Holyfield, Evander


Holyfield, Evander
born Oct. 19, 1962, Atmore, Ala., U.S.

U.S. boxer.

Holyfield is the only boxer to win a version of the heavyweight championship four separate times (Muhammad Ali won the heavyweight championship three times). Holyfield's first title win was against James "Buster" Douglas in 1990 and he won the unified title at that time. He lost the title to Riddick Bowe in 1992, recaptured it in 1993, and lost it to Michael Moorer in 1994. When he fought Mike Tyson in 1996, he regained only the WBA (World Boxing Association) portion of the title. In 1997 he won the IBF (International Boxing Federation) heavyweight title from Moorer. In Holyfield's title defense against Tyson in 1997, Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield's ear. Holyfield lost the IBF and WBA titles to the WBC (World Boxing Council) heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis in 1999, but Lewis later was stripped of the WBA portion of his title, and when Holyfield beat John Ruiz in the subsequent WBA title bout in 2000, he became the first man to win a championship in the heavyweight division for the fourth time.

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▪ 1998

      In one of the strangest boxing matches in history, Evander Holyfield successfully defended his World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight title against Mike Tyson on June 28, 1997, in Las Vegas, Nev. Holyfield was in clear control of the bout when Tyson, while in a clinch with Holyfield in the third round, suddenly bit a chunk out of the champion's right ear. The referee gave Tyson a warning, but when the fight resumed after a doctor indicated that Holyfield could continue, Tyson unaccountably bit the champion on the left ear and was disqualified. A riot nearly erupted when members of both corners, photographers, and police officers rushed into the ring. Tyson's bizarre behaviour—and the gruesome scene it engendered—created a furor that overshadowed Holyfield's second victory over a fighter once thought to be invincible. Holyfield cemented his position as boxing's best heavyweight later in the year when he defeated International Boxing Federation (IBF) titleholder Michael Moorer by technical knockout on November 8.

      Holyfield was born on Oct. 19, 1962, in Atmore, Ala. He began boxing competitively at the age of eight and eventually compiled an amateur record of 160-14. At the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, he fought as a light heavyweight and was awarded the bronze medal after being disqualified on a controversial call in the semifinal bout. He soon turned professional, and in July 1986 he won the junior heavyweight title by upsetting WBA champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi in a grueling 15-round battle.

      In April 1988, with an eighth-round knockout of Carlos DeLeon, Holyfield became boxing's first undisputed cruiserweight champion. He became a heavyweight later that year. At 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in) and 97.5 kg (215 lb), Holyfield was smaller than most of his opponents, but his quickness and his ability to take a punch helped to make up for his lack of size. A devout Christian, he credited his faith for also giving him extraordinary willpower and courage. On Oct. 25, 1990, Holyfield scored a third-round knockout of James ("Buster") Douglas to win the undisputed heavyweight title of the WBA, the IBF, and the World Boxing Council.

      Holyfield held the title until November 1992, when he dropped a 12-round decision to Riddick Bowe. In a rematch with Bowe one year later, he recaptured the WBA and IBF titles in another decision. After losing the championship belts once again when Moorer earned a decision against him in April 1994, Holyfield was diagnosed with a heart defect and announced his retirement. Though the diagnosis was later reversed and Holyfield returned to the ring, his career was thought to be on the ropes after he turned in a string of lacklustre performances. On Nov. 9, 1996, Holyfield had his first clash with Tyson in a much-anticipated WBA title bout. Despite being a 25-1 underdog, Holyfield shocked the boxing world when he scored a technical knockout of Tyson in the 11th round. The victory made Holyfield the only fighter besides Muhammad Ali to have won the heavyweight championship three separate times.

ANTHONY G. CRAINE

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▪ American athlete
byname  the Real Deal 
born October 19, 1962, Atmore, Alabama, U.S.
 
 American boxer, the only professional fighter to win the heavyweight championship four separate times and thereby surpass the record of Muhammad Ali, who won it three times.

      As an amateur boxer, Holyfield compiled a record of 160–14 and won the National Golden Gloves Championship in 1984. Competing as a light heavyweight at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, he was disqualified in the semifinal bout for knocking out his opponent, Kevin Barry of New Zealand, while the referee was attempting to separate the fighters. Amid controversy, the International Olympic Committee subsequently awarded Holyfield the bronze medal.

      In November 1984 Holyfield turned professional, and in 1986 he won the junior heavyweight title by upsetting World Boxing Association (WBA) champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi in a 15-round split decision. In April 1988, with an eighth-round knockout of Carlos DeLeon, Holyfield became boxing's first undisputed cruiserweight champion. Three months later he fought his first heavyweight bout, knocking out James Tillis in five rounds.

      Standing 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 metres) tall and weighing 218 pounds (98.9 kg), Holyfield often faced much larger opponents as a heavyweight, but his diligent training habits and exceptional durability in the ring helped to make up for his lack of size. On October 25, 1990, he scored a third-round knockout of James (“Buster”) Douglas to win the undisputed heavyweight title of the WBA, the World Boxing Council (WBC), and the International Boxing Federation (IBF). After successful defenses against former champions George Foreman (Foreman, George) and Larry Holmes (Holmes, Larry), Holyfield lost the title on November 13, 1992, dropping a 12-round decision to Riddick Bowe. In a rematch with Bowe one year later, he recaptured the WBA and IBF titles in another decision.

      On April 22, 1994, in a World Boxing Organization match and Holyfield's first defense after regaining the titles, he lost a 12-round decision to Michael Moorer. After the bout, he was diagnosed with a heart defect and announced his retirement. The diagnosis was later reversed, however, and Holyfield resumed boxing, winning a 10-round decision over Ray Mercer on May 20, 1995. In his third fight with Bowe, on November 4, 1995, Holyfield scored a knockdown in the sixth round but lost by a knockout in the eighth.

      After defeating Bobby Czyz in his next match, Holyfield met heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (Tyson, Mike) in a much-anticipated WBA bout on November 9, 1996. Though Tyson was heavily favoured to win, Holyfield scored a stunning upset with a technical knockout in the 11th round, becoming the heavyweight champion for a third time. He successfully defended his title on June 28, 1997, in a rematch against Tyson, who was disqualified after the third round for biting Holyfield's ears.

      Holyfield regained the IBF title by knocking out Moorer in the eighth round of their November 8, 1997, rematch. In his next important title defense, he faced the British fighter and WBC champion Lennox Lewis. On March 13, 1999, the judges determined the bout a draw, though nearly all observers felt the match belonged to Lewis. Still, Holyfield retained his WBA and IBF titles until the rematch on November 13, 1999, when Holyfield lost a 12-round decision to Lewis, which enabled Lewis to claim the WBA and IBF belts and thereby unify the heavyweight title. Lewis was stripped of the WBA title on April 12, 2000, because of a mandatory defense controversy. On August 12, 2000, Holyfield defeated John Ruiz to win the vacant WBA heavyweight title but lost to Ruiz in a rematch in 2001. In December of that year Holyfield and Ruiz met again; the bout ended as a draw, allowing Ruiz to keep the title.

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Universalium. 2010.

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