Evander Holyfield (born October 19, 1962) is a professional boxer who has earned millions of dollars and made history. He won a bronze medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games after losing a controversial disqualification to New Zealand's Kevin Barry. His nickname is The Real Deal.
He debuted as a professional boxer with a nationally televised win in six rounds over Lionel Byarm at the Madison Square Garden, November 15, 1984. He immediately began stepping up in class, as he began 1985 with a win over Eric Winbush, a fighter who had beaten former world Light Heavyweight champion Matthew Saad Muhammad two years before. He had six more wins that year, including victories against Tyrone Booze and former world title challenger Anthony Davis.
He began 1986 with a knockout in three over former world Cruiserweight challenger Chisanda Mutti, and proceeded to beat Jessy Shelby and Terry Mims before being given a world title try by the WBA's world Cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi. In what was called by Ring Magazine as the best cruiserweight bout of the 1980s, Holyfield became world champion by defeating Qawi by a narrow 15 round unanimous decision. He culminated 1986 with a trip to Paris, France, where he beat Mike Brothers by a knockout in three in a non title bout.
In 1987, he defended his title against former Olympic teammate and Gold medal winner Henry Tillman, a guy who had beaten Mike Tyson twice as an amateur. He retained his belt by a knockout in seven rounds, and then went on to unify his WBA belt with the IBF belt held by the IBF's world champion Ricky Parkey, knocking Parkey out in three rounds. For his next bout, he returned to France, where he retained the title with an eleven round knockout against former world champion Ossie Ocasio. In his last fight of '87, he offered Muhammad Qawi a rematch, and this time, he beat Qawi by a knockout in four.
1988 was another productive year for Holyfield: He started by becoming the first, and to this date, only universally recognized world Cruiserweight champion after knocking out the WBC's defending world champion Carlos De Leon in eight rounds at Las Vegas. After that fight, he announced he was moving up in weight to pursue the world Heavyweight crown held by Tyson. His first fight as a Heavyweight took place on July 16, when he beat former Tyson rival James Quick Tillis by a knockout in five at Las Vegas. For his third and final bout of '88, he beat former world Heavyweight champion Pinklon Thomas, also by a knockout, in seven rounds.
Holyfield began 1989 meeting another former world Heavyweight champion, Michael Dokes. This fight would also be named one of the best fights of the 1980s by Ring magazine, as best Heavyweight bout of the 1980s. Holyfield won by a knockout in the tenth round, and then he met Brazilian champion Adilson Rodrigues, who lasted 2 rounds. His last fight of the 1980s was against Alex Stewart, a fringe contender who was beaten by Holyfield in eight by a technical knockout.
In 1990, Holyfield beat Seamus McDonaugh by a knockout in four, and was by then, ranked number 1 among the world's Heavyweight challengers. By then, however, what is considered one of the biggest upsets in sports history had happened, when James Buster Douglas knocked Tyson out in 10 rounds in February at Tokyo to become the world's Heavyweight champion. And so Holyfield had no choice but to challenge Douglas instead. In the first Pay Per View telecast of boxing in history, Holyfield became the undisputed Heavyweight champion of the world when he knocked Douglas out in three rounds.
In his first defense, he beat former and future world champion George Foreman by a decision in 12, and then a deal was signed for him to defend his crown against Tyson. Tyson was convicted of the rape of Desiree Washington and sentenced to six years in jail, and the proposed fight did not come off at that time. While the outcome of Tyson's juridical case was decided, Holyfield made a defense in Atlanta against Bert Cooper, against whom he had to recover from the first knockdown suffered in his career when Cooper floored him in round three, but he recuperated and knocked Cooper out in round seven.
By 1992, Holyfield was already a household name, announcing multiple products on television, such as Coca Cola and their sugar-free sidekick Diet Coke. He also had a video game released for the Sega genesis: Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Boxing. He started professing his Christianity everywhere, reminding the public before and after his fights that he is a newborn Christian, and wearing t-shirts with the word Pray in public.
In his first fight that year, he faced former world Heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, and retained the belt, once again by unanimous decision. But for his next fight , he wasn't as lucky: In the beginning of a trilogy of bouts with Riddick Bowe, he suffered his first defeat when Bowe won the world title by a 12 round decision in Las Vegas. Round 10 of that bout was named the Round of the year by Ring Magazine.
He began 1993 by beating Stewart in a rematch, but this time over the 12 round distance. Then came the rematch with Bowe. In what is considered by many historians as one of the most bizarre moments in boxing's history, Holyfield had Bowe pinned against the ropes near the end of round seven, when everyone in the crowd got off their feet and many people started to cover and yell. Holyfield took his eyes off Bowe for one moment and then told Bowe to look up to the skies. What they saw was a man in a parachute flying dangerously close to them. The man landed inside the ring, but tripped off onto one of the ring's corners, where he proceeded to be beaten by members of Bowe's entourage. 20 minutes later, calm was restored and Holyfield went on to recover his world Heavyweight titles with a 12 round majority decision. The guy who parachuted down to the middle of the ring became known as The Fan Man.
