Real Deal and Fast Fres meet the press over London broil

Thursday afternoon in the upstairs room at Gallagher’s Steak House in midtown Manhattan, Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield and “Fast” Fres Oquendo met the press to formally announce their Nov. 10 fight at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The fight is called Holyfield V: The Final Chapter Continued and will be promoted by M&M Sports and Real Deal Events. The Final Chapter will be available on pay-per-view for $44.95 on Fox Sports Net.

This is Holyfield’s second fight after having his license revoked by the New York State Athletic Commission after his abysmal performance against Larry Donald in the Garden in 2004. Holy wandered the desert for almost two years a veritable exodus for the man who stopped Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Larry Holmes, Michael Moorer and George Foreman before finding himself back in action on August 18 in Dallas, Texas, where he KO’d a part-time fighter/insurance agent named Jeremy Bates.

Now, the Real Deal (39-8-2, 26 KOs) is upping the ante by fighting a name fighter in Fres Oquendo (26-3, 16 KOs), whose big wins were five long years ago, in 2001 over Clifford Etienne, David Izon and Obed Sullvan. Oquendo’s big losses came when he tried to step up. He lost to David Tua in 2002, Chris Byrd in 2003, and John Ruiz in 2004, whereupon Fres quit boxing.

Oquendo returned to active duty this year with two decision wins, one over David Bispo at the Grand Ballroom in New York City, and one over Javier Mora at the Pechanga Resorts & Casino in Temecula, Calif. But neither Bispo nor Mora seems the best preparation for Evander Holyfield.

At the press conference emceed by Murad Muhammad, the promoter said it’s the will of God that Holy is back, because Evander’s an inspirational figure, like someone from American Idol.

I love these types of events, because we’re all human beings here, said Muhammad, alluding to God knows what that wasn’t zoological. Then Muhammad introduced Oquendo by saying he’s a boxer, he’s a puncher, he can do it all. He wants to prove that he’s not only the Latino heavyweight champion, he wants to be the world champion.

The low-key Oquendo described the upcoming fight with Holy as an opportunity of a lifetime, before he began to reminisce about the first time he heard Evander’s name. When I was in grammar school, he said, talking like Holyfield was Methuselah or something, and not a 43-year-old comebacking heavyweight who isn’t mincing or slurring his words. Oquendo closed by saying Holyfield is a legend, but that he is the young lion, and now is my time.

Murad Muhammad took the dais again and did his best imitation of Don King. It was his age, Muhammad said about Holy’s losses to Donald, Byrd and James Toney. He was hurt. And he tells his children you don’t ever quit or cry. This is our hope. Not a white hope. Not a black hope. This is America hope. So Holyfield decided to climb the mountain. He has the ability bona fide, qualified to bring back the belts to America.

Flags weren’t fluttering and no hair stood on end, but there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Holyfield rose and moved to the dais. He leaned toward the mike and told the assembled throng that he was honored and ready to fight on Nov. 10, but that Oquendo should know that it is my season, and after 22 years as a professional, that’s a lot of seasons.

It’s never been easy, continued Holyfield, never planned on it being easy, because my mother told me if it was easy everybody would be champion. On November 10th, we’ll see whose time it is but it’s not my time, it’s my season.

I don’t ever plan on losing, Holyfield reminded the few lost souls in the room who had any doubts. There are times when I didn’t get the decision, but I never lost.

I wanted things before I was ready for them, but I always got what I was ready for.

It’s hard to know what to make of the elliptical Evander Holyfield, but I’d swear that’s not just the result of too many blows to the head talking; there’s some real wisdom there. But if Evander has wisdom enough to speak in quasi Zen-like parables after 40-plus fights, why doesn’t he have wisdom enough to quit boxing while he can quit boxing?

Chapter 5 is the last chapter, concluded the Real Deal, and there are a lot of pages in the book. November 10th is the second page, and there will be another page as well because I’m going to be heavyweight champion of the world.

Is Evander Holyfield delusional, or does he have what it takes, health permitting, to win another major title?

(To see pix of the Holyfield/Oquendo presser, check out the TSS Photo Gallery)