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Next month, 46 year old Evander Holyfield will attempt to become the oldest man to win a heavyweight title. Bill Littlefield is dismayed.
Old Holyfield will fight again. In 2004 he performed so poorly in a lopsided loss to a fighter named Larry Donald that the New York State Athletic Commission suspended Old Holyfield’s license, declaring him medically unfit to compete. This meant he could no longer fight anywhere in this country. The grounds for that suspension were changed from “medical” to “administrative” a year later. A skeptic might be forgiven for assuming money changed hands. To argue that Old Holyfield is ready for competition would seem to be a stretch. He has been inactive since losing badly to somebody named Sultan Ibragimov a little over a year ago. He has lost four title fights since 2000. He has won none. This is not to suggest that Old Holyfield’s life has lacked excitement. Last month he was threatened with jail time for failing to make various child support payments. In fairness to Old Holyfield, he has fathered five children in partnership with four women to whom he wasn’t married. The accounting must be challenging. Last spring, following reports that he might lose his one hundred nine room mansion to a bank which has since gone under – not, perhaps, solely because one of its clients was Old Holyfield – the ex-champ claimed he was “not broke.” He maintains that he’ll be fighting next month in Switzerland only because he wants to become the heavyweight champion again. Can you name the man Old Holyfield will have to beat to achieve that distinction? Until I started reading about Old Holyfield this week, neither could I. The current WBA Heavyweight Champ is Nikolai Valuev. He is seven feet tall, and he weighs three hundred thirty pounds – about one hundred pounds more than Old Holyfield. Of his defense against Old Holyfield, Mr. Valuev, who, wisely, has already begun a second career in the movies, said this week, “Ten years ago I would not have dreamed of getting into the ring with this champion.” This suggests that Mr. Valuev is a thoughtful fellow. Or perhaps – unlike Old Holyfield - he is managed by thoughtful fellows.
This program aired on November 21, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.
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