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Still the Real Deal … but why?

23 Jan


On December 9th Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield will fight against some guy no one’s ever heard of in Detroit.  The fight was originally scheduled for November 5th, then rescheduled for November 12th, now is in early December.  Why? says “while sponsorship and TV negotiations were finalized.”  Translation: no one wanted to see this silly fight so there wasn’t enough money to pull it off.  Holyfield used to be “the man.”  He’s beaten George Foreman, Riddick Bowe, Larry Holmes, and Mike Tyson.  “The man” is the only person in history to be heavyweight champion four times.  “The man” has a video game named in his honor, carried the Olympic torch, appeared in several movies, and was on Dancing with the Stars when it was still a novelty.  Unfortunately, everything in that last sentence, save for the Dancing reference, happened in the 1990s.

Real Deal is old.  He’s 48 years old.  Forty eight is not old for an architect, engineer, or dentist, but its nursing home, assisted living, adult diapers, dentures, bifocals, wild nose/ear hair, hearing aid, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up, dirty old man old for a boxer.  People don’t like to watch the sweet science anymore; MMA is king, as the short attention span generation has clearly proven.  People especially don’t like to watch boxers who they think are members of the AARP.  I’m personally afraid that Real Deal is going to get killed in the ring (literally), end up with dementia pugilistica, end up with Parkinson’s disease like Muhammad Ali, or literally fight until the day no one sanctions any of his matches.  The New York State Athletic Commission has already banned Holyfield from boxing in the state secondary to “diminishing skills.”  Big boxing states in the US could easily do the same, but no foreign country would ever do that.  He could fight in Mexico, or Russia, or Uganda until he’s eligible for Medicare or until…

So why does Real Deal continue to fight?  The easy answer is that he has at least 11 children from more than a half dozen different women, and he’s got lots of child support payments to make.  Some say he’s addicted to the allure of the crowd and the rush of fighting.  Others believe Holyfield has an enormous ego, and that he actually believes that he can continue winning until he becomes heavyweight champion for the 5th time.  I recently spoke to a 70 year old former amateur boxer to ask his opinion of Holyfield.  The nice man told me that although his reflexes may certainly be slower now than most fighters, if Real Deal trained well for the fight and was dedicated to keeping his body healthy year round, he could still do lots of damage.  His opinion saddened me because he actually has dementia (which the neurologist believes is a consequence of his boxing), and I can only imagine that the only 4 time heavyweight champion probably thinks the exact same thing.

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