Bring on the Giant Valuev. Or Shannon Briggs. Evander Holyfield, 44-years-old and showing credible hand and foot speed, is ready to get another crack at a heavyweight title.
Maybe he's not ready for Wladimir Klitschko, with his pole-vault-length arms. And I wouldn't like to see Sam Peter impose his age advantage on the oldster, but the way Holyfield (41-8-2) looked against Vinny Maddalone (27-4) on Saturday night in Corpus Christi , Texas, you have to give the old man a chance against the laggards among the titlists.
Maddalone, the gutsy but limited fighter from Queens, New York ate copious Holyfield hooks and jabs from the opening bell.
The end came in the third round, as Maddalone's trainer, 79-year-old Al Certo stood on the ring apron and called for a halt to the deteriorating proceedings. Certo took a stand with just 17 seconds to go in the third, and while there were some scattered boos in the stands, the trainer showed compassion to his man, and saved him from a hard-way KO.
In the first, Holyfield opened a cut over Vinny's right eye with a hook, and later in the same round, a clash of heads opened up a deep slice in the middle of Maddalone's forehead. The ringside doctor appraised the slice as Maddalone impatiently railed against the timeout. Holyfield looked light on his feet in the first and he slowed down a bit in the second. His handspeed was light years better than he showed back in 2004, when it looked like he was ready for a gold watch and a countdown to to Canastota. In the third, Holyfield was popping the jab, and Maddalone began to back up more. When he swung, it was for the fences, and Holyfield made him whiff badly. He had Maddalone caught on the ropes at after tagging him with an overhand right to the temple and following that smartly with a right hand uppercut. The combo buzzed Maddalone slightly, and Holyfield continued the momentum with solid left hook that the crowd appreciated mightily. Holyfield sensed a potential closing opportunity and worked Maddalone over on the ropes, as the New Yorker stayed on his feet only thru sheer force of will and pride. The referee peered closely at Maddalone and let it go on, but Certo saw all that he needed to, and said no mas. Maddalone protested heartily, but soon enough chilled down, and he and Holyfield then embraced warmly.
To be sure, Maddalone will add to the 250 or so stitch count he's accrued since turning pro in 1999. Holyfield, meanwhile, will wait for promoter Main Events to let Valuev and Shannon Briggs get slated bouts out of the way before they pinpoint a title shot for Holyfield. The resurgent boxer did not, apparently, let leaked steroid usage allegations get in the way of his mental preparation. Calvin Brock (30-1) took out Ralph West (17-10) in his first fight since Wladimir Klitschko stopped him at Madison Square Garden in November. Brock didn't look all that taut in the midsection, but that didn't matter against the limited West. Brock took him out at 2:49 of the opening round, with a pinpoint right hand to the noggin.