Evander Holyfield's resume includes a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics and victories over all-time greats like Mike Tyson (twice), Riddick Bowe, George Foreman and Larry Holmes. He is the only four-time heavyweight champion in history. A little more than a decade ago, he was one of the 10 most famous athletes on the planet.
So what's he doing fighting at a West Virginia casino Saturday night against someone named Sherman "The Tank" Williams?
Holyfield, 48, wants to end his career as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, keeping a promise he made to himself after losing the WBA, WBC and IBF belts to Bowe in November 1992. Most boxing insiders dismiss his quest as quixotic at best, but it's hard to blame him for blocking out the Cassandra cries. Fact is, if Holyfield paid attention to critics, his career would have never gotten off the ground -- let alone reached the stratospheric heights he occupied throughout most of the 1990s.
Consider all the smart people Holyfield has proven wrong throughout his panoramic
There's no off switch for the indomitable self-belief that's propelled Holyfield, a born-again Christian who for years has embroidered Philippians 4:13 on his trunks. "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me," reads the scripture. And that's exactly what makes so many veteran observers uneasy about watching him soldier on: the unshakable faith many believe will pull Holyfield into a dark place. Remember: the New York State Athletic Commission banned him from boxing due to "diminishing skills." That was seven years ago.
SI.com spoke with Holyfield this week about Saturday's fight, the current state of the fight game and what separates a "boxer" from a "performer."
I hope that some of [those people] are younger and they can take some inspiration from this -- that if you take care of yourself, whatever you choose to do, you can do it a little longer than the people who chose not to.
When I fought Tyson I was old too. So when I beat Tyson, they kind of let up on that for a little while until the fight with John Ruiz, when [they said] I just got old overnight. I was fighting a guy who had such an awkward style. He fought everybody that way. Nobody ever looked good with John Ruiz because he didn't know what
My goal is to be undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. I don't have anything against the Klitschkos or David Haye. I want to fight for the title, and I don't mean no disrespect to nobody. I just believe that I can.
That's the same thing I'm trying to get the Klitschkos with. Ain't too many people out there got a good name like mine. I just have to be the guy who can bring that big payday. I ain't got nothing against that. If you can beat me you can beat me.
David Haye will fight you. You can always win against a guy who is fighting you back. But the Klitschkos now, they throw their two punches and they hold. And if the referees don't do their job you can get messed up, because they'll put you back on the outside where they can swing their two shots and they can grab you and hold you. Hopefully we'll find a referee who understands the inside of the boxing and the outside.
When you fight someone you're supposed to beat, they're not going to pay you a lot of money. But when the best fight the best all the time, you're gonna make some money. The art of the game is this: people love to see fighters fight for real. They don't want to just see you fighting somebody you know you can beat. They want to see what happens when you get caught a couple times.
TV does exactly what it's supposed to do: tele
No one in my neighborhood could tell me I couldn't make the Olympic team. First they said you ain't smart enough, but once I saw the Spinks brothers on TV, I thought if the two of
Today they're not showing it to the young people. They're not giving the story of how these young people come up in these rural areas and they choose to do something right. People today are saying, "Why do I want to watch people who are just fighters?" They don't realize that no matter what your skill level is you can choose to do something honest, and that's how I chose boxing.
When Tyson lost against Buster Douglas and I remember they were telling me in Japan, asking me if I felt bad and I told them no. I said my goal was to be heavyweight champ of the world. "Don't you know you would have made $15 million with Tyson?" I said it's money I never had.
People get mixed up. There's a lot of boxers who aren't performers. Tyson was a performer. I was a performer. You find that everybody who gets out there and they're good performers, they make a lot of money. You got some people who just box. [Floyd] Mayweather won't get a piece of what he wants. He's gonna fight whatever way it is that he can to get the win. If he was a performer -- like Sugar Ray Leonard or Marvin Hagler -- he'd come to fight. You've just got some people who come to fight, some people they could care less, they just want to win. They'll hold you; if it makes the fight a little ugly they could care less.
I'm a performer, and that means that I care about more than just myself. I want to win, but I want to look good too. I want to know my audience got a good show and they're pleased and that's what performers do.