It's been a long time coming for former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield to speak the words of retirement. Its official, the 51 year-old boxing legend is calling it quits. After what had been a long three years out of the ring without any matchups in site, Holyfield has decided to hang up his hat. He has officially retired from the sport of boxing.
It wasn't because he felt he was all washed up or too old to fight. With over three years of trying to find a formidable opponent, there was just no one out there who would fight him. He even explored bouts outside the U.S., mainly Europe, but he could never get the response he wanted. He waited and waited and waited, but nothing happened.
He was 48 years-old watching light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins (who's not much younger than him) beat up on younger fighters who were young enough to be his kids. Holyfield watched Hopkins make history on several occasions. That served as pure motivation for the older fighter. Even though he was not the same boxer he were in his prime, like Hopkins, Holyfield still felt he had what it took to make history and become world champion again.
His last fight was in 2011, against Danish boxer Brian Nielsen. Holyfield was victorious in that bout with a 10 round TKO stoppage. Holyfield thought after that win, his phone would start ringing off the wall with more opportunities to continue his mission of being heavyweight champion again, but the calls never came in.
Some of his most notable bouts were his battles against Lennox Lewis, Buster Douglas, Riddick Bowe, George Foreman and Mike Tyson. He fought the majority of these fighters twice. It was these marquee fighters that brought out the best in Holyfield and helped cement his legacy in the sport of boxing. His record was 44-10-2-1, 29 KO's.
Holyfield vs. Tyson II will always be the fight that linger in the minds of many, especially when bizarre fights is the topic of discussions among fights fans. It was that "ear biting" moment during their rematch that seems to still puzzle fight fans and pundits alike. Today, Holyfield's ear is still missing that piece that Tyson bit off back in June of '97. They both are now good friends.
Remember, Holyfield was the first cruiserweight to ever unify the WBA, WBC and IBF title belts all at the same time. He moved up to the heavyweight division in 1988. He barely gained enough weight to be considered a legitimate heavyweight contender. On many occasions his competition outweighed him by 30 to 40 lbs. He often went toe-to-toe with these big guys in the ring and dished out just as much punishment as he took.
When it came to an opponent, Holyfield never showed fear in his eyes before a big fight. He always gave it his all, regardless of the size disadvantage. He earned his name "The Real Deal" by the punishment he dished out and received during those brutal fights. It was not uncommon for him to go right into a phone booth slugout with a bigger opponent at any given moment. He was also known by many as "The Warrior" in the ring.
Throughout his boxing career, he has always been respected by his fans in and out of the ring. Holyfield will always be remembered as a special fighter in boxing who withstood the test time in a dangerous sport that could damage a person for life from the first punch of the opening bell. His die-hard fans are probably delighted and honored by this news of retirement and wishes their fighter the best.
In just a little over a month from now, in early August, Evander Holyfield will join some of his peers and colleagues to be inducted into the "Boxing Hall of Fame." Not many boxers have had the privilege of retiring in one month and less than two months later becoming an inductee.
Even though Holyfield has experienced his highs and lows over the years, he can easily say, he's sit at the very top in boxing and has enjoyed enormous success in a sport that many could only dream of; and to walk away a healthy man is more than anyone can ask. And—if nothing else, he will go down in history as one of the greats.