Thursday, August 10, 2006
Against All Odds
By Mike Puma
Special to ESPN.com
November 9, 1996 - It was supposed to be a mismatch Mike Tyson against Evander Holyfield. And it was, but not the way fight fans expected it.
Holyfield took away Tyson's WBA crown, becoming a heavyweight champ for the third time with a dominating performance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. A 7½-1 underdog (down from an opening line of 25-1), the 34-year-old challenger didn't resemble the man who had lost three of his previous seven fights.
Holyfield, who at 215 was seven pounds lighter than the champ, controlled the bout throughout. He knocked down the not-so Iron Mike with a left hook in the sixth round, only the second time Tyson had hit the canvas in 47 professional fights. He battered Tyson severely in the 10th and after rocking the former bully with right-left combinations in the 11th, referee Mitch Halpern stopped the fight 37 seconds into the round. "The man was out," Halpern said.
Holyfield, who earned $11 million ($19 million less than Tyson), was way ahead on all three scorecards. The TKO raised his record to 33-3 with 24 knockouts, while Tyson fell to 45-2.
Odds 'n' Ends
Before he became hooked on boxing, Holyfield's dream was to play for the hometown Atlanta Falcons.
Holyfield, who started fighting at eight, didn't lose a bout until he was 11.
Holyfield didn't meet his natural father until he was 21.
At the 1983 Pan Am Games, Holyfield won the silver medal.
Before turning professional, he supported himself by pumping airline fuel. He also worked as a certified swim instructor and lifeguard.
As an amateur, Holyfield compiled a 169-11 record.
In his pro debut in 1984 in Madison Square Garden in a nationally televised bout, he scored a unanimous six-round decision over Lionel Byarm.
In May 1985, Holyfield married Paulette Bowen, who was five months pregnant with their second child. The couple later had a third child together.
When Holyfield took a 15-round decision over Dwight Muhammad Qawi to win the WBA cruiserweight title, he lost 15 pounds during the bout and had to be taken to the hospital afterwards.
Holyfield wanted a shot at Tyson in 1990, but never got it. Tyson, then the unbeaten heavyweight champion, was upset by Buster Douglas. Holyfield had been next in line to fight Tyson, but got Douglas instead.
In 1990, a week before Holyfield faced Douglas for the heavyweight title, Paulette Holyfield filed for divorce.
After losing to Riddick Bowe in November 1992, Holyfield, then 30, said he intended to retire. He returned to the ring in June 1993.
In 1992, Holyfield's brother Willie was murdered.
Four years later, Holyfield's mother Annie died from injuries sustained in a car accident.
In 1998, Holyfield's brother James was sentenced to life in prison for child molestation and rape.
Holyfield admitted in September 1998 -- one week after his second wife Janice gave birth to the couple's first child -- that he had fathered two other children out of wedlock in the past year. It gave Holyfield five children born out of wedlock to four women.
Janice and Holyfield were divorced in 2000.
After losing a lopsided decision to Larry Donald in November 2004, Holyfield had his license suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission because he was deemed unfit to continue fighting. Under the sanctions, Holyfield was banned from fighting in the U.S.
After passing a series of medical tests in 2005, his suspension was changed from medical to administrative, allowing him to seek licenses in individual states. In June 2006 he was granted a license in Texas.
In 2005, Holyfield appeared on the ABC show "Dancing with the Stars." He and his partner, Edyta Sliwinska, were the second couple eliminated from the competition.
Holyfield has appeared in the movies Summer of Sam, Necessary Roughness and Blood Salvage (for which he also served as the film's co-executive producer).
Holyfield's business interests include his management company (Holyfield Management, Inc.), his clothing company (Warrior Properties) and his record company (Real Deal Records).