Four-time World Heavyweight Champion, Evander Holyfield (38-8-2, Atlanta), will begin his quest for a history making - fifth heavyweight title when he returns to the ring to face veteran, Jeremy Bates (21-11-1, Ashland, KY), at Dallas’ American Airlines Center on Friday, August 18th. The Holyfield vs Bates, ten-round non-title bout will headline a seven-bout fight card which begins locally at 8:00 pm (Central time). The event will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net’s “Best Damn Sports Show” with air-time at 10:30 p.m. Eastern/9:30 p.m. Central time. The event was originally to be scheduled for Saturday, August 19, but was moved to August 18 to accommodate the FSN television broadcast.
Local Dallas/Fort Worth favorites scheduled for the card include Fort Worth fighters Sergio Reyes (14-4, Jr. Lightweight for action are Dallas’ Jesse Lara (10-0-1, Super Lightweight) a t, former U.S. Olympian) and Vanessa Juarez (1-0, Woman’s Bantamweight, 7-Time National Amateur
Opponents for Lara, Reyes and Juarez are to be announced, as is the remainder of the card.
Tickets for the event, which is being promoted by Holyfield’s, Real Deal Events, are priced at $200, $100, $75, $50 and $35, plus convenience charges. Tickets are available at the American Airlines Center Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.ticketmaster.com
For Holyfield, the bout with Bates will be his first ring appearance in 21 months since losing a unanimous decision to former Olympian Larry Donald, on November 13, 2004.
Getting back into the ring and pursuing his dream of a fifth World Heavyweight title is something Holyfield has been looking forward to.
“I’m really excited to finally get back in there and see if I can finish what I started,” said Holyfield, the 43 year-old native of Atlanta. “After I lost my title the last time to Chris Byrd (Dec. 14, 2002), I was determined to get it back. Obviously, I got sidetracked. I tried to fight with some injuries (shoulder) and just wasn’t the same Evander Holyfield.”
Following the loss to Byrd, Holyfield’s luck didn’t get any better, losing consecutive fights to #1 World Heavyweight contender, James Toney and Donald. The loss to Donald finally convinced him it was time to rest his body and allow a nagging shoulder injury to heal, as well as collect his thoughts.
“It was time for me to take off, get well and regroup,” Holyfield explained. “Now I’m completely healthy for the first time in several years and I’m ready to get back my title as the Undisputed, Heavyweight Champion of the World.”
Holyfield’s fight with Bates will mark the first time ever for a (current or former) World Heavyweight Champion to fight in Dallas. “I’m pumped up, big time, about fighting in Dallas,” beamed Holyfield. “I really started getting excited about fighting there after watching the Mavericks play at the American Airlines Center in the NBA Playoffs.”
“I know Dallas has some great sports fans and the new Arena there is supposed to be one of the nicest in the country. When I was watching the playoffs, I could see myself in the ring there. I think it’s a great place to start Holyfield V, The Final Chapter.”
For Bates, there will probably never be a run at a world title, but his bout with Holyfield presents a storybook opportunity.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity of a lifetime for me or any fighter to fight a legend like Evander Holyfield,” said an honored Bates from his West Virginia home.
“To be in the ring with an idol of mine and a legend like Evander is a big thrill. But as much as I admire and respect him, he’s still the opposition and I’m looking to use him the way he’s trying to use me.
“No question this is the biggest fight of my life. In fact, Evander would be the biggest fight of just about any fighter’s life. But I plan to win and I believe I have a great chance to do so. If I’m at my best and Evander is off, I’m going to win the fight. ”
Bates’ manager, Jerry Thomas, can envision his fighter beating Holyfield. “This is truly a real Rocky story,” said Thomas. “You have a no-name fighter in Jeremy being given an opportunity of a lifetime against a great, but aging fighter in Evander. I can see this being a very tough fight for both guys. Idol or no idol, Jeremy is coming to Dallas to kick Evander Holyfield’s butt – just like anyone else he faces.”
Holyfield has faced more than his share of fighters trying to make a name for themselves against him. He began his professional career after winning a Bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. “I always seem to get the best of every fighter,” said Holyfield. “They train harder and fight harder against someone like me and I know it won’t be any different with Bates. He may not be a world champion, but he’s proven he’s a warrior and will take it to anyone. That’s what I liked about him and why he’s getting this opportunity. He’s earned the right to fight me.”
Non-title fights have been rare for Holyfield since winning his first World Title – the WBA World Cruiserweight Championship in 1986 over Dwight Muhammad Qawi in his hometown of Atlanta. Holyfield would eventually capture the WBC and IBF crowns, also -- becoming the undisputed World Cruiserweight Champion.
After a four year reign as the World Cruiserweight champion, Holyfield moved up to the heavyweight ranks and eventually got a shot at champion, Buster Douglas. Holyfield shocked the world when he upset heavily favored Douglass for the Undisputed (IBF, WBA, WBC) World Heavyweight Championship, in 1990. It was Douglas who was the 40-1 underdog when he knocked out Mike Tyson to win the title and then got knocked out by Holyfield in the third round in his only title defense.
Holyfield would go on to make boxing history by becoming the only four-time World Heavyweight Champion. Muhammad Ali was the only other three-time World Heavyweight Champion. Along the way, Holyfield would defeat 15 World Champions, including the legends Mike Tyson (twice), Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Riddick Bowe (twice).
In all, Holyfield has fought 23 World title fights, compiling an impressive 16-5-2 record in those bouts.
“I’ve had a great career and the book is almost written,” said Holyfield. “But we have one final chapter where I win the World Heavyweight Championship for the fifth time. And on August 19th in Dallas, the Final Chapter begins.”