|We'll Still Call You 'Champ'
By Coyote Duran, DoghouseBoxing.com (Dec 26, 2008)
In his prime, can you imagine what Evander Holyfield could've done to WBA heavyweight titleholder Nicolay Valuev? After Saturday night's blatant kick-in-the-ass (not 'ass-kicking', mind you) 'The Real Deal' received, one's mind can certainly conjure up any number of possibilities leading to a Holyfield win. It's just too bad that all the 'What if's' in the world are nothing more than a list of ingredients in a minced moot pie.
What we saw in circa 2008-Holyfield against 'The Russian Giant' was not the fighter in denial we're so accustomed to; but a man who not only knew what he was doing. For a change, he knew he was the fighter living on borrowed time.
Holyfield, 42-10-2 (27), looked like a fighter who deserved a 'world' ranking; not one who was curiously installed by a dubious alphabet organization after a year of inactivity and a listless loss. There was movement and guile, skill and calculation, joy and confidence. But a methodical 12-round battle (if you wanna call it that) is still a methodical 12-round battle; subject to a lack of dominance and a small serving of continental homecooking.
Still two of the three judges scoring the fight, Mikael Hook and Pierlugi Poppi saw Valuev's uninspired effort sufficient enough. Their cards, of course, trumped Guillermo Perez Pineda's finding of a draw; giving Valuev his 50th win. The crowd filling Zurich, Switzerland's Hallenstadion, wasn't so convinced they saw the same and didn't hide it.
All of a sudden, the fans weren't dictating the All-Time-Great's retirement. They were asking Holyfield to stay.
As a fighter living on borrowed time, Holyfield gave surprisingly; relative to his last six years' worth of achievements. With a record of 4-4 (leading up to the fight) over said six years, Holyfield pretty much needed the kind of performance to keep any other fighter within consideration for opportunity; when on the downside. However, for every one of Zab Judah's or Arturo Gatti's intermittent flashes of utter genius in watchibility, there's our expectation of such. We know that when Zab sucks in a fight, odds are good that he'll come back in one or two fights and shine. Ditto for Gatti. We're still craving his replacement.
Holyfield kept his 'up with hope' outlook intact. Hey, thumbs up, man. Against Valuev, 50-1 (34) with one no-contest, the former Undisputed Cruiserweight and Heavyweight Champion gave what we gave up expecting a long time ago: proof of some sort of contentional validity.
Something John Ruiz lacked against Valuev. The same thing Oscar De La Hoya lacked against Manny Pacquiao. Sad, huh?
Now, instead of the farewell party we've been postponing, we're now talking rematch. It was hard to deny the possibility; even for those representing Valuev's team, Sauerland Event. Still, if it comes off, Valuev-Holyfield II can only happen if Valuev defeats Ruslan Chagaev; the WBA's (snicker) 'champion-in-recess'.
Yes, the heavyweight division is that needy that belt-doling organizations are giving out novelty belts, 'rookie league baseball' style. Yay! Everybody gets an award! Welcome to boxing.
And is this the real reason Holyfield continues with the once-fruitless insistence that he'll be World Heavyweight Champion before he retires? If it's based on the notion that there's no one anyone really gives a damn about running things, then you'd better believe it. Holyfield deluded? Jeez, it sounds like he knew more than we did all along.
Still, it doesn't make it any more believable in the context of Holyfield's previous fight against Sultan Ibragimov. Or the one before that against Lou Savarese. Or the one before that against Vinny Maddalone.
But it's gotta make you feel all warm and fuzzy nonetheless.
Getting back to a Valuev-Holyfield rematch, is it good for the heavyweights? Yeah, for now. Provided Valuev doesn't make the same mistakes he did against Chagaev the first time. The same mistakes Valuev made when defending against Holyfield. In fact, if I wasn't so sure Holyfield was a black fighter from Atlanta and Chagaev was a white fighter from the Eastern Bloc, I would say I was watching some sort of recast rebroadcast. But Chagaev is also a member of 'The Illness of the Month Club'. Go figure. The first guy to ever hand 'The Giant' a loss gets underdog odds against a flu bug.
Promoter Wilfried Sauerland's gonna feel the pressure. Whether or not he gives in to the unanswered questions and the might of fans wanting more, is another story. Sauerland and Valuev have to prove the latter is worthy of a 'world heavyweight championship'. Do you realize how difficult that has to be when you're over seven feet tall and you can't pull the trigger against a past-his-prime, 46 year-old? Consider their task unsuccessfully done a week ago. Yes, Valuev is a gentleman, if there ever was one. A World Heavyweight Champion? Please. I didn't hear a laugh track.
Speaking of 46, now the walls of the box contain only so much area to move; if you're Holyfield. New faith in your achievements is great but that borrowed time still needs repayment with interest. If you're Holyfield, you're not denying it. You're getting it.
What really sucks is that Evander Holyfield could really make the nowadays cruiserweight limit of 200 pounds if he wanted to but wouldn't last against ‘The Ring’ Magazine World Champion Tomasz Adamek (and just how cool does that sound? Come on; admit it) or Steve Cunningham. Hell, young Aaron Williams would throw an ass-kicking Holyfield's way because, fighters like Holyfield unknowingly mold fighters like Williams (so would that be an ass-kicking or an homage of irony?). What's left but heavyweight?
Meet us halfway, Evander. You've got one last chance. Take the rematch if Valuev offers it and if or when you win, just bounce, man. Don't worry about 'Undisputed'. Just get your belt and go home. We'll get it too. And we'll probably still call you 'champ'.
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