring countrymen.  A man who holds a world championship belt.
It was the kind of performance that will do nothing to hinder the Real Deal's” Hall-of-Fame credentials. He is a lock for Canastota.


But the reality is that Holyfield lost Saturday - to a faster, quicker, better man in WBO heavyweight champion Sultan Ibragimov.
And he lost convincingly, by scores of 117-111 (twice) and 118-110.


He was beaten to the punch after almost every exchange. And he was hurt by a guy who is not considered a big puncher. Really, it was no contest.


So, make no mistake, after Saturday’s whipping, Holyfield is finally done as a prime-time player. Done with a capital ‘D.’ It was the stake in heart of his boxing career – a final, emphatic exclamation point proclaiming the exit of one of boxing’s all-time greats.


Everyone has to say goodbye eventually. And the Ibragimov fight would be a great way for the proud Holyfield to do it. He was lucky to get the fight in the first place. He should count his blessings, retire to his estate in Georgia, and enjoy life.


But, afterwards, it was the same old disturbingly stubborn Holyfield, saying that, no, he wasn’t going to retire; and that, yes, he was going to stay the course and continue his ridiculous quest to become undisputed heavyweight champion again.
Had Holyfield won Saturday – that quest wouldn’t be considered quite so ridiculous. A victory would have provided his goal some momentum, and some meaning. He would have re-won a world title some eight years after losing his last world title to Lennox Lewis.


It would have been quite the statement. And quite the accomplishment.


But Holyfield didn’t come remotely close to upsetting Ibragimov Saturday. He landed one, two – maybe three punches of consequence. Ibragimov would dance one way, and Evander would go the other. Ibragimov would connect with a combination, and Holyfield would try to retaliate.


But he’d be swinging at ghosts.


As the fight wore on, Evander’s non-existent reflexes became more and more evident. He couldn’t sustain a decent pace. He couldn’t string together a combination. Heck, he could barely muster a solid punch.


But, he made it to the final bell, and that was something of a victory. For him. And for the old-timers everywhere.


Amazingly, though, there wasn’t a hint of disappointment in Holyfield’s voice afterward. Just that familiar, tired, “we'll get em next time” misguided enthusiasm.


Now, there’s a fine line between persistence and stupidity. And, for the longest time, we have all refrained from calling Holyfield’s impossible quest stupid.


But, let it be known that if Holyfield does indeed continue his career, he cannot be considered a smart man.


He’s got more riches than he could spend in three lifetimes. He’s got kids. He’s got people that love him. Why would he risk all that for something that he has already attained, several times over?


And, more importantly, for something that is impossible?
I, for one, will never watch another Evander Holyfield fight. I watched today, pretty much knowing what would happen. I was just hoping he would surprise us with a retirement announcement afterward.


Whatever, Evander. If you continue, you are destined to wind up like the dozens and dozens of fighters before you who wound up broke and brain-dead. Only, some of those fighters didn’t have a choice. Boxing was all they had. You can’t say that.


So, please, give boxing fans a gift and retire. In the long run, that will benefit you better than some cheap, plastic belt.
I promise you that.

M

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