Holyfield pulls out close decision
The next chapter of Evander Holyfield's (40-8-2, 26 KOs) career was decided at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, before a crowd of thousands that came out to see the aging warrior take on a major test in Fres Oquendo (26-4, 16 KOs).
Holyfield had enough left in the tank to pull out a close unanimous decision over Oquendo. The fight was fought at a close pace, and many ringside observers, including the FOX Sports Net commentators, thought Oquendo had won the contest by very close margins.
The deciding factor in the scoring was the first round that saw Holyfield score a knockdown after catching Oquendo with a hard right hand. Oquendo seemed to immediately work his way back into the fight by outboxing Holyfield for a majority of the rounds. The problem is that several rounds of the fight were fought at a slow pace, which made them seem closer to the judges than they actually were.
Regardless of the closeness of the fight, Holyfield still put on a better performance than several of his last fights. Few gave Holyfield a shot to win a decision against the younger Oquendo, but once again he proves the critics wrong. The scores were 116-111, 114-113 and 114-113, all for Holyfield.
Next stop for Holyfield — a title shot conquest.
It's almost unimaginable to think of a fighter lasting in the sport as long as Evander Holyfield. He made his debut on November 15, 1984 in New York's Madison Square Garden, scoring a six-round decision over Lionel Bynarm.
On July 12, 1986, Holyfield won his first world title when he snatched the WBA cruiserweight title by way of a split-decision verdict over Dwight Muhammad Qawi at The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia. The bout with Qawi is still regarded as one of greatest cruiserweights bouts in the history of the boxing. Less than a year later, he added the IBF version of the cruiserweight title when he met Ricky Parkey in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and stopped him within 3 rounds.
The following year, on April 9, 1988, Holyfield stopped Carlos De Leon in Las Vegas to capture the WBC cruiserweight title, unifying the entire division in the process.
Holyfield's reign at cruiserweight did not last long as he immediately moved up to the heavyweight division in his very next bout, which saw him stop James Tillis in five rounds.
Upon moving up to the heavyweight division, Holyfield was met with an abundance of criticism from the boxing public. He was told that he was too small to compete at heavyweight, that his punch was not strong enough and his heart was not big enough.
The critics began to take notice when Holyfield would knockout his next five opponents in destructive fashion. These were not tomato cans that he was fighting, these were fighters like a 24-0 undefeated Alex Stewart, former heavyweight champion Pinklin Thomas and a 37-1 Michael Dokes.
After stopping six straight opponents, Holyfield was on course to meet the biggest name in boxing, unified champion Mike Tyson. Before the fight could be made, Tyson was unexpectedly knocked out by James "Buster" Douglas in Japan. The Tyson loss did not stop Holyfield's march, he faced Douglas on October 25, 1990 in Las Vegas, and it took him only three rounds to dispose of Douglas and capture the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.
Over the next couple of years, Holyfield would cement his name into boxing history books by facing the very best fighters in the heavyweight division. No other heavyweight in the last 20-years has faced a better level of opposition in their career.
Some of big hits on his resume include two fights with Mike Tyson, two fights with Lennox Lewis, two fights with Michael Moorer, Ray Mercer, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Chris Byrd, Hasim Rahman, Buster Douglas, three fights with Riddick Bowe, James Toney, three fights with John Ruiz, Bert Cooper, two fights with Alex Stewart, Pinklin Thomas, Michael Dokes and Bobby Czyz. The list reads off like a who's who of heavyweights talents to grace the division during the last twenty years.
Unlike Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, only Holyfield can clearly say he fought every major name during his career.
Even Holyfield can't believe that 22-years and four heavyweight title reigns have gone by since he debuted in 1984. Most of Holyfield's opponents have retired from the sport. Some of his opponents have already been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of- ame. All of them must watch in disbelief as Holyfield is still a major player in the heavyweight division, still collecting large paydays in the process and keeping his name in the mix for championship bouts.
There was talk of Holyfield facing either WBC champion Oleg Maskaev or IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2007. The preferred choice would obviously be Oleg Maskaev, viewed as the easier fighter to beat, and stylistically matches up to Holyfield.
Just when you think he's gone away, he comes back to shock all of us. It will be interesting to see how Holyfield's title conquest turns out. He was able to beat a live opponent who is ranked among the major sanctioning bodies. The only thing left for him is to land a title shot, and attempt to win the heavyweight title for a record fifth time in his career.