For his next fight, in April of 1994, he met former WBO Light Heavyweight champion of the world Michael Moorer, who was attempting to become the first lefty to become world's Heavyweight champion. He dropped Moorer in round two, but suffered a dislocated shoulder, and lost a 12 round majority decision. When he went to the hospital to have his shoulder checked, he was diagnosed also with a heart condition, and had to announce his retirement from boxing. However, watching a television show hosted by preacher Benny Hinn, Holyfield says he felt his heart heal. He and Hinn subsequently became friends, and he became a frequent visitor to Hinn's show. In 1995, Holyfield returned to the ring, with a ten round decision win versus another former world Heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist, Ray Mercer. Then, he and Bowe had their rubber match, and Bowe prevailed, by a knockout in eight.
However, 1996, was a very good year for Holyfield. First, he met former world champion Bobby Czyz, beating him by a knockout in six. Then, he and Tyson finally met. Tyson had recovered the WBA's world Heavyweight championship, and defended it against Holyfield on November 9 of that year. Holyfield made history by joining Muhammad Ali as the only two men ever to become world Heavyweight champions three times, and Ali, former rival De Leon, Sugar Ray Robinson and Marvin Johnson among others, in the club of men who have reigned three or more times in the same division, when he knocked Tyson out in the eleventh round. Holyfield also had the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch when it was on its way to his hometown of Atlanta for that year's Olympics.
His next fight would also go into the annals of boxing as one of the most bizarre fights in history: He gave Tyson a rematch on June 28, 1997, in what became known as the byte fight. In the third round, Tyson bit Holyfield on one of his ears, and he lost a point. After biting Holyfield on the other ear, he got disqualified and a melee ensued. After peace was restored inside the ring, a piece of one of Holyfield's ear was found lying around, and it had to be surgically repaired on the hours after the rematch.
Next came another rematch, this time against Moorer, who had recovered the IBF's world title. Holyfield once again unified his WBA belt with the IBF belt by avenging his defeat to Moorer with a knockout win in eight.
In 1998, Holyfield had only one fight, making a mandatory against Vaughn Bean, who was defeated at the champion's hometown by a decision. By this time, Holyfield was forced to announce that he believed to have as many as nine out of wedlock children, and his marriage was affected by that announcement.
By 1999, the public was clamoring for a unification bout versus the WBC's world champion, Lennox Lewis of England. That bout happened in February of that year, and things were left right where they were at, when the bout was declared a draw after twelve rounds. They were ordered by the three leading organizations of which they were champions to have an immediate rematch, and the second time around, in November of that year, Lewis became the undisputed champion by beating Holyfield by a unanimous decision.
In 2000, Lewis was stripped of the WBA belt for failing to meet John Ruiz, and the WBA ordered Holyfield and Ruiz to meet for that organization's world title belt. Holyfield and Ruiz began their trilogy in August of that year, with Holyfield making history by winning on a 12 round unanimous decision to become the first boxer in history to be world's Heavyweight champion four times. The WBA ordered an immediate rematch, however, and seven months later, in March of 2001, it was Ruiz's turn to make history at Holyfield's expense when he beat Holyfield by a 12 round decision to become the first hispanic ever to win the world's Heavyweight title. On December 15 of that year, Holyfield challenged Ruiz for the title, in an attempt to become the first guy to win the Heavyweight title five times, but he only managed a 12 round draw in the completion of their trilogy.
2002 began as a promising year for Holyfield: in June, he met former world Heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, to determine who would face Lewis next. Holyfield was leading on two of the three scorecards when he accidentally headbutted Rahman in round seven, and as a consequence, they had to determine the winner by going to the scorecards during the eighth round. Holyfield was ahead, so he was declared the winner by a technical decision. But Lewis refused to meet him for a third time, provoking a situation similar to the one when he refused to meet Ruiz. So, the IBF decided to strip Lewis of his belt, and declared the winner of the fight between Holyfield and former WBO world Heavyweight champion Chris Byrd would be recognized as their world Heavyweight champion. So, on December 14 of '02, Holyfield once again tried to become the first man ever to be world's Heavyweight champion five times when he and Byrd met, but Byrd came out as the winner by a unanimous 12 round decision.
After the fight, Holyfield, who owns a very large mansion with a personal gym in Atlanta, told HBO Boxing's Larry Merchant that he plans to keep on going on with boxing.
Currently, he has a record of 37 wins, 7 losses and 2 draws, with 25 wins by knockout.