Tyson-Holyfield III: Testing Father Time?
By Gary Pino (Aug 12, 2004) 
Evander Holyfield
As time marches on, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson will test Father Time and will themselves to possibly another heavyweight crown. Whilst both aging warriors will no doubt continue fighting for vastly different reasons – one for money, the other for glory – there are nevertheless many similarities between the two former undisputed champions. Both fighters have surrounded themselves with 'yes men' in the last 12 years.

One has to question why Holyfield, at the ripe old age of 42 and a four-time world champion, would even consider pressing on? “He has accomplished everything he wanted in his career,” says his former manager Shelly Finkel. Holyfield has a history of firing managers and trainers when he hasn’t had success in the later stages of his career and he has turned a blind eye to everyone who had hinted or strongly suggested he retire. As Evander put it: “If am too old, why doesn’t someone beat me up and show me I should retire?” That being said, James Toney did just that! The fight was set for October 4, 2003 and it marked the first well established fighter that Toney would fight in the heavyweight division. Once again James Toney's conditioning would be questioned as many people felt that because he was now not required to make a weight limit he would simply just balloon up in weight. But this would not be the case as Toney approached the Holyfield fight seriously and underwent a diligent weight training regime in order to gain muscle weight rather than fat. As a result Toney came into the fight weighing a heavily muscled and powerful looking 217 lbs. During the course of the fight Toney looked like a true heavyweight as he stood toe-to-toe with one of boxing all time great warriors and traded heavy punches. Toney's greater handspeed and defensive skill enabled him to out-punch and batter Holyfield throughout most of the rounds. By round three, Toney made the fight look like a mismatch as he began to toy with a bloodied and beaten Holyfield. The end came in round nine when Toney landed a thudding body punch followed by an overhand right that floored Holyfield and prompted the referee to stop the fight.

Tyson on the other hand needed 'yes men' his whole career, but more so after he was released from prison in 1995. After taking everything Don King had to offer, he decided to stay with King and a variety of trainers and managers who convinced Tyson he was still 'The Baddest Man on The Planet'. Tyson was fed tomato cans until he dispatched a terrified Frank Bruno at the MGM Grand in 1996 in three rounds. This was arguably his best post-prison performance as he was in great shape and made quick work of Bruno to re-capture the WBC belt for a second time. After recapturing the title, 'Iron' Mike moved one step closer to his ultimate goal of unify the division by defeating Bruce Seldon in a one round destruction to capture the WBA title. Shortly after this Tyson’s advisors convinced him to relinquish the WBC belt to avoid Lennox Lewis in order to get the mega-fight with Evander Holyfield signed.

The fight billed as 'Finally' was a great heavyweight slugfest ending in a stunning upset with Evander stopping Mike with an eleventh round TKO. After the big fight came the infamous 'Bite Fight' in which Tyson bit part of Holyfield’s ear off in the third round of the re-match, Tyson was stripped of his boxing license, and both fighters careers have basically tanked ever since. After a string of victories of second and third tier opposition, Tyson was badly beaten by Lennox Lewis in Memphis in 2002, which prompted headlines everywhere that Mike should retire after the terrible beating he took in his attempt to win the title for a third time.

The following year Tyson returned to the ring with the world class Freddie Roach as his trainer, and with all the turmoil leading up to the fight, Tyson tattooed Clifford 'The Black Rhino' Etienne in 49 seconds. Once again Tyson was back in the picture, but with a lack of interest to follow up this victory, Mike wandered away from the ring and Roach for 17 months before bankruptcy brought him back into the picture last week against Danny Williams. Mike was lethal early and nearly ended the bout in the first round, but Williams survived and finished off a tired Tyson in the fourth round.

Now at this late stage in their careers both Tyson and Holyfield really need each other. Holyfield was hoping for a Tyson win to set up a possible Tyson-Holyfield III, but as in Tokyo in '92, Tyson lost and Holyfield is now campaigning to get Williams into the ring. Curiously, Williams wants to fight Tyson again, and risk facing a sharper and overall better Tyson in a rematch. A loss to Tyson would seriously damage his dreams of winning a world title. There is speculation that there is a rematch clause between the two camps and that it would actually exceed the first fight, especially after the exciting four rounds in Louisville. The Tyson camp can even sell the fight better by citing Tyson’s left knee as being the probable reason for the loss.

The moral to this whole heavyweight mess is the drawing power that Tyson still has. No matter the outcomes, for both Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield in the next year or two, they most certainly could get together and create a Tyson-Holyfield III PPV event which would be a very big payday for both aging warriors, who are well and truly past their respective primes. The question is can either of them stay healthy enough to even make the trip? Will this trip wind up back in Vegas as a final showdown for two great fighters in their day? One thing I would bet on for sure is if this fight does happen, Don King will probably promote it! Surprised?
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