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Evander Holyfield: 'It's Not Because I Need The Money'

Jan 16, 2011 – 7:11 PM
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Lem Satterfield

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In this FanHouse Q&A, four-time heavyweight champion Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield, who turned 48 on Oct 19, talks about the fact that he will participate in the 56th fight of a career that began on Nov. 15, 1984 when he meets 38-year-old Sherman "Tank" Williams at the Greenbrier Resort in southeastern West Virginia on Jan. 22.

In preparation for Williams (34-11-2, 19 knockouts), Holyfield (43-10-2, 28 KOs) is being trained by 56-year-old Tommy Brooks. Brooks has worked with former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and sibling heavyweight kings Wladimir Klitschko (55-3, 49 KOs) of the WBO, IBF and IBO, and his brother Vitali Klitschko (41-2, 38 KOs). Brooks also has contributed to the careers of former heavyweight titlist Hasim Rahman, as well as world champions Mike McCallum, Johnny Bumphus and Vinny Pazienza.

Among other things, Holyfield addressed his goal of defeating one of the Klitschko brothers or WBA heavyweight king David Haye (25-1, 23 KOs), of England, a feat which would surpass George Foreman as the oldest fighter in the history of the sport to win a significant world title. A then-45-year-old Foreman knocked out Michael Moorer in the 10th round on November 5, 1994, to become the eldest man to win a heavyweight crown.

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FanHouse: What is your take on the back-and-fourth exchanges and the intermittent negotiations between the Klitschkos and David Haye?

Evander Holyfield: Well, right now, I don't know what's really going on. I just know that they're discussing the possibility of having a fight, and I don't know whether its going to get made or not get made. How does it relate to me?

The Klitschkos have the belts and David Haye has a belt, and so ultimately that's who I have to fight. I'm just hoping that they give me a title shot. I know that the Klitschkos are considering Tomasz Adamek as well.

But, you know, someone is going to have to win and somebody is going to have to lose. Eventually, there's going to be one less person that I have to worry about.

If you could line them up the way that you wanted, when would you fight for the title and whom would you fight?

Well, you know it depends on who has the title at the time. Any time somebody defends the title, it doesn't mean that they're going to win. Anything can happen.

I don't have anything in for any individual. My goal is to just be the heavyweight champion of the world again, so, the belts that are out there, they're the belts that I would like to have.

So, I'm sure that when it all comes down to it, when people think about the payday that you tend to get because you're a great champion, then that's what you look at.

When you look at the past history and the champions that were fighting at any particular time, their big pay days were $20 or $30 million. So you want to fight the people that you can make the big purses with.

So, you know, $3 million is a lot of money, but 20 or 30 million is a lot more. The big paydays, when I was the man, that was the kind of money that they would pay.

When you look at it that way, looking at the previous superstar heavyweights, that's what we made.

How much did you make when you fought Mike Tyson?

Well, when you talked about Mike Tyson and I coming together, in two fights with me, I know that he had to make close to $50 million. I made close to $50 million. Those were my biggest paydays.

In the second fight, I made $35 million in nine minutes. That was my biggest payday. The fight was stopped because he bit me. But those big paydays, that exemplified and showed you how popular he was and how popular I was.

We were able to generate that money because people would pay that much money to see us. The same thing with me fighting Lennox Lewis.

Me and Lennox was able to generate that much money that we were both able to make $15 million apiece. The same thing went with Riddick Bowe. In those three fights, we made more than $35 million.

This is when people want to see those people fight, they put up that kind of money, not just $2 million here and $3 million there and $1 million there.

I'm trying to get these guys out of this make-believe world that they're the superstars because they're winning all of these fights and making all of this money.

What's their future and their legacy going to be when it's all said and done and the game is over?

How many children do you have and what is the age range of them?

I have 11 children and the youngest is four, and the oldest is 27. There's six boys and five girls.

What is your response to fans who wonder if you're fighting because you need the money and not simply because you want to become a champion, once again?

First of all, it's not because I need the money. But if they're fans, then they should be talking about boxing. Most true fans talk about your boxing and they aren't worried about your personal life.

But you always got somebody out there who is not into boxing that is more concerned about your money and that needs to worry about their money. I have a job and I love my job.

My goal is to be undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. I didn't just come up with this goal in 2011 in 2010 or either 2000.

I've had this goal since 1992. And when I beat Mike Tyson, and they said that I've shocked the world, and that I was the best heavyweight out there, I said, 'No.'

My goal was to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. And when I fought Lennox Lewis in 1999, and they gave him the decision, and people thought that I should quit, I said, 'No.'

