Evander Holyfield will step into the ring on November 13th, 2004. Evander makes no bones about it, he wants to be a 5 time world champion, and a win against Larry Donald will inch him a little closer to achieving this goal. I recently had an opportunity to speak to the former champion. We talked about his upcoming fight, we talked about his new trainer Ronnie Shields, and we talked about how the media, and various other people desire him to quit the fight game. Holyfield speaks candidly to boxingtalk on these issues, and I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did conducting it.BC: Evander, on behalf of the boxingtalk staff, and the boxingtalk readers I want to thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule to speak to me.
EH: No problem Brad.BC: Champ, you have a big fight November 13th against Larry Donald. A win will put you a little closer to that opportunity for a 5th world title. This is something you are really wanting to happen isn't it?
EH: My goal was to be the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, now that goal has provided me with an opportunity to be the 5 time Heavyweight Champion of
the world.BC: Evander, let's talk about your new trainer. You changed directions, and brought on board Ronnie Shields, what is the one thing that Ronnie brings to the table that most impresses you so far?
EH: Well, one thing that Ronnie brings to me is the fact he has been with me back in the days of Lou Duva.. Ronnie is able to bring me back to the basics.... he brings me back to things that I used to do back in the day. He remembers what I did back when I was the champion, and he reminds me of things that I have stopped doing now, that I used to do back in the day. In reality, you got to box your basics…BC: Evander, in recent years you have been fighting a battle on a couple of fronts.. one being just training, to continue your boxing career... and the other being the constant pressure by many people for you to retire. Champ, I am guessing that that must get pretty old for you....
EH: Well, you are absolutely right Brad.... the fact is, I did let that effect me a little bit. I guess in one way I didn't think that it did effect me, but it effected me in bigger way than I thought it was going to do. The fact that everybody told me that I was getting too old did bother me some. I got caught up in what people were saying, and I started to think that I didn't need to get any older.... I better start doing things quickly....now.BC: Evander, I would think that bringing Ronnie Shields on board probably helps you a lot.. he probably see's things now that your previoius trainer didn't....
EH: Absolutely, one thing is when people don't know how you got there..and they don't know that you aren't doing the things you used to do.....they are just thinking, "he must be off today"....They just think that you aint pulling the trigger today... but people who realize what you used to do, and they see that you are no longer doing it... it sticks out...they are able to tell me, either you can't do that anymore.. or we need to work on that again.....when a person doesn't know what you used to do, they don't ask you to do it, so you don't do it... on the contrary, if a person see's that you are not doing what you used to do, they will point this out to me.BC: Champ, I am guessing that when you have a trainer in your camp that also believes in you...that has to go a long way too.
EH: (laughing).... oh man, that is so true... that is the most exciting part about it... that really puts the fun back into the game.BC: Evander, being optimistic and up for a fight is huge...especially when you are fighting on this level.
EH: Really... really it's amazing when you have someone in your corner what that does. When they really feel you can do it, they put the work in themselves for you. They go that extra mile for you.. but if you are with someone that doesn't believe in you, they feel that they are wasting their time with you, and that they shouldn't be putting in the extra time for you. BC: Champ, let's talk about the fight with Larry Donald some more... Larry is quoted as saying that he is going to take this fight away from you... and that he will use speed and movement to beat you... Champ, what will you bring into this fight against him, as to not fall into his trap?
EH: Well you know the big thing is... he is supposed to fight his fight... that's what he is supposed to try and do. But the fact is I know what I can do, and he is not going to win.. I have to use all of my experience, and ultimately fight a smart fight.. and use all of this to the best of my ability. I will give him a fight that he is uncomfortable with. If he wants to fight on the outside, I will force him to fight me on the inside, and he don't want that. BC: Champ, how are you feeling both mentally, and physically... you feel ready for the fight?
EH: I feel great..... I feel better than I have felt in a long time.. the confidence is there... and with confidence there, that is a plus....... BC: Evander, I spent a few days out with Freddie Roach earlier this week. I had an opportunity to speak with a lot of people out there about your fight coming up. I found that mst of the fighters actually support your comeback attempt, and it is the non fighters that mostly complain about it. What in your opinion bests explains this?
EH: Well, it means that some people who are not fighters.. like some sports writers, or just some of the regular boxing fans don't see the game for what it really is.. they see it for their work, and their writing, and they feel that one at a certain age shouldn't do it, and that it is a young mans game.. they don't realize that it's a game that is as skillfull as it really is.. they don't realize that a certain age, you can still do this.. you just have to make adjustments...I don't like it when they come and tell me that I just can't fight, because they think I can't.. pretty much everybody in boxing has been told by someone in life that they aren't going to do nothing... and that makes them work harder..and makes them willing to endure to show what they really are.BC: Champ, back to the fight real quick, is there anything in Larry Donald's arsenal that worries you?
EH: No, not really.. this guy is who he is.. it doesn't really make any difference.. he moves around a lot.. you can want him to get down with you..but half the time he is not..but if he does, that's great..but that's all part of boxing... if a guy fights you the perfect way you want him to fight you..you would beat everyone (laughing)... The guy has fast hands, and he takes some good shots... Everybody that I tend to fight, usually fights me better then they usually fight... so I don't take him lightly.BC: Evander, the flip side of that is that he has never fought a 4 time world champion either (laughing) so, he may have some worrying to do himself...
EH: (laughing)...yep, that's true... BC: Evander, how is your shoulder doing?
EH: My shoulder is doing a lot better... much better.BC: Champ, on the 14th of November the fight fans will have something to say about this fight.. what is your prediction on what the boxingtalk headlines will say on the 14th?
EH: I think people will say "man, that guy Evander must have been joking... How in the world is he going to fight so bad, and now all of the sudden he is fighting this good"??BC: Champ.. good luck to you with your fight... and I look forward to speaking to you after the fight.
EH: Ok Brad..thank you.
Very special thank you to Tavisa Thomas for helping me set up this interview.
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