Holyfield/Oquendo: Which Lion Has Teeth?

BY Rick Folstad ON September 12, 2006
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You don’t know whether to roll your eyes or nod your head, whether to laugh out loud or point a finger and remind everyone of who this is.

As he quickly closes in on 44, Evander Holyfield is claiming this is his time, his last run at winning the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.

Again.

And that’s kind of scary in the same way watching a blind man juggle knives would be scary. You don’t want to see him slice a finger off, but you figure he was asking for it when he picked up the knives.

That’s Holyfield, a guy who refuses to ride quietly into the sunset. He’s like Bob Dylan. He just won’t go away.

“I am ready and I truly believe it’s my season,” Holyfield (39-8-2, 26 KOs) said at a recent press conference in New York City, where they announced his Nov. 10 fight against Fres Oquendo (26-3, 16 KOs) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

The Alamodome? Good place for a Holyfield fight. The Alamo is about brave men fighting against unbelievable odds. And that’s what Holyfield is facing, an army of contenders and heavyweight champs 20 years younger and 20 years quicker. What are his chances of beating the odds and regaining the undisputed title? Let’s just say they get slimmer every day.

Still, at 43 – he turns 44 in October – Holyfield is walking in the footsteps of George Foreman, threatening to win a world title at 45.

These are hard times for the heavyweight division.

“The most important thing to me in life is for me to give my all,” said Holyfield, whose “all” has dwindled considerably in the last eight years. “We all have our time, and on Nov. 10, we’ll see whose time it is.”

Holyfield doesn‘t have a lot of time left. Some of us think he’s already used it all up. He’s lost three of his last four fights. Not good numbers for a future hall-of-famer.

Even if he beats Oquendo, he’s got three (or four) heavyweight champs standing in the way of his “undisputed” dream. Getting those guys together to fight each other or to fight Holyfield will take years.

Holyfield looked good in his last fight, a second-round TKO over Jeremy Bates. But Bates sells insurance in his day job. Not a great barometer. Besides, a guy named Jason Waller also looked pretty good in beating Bates, and Waller isn’t going to be fighting for the heavyweight title any time soon.

In stopping Bates, Holyfield proved he’s still good enough to beat a guy who is one step above a tomato can.

But that isn’t enough to win the heavyweight championship.

Holyfield thinks he can still do it because he claims injuries were keeping him down over the last few years of his career, not age.

Who knows? Maybe age had something to do with the injuries.

As for Oquendo, this fight would seem a little dangerous. If he beats Holyfield, so what? He beat an old codger on his way out, a former great who lost to Larry Donald, James Toney and Chris Byrd in his three fights leading up to Bates.

If he gets beaten by Holyfield, it’s not going to look too good to the guys doing the rankings.

“Holyfield is a great warrior. You can never count him out,” Oquendo was quoted as saying. “I’m training as if this was for the heavyweight championship of the world. This is a dream. I’m the uncrowned champ. I’m the young lion.”

Careful. The old lion still has some teeth left.

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