I wanted to get back in line because my goal was still the same. Of course, when I became the heavyweight champion of the world again in 2000 when I beat John Ruiz, and I lost it to him in 2001, that wasn't the end.

It was the point of getting back in line to win the title again to become undisputed champion. It was a case of, you know, things didn't go my way for that fight, and I just had to make some adjustments.

People have this thing where if you're still doing this at an older age, then you must need some money. But this is my job, and the most important thing is, 'Did I take care of my body?'

Of course, I take care of my body to be able to do this at the age of 48. They actually started calling me old when I turned 30 and I had lost to Riddick Bowe.

But this was 1992 and I was 30 years old, and I came back and beat Riddick Bowe. The other night, though, Bernard Hopkins just fought to a draw with Jean Pascal, but he outworked the younger guy.

Were you encouraged by the performance of Bernard Hopkins, who recently turned 46 years old?

I already had the validation that I need or I wouldn't be doing this. But I'm older than him. I mean, Bernard Hopkins is 46 and I'm 48. My thing is not based on what he did, but what I can do.

It's about what I can do and how well I've taken care of my body. As you could see, Bernard Hopkins has never been out of shape, and I've never really been out of shape.

So you're never going to run out of gas if you do the things that you usually do. I thought Bernard fought better in that fight than I've seen him fight a whole lot of fights.

If you didn't know he was 40-something years old before the fight, you would have never known it by watching him. In a straight up fight, I thought that Bernard edged the guy out and won the fight.

But, you know, they didn't give it to him. But, you know, I already know what I can do. George Foreman was heavier and fought better when he was older also.

You know, that's because when you're older, you've got more knowledge. You know, your body does change and you have to make some adjustments physically to fight the type of fights that you need to as an older man.

You're probably not going to run into somebody that has more knowledge than you at my age. They may recover faster, but that's it.

You lose something, but you gain something. The thing is can you make an effective plan and to use it effectively to help you to be able to win.

Does Mike Tyson deserve his recent induction into the Hall of Fame?

Of course, why wouldn't he? Of course he deserves it. After all that he has done for the game of boxing, you know? The Hall of Fame is not about a person's attitude.

It's about their ability to perform, and he did perform. He is the man who became the youngest heavyweight champion of the world at the age of 20.

When boxing was kind of at the time time where the sport was not doing well, Mike Tyson was the guy that brought more life back into it.

Mike Tyson started knocking all of these people out. And all of a sudden, with character and all of this, the networks caught on to it and played it all up and it was a benefit to the entire game of boxing.

Now, you know, you don't go to the Hall of Fame because of your attitude, but on the merits of what you did in the ring and in the sport.

How does a person all of a sudden find a way to say, 'This guy doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame because of his conduct and all of this?' It's about what he did for the sport in the ring, and he did it well.

Finally, is there anything that you think that you need to do over the course of your next two fights in order to escalate either the Klitschkos or David Haye into seriously considering you as an opponent?

I take one fight at a time. This fight with Sherman Williams should have been fought a while ago, but, obviously because it got postponed and delayed, we have the situation that we have now.

But still, I'm taking them one fight at a time. Fighting Sherman Williams, I'm just going to go in and fight my fight and I'll fight like always to win.

Whether or not the Klitschkos or David Haye chooses me to fight, you know, that's up to them. That's up to them, you know, and this ain't got nothing to do with trying to influence them into fighting.

It's nothing more than me getting in there and showing the people that still today, at the age of 48, that I can still win. That's it. If I win by knockout, that's great.

But it's not about me trying to get in there and trying to impress anyone.

Is there any reason for you to be concerned about the health risks in the sport as a result of your age?

I've passed all of the health tests and I've never had a problem with that, so, I fight. Young people get hurt too. Anybody can get hurt. Not just the older people.

You've got more young people getting head injuries because you've got more young people doing it. When I reach my goal, and I choose to stop, then I'll stop.

But the fact of the matter is that I'm a Christian, and I believe in Jesus. That is my protection. He's been my protection, and, so, you know what?

Because I believe in the word of God, this is the reason that I'm able to do what I'm able to do. And there ain't been nobody that's been able to do it better.

I don't assume that they're making that movie about me, because I don't get into the ring without a covering. It's not about, 'Are you covered?', or, 'Who is going to insure you?'

They say that they need Allstate. People have different kinds of insurance policies. I got the Lord Jesus Christ, and I've never been ashamed to tell other people.

I've told people about that before they even said that I was old. I came into the game with Jesus and when I leave the game I'll leave it with Jesus.

Anyway that it's gone down, he's always been my protection. That's always been my confindence and that's always been my mainstay.

That's always been why I've been able to handle whatever pressure has been there and why I've been able to be secure in myself.

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