Evander Holyfield has been nominated for Sports Illustrated 2007 Sportsman of the Year by Richard Hoffer.
This nomination is not offered in good faith. It’s a sarcastic commentary on Holyfield’s “horrible prospect” of having his brain turned to jelly. Holyfield, Hoffer says, is diminished, declining, demonstrating “crazy determination,” and his resolve is also crazy. He is self-destructive, his determination is “just this shy (so far) of a death wish,” and Holyfield is “not quite defenseless in the ring.”
Now, I’m willing to admit that I can’t always believe my eyes. I’m a boxing fan, not a boxing expert. But I saw that fight against Sultan Ibragimov last month, and I can’t agree with Hoffer’s assertions. Although Holy’s performance wasn’t equal to his 1993 standards, it was very respectable. As I wrote after Ibragimov’s win, “I had the fight 7 rounds for Ibragimov, 4 for Holyfield, and 1 (the first) even. Holy obviously wasn’t comfortable, and he wouldn’t commit to combinations. He says it’s because Ibragimov was awkward. I did see Holy hit him with about half a dozen rights that would knock out most guys, but there’s the other problem with Ibragimov, he has a very good chin. Curiously, Holy never connected with a good left hook…The fight wasn’t very exciting, although both fighters had some moments. Holyfield landed harder shots but Ibragimov was fast and jabbed well, landed enough power punches to be credible, and was quicker on his feet. Holyfield threw almost no combinations, and as Freddie Roach pointed out, he kept moving to Ibragimov’s left, which means he was walking into a left handers lead hand. It was a poor strategy, and Holyfield admitted as much.”
I hear people saying that Holyfield should retire, and here’s what I think. If Big George Foreman could win a championship at 45 years old, how much more so with Holyfield. He keeps himself in amazing condition, he’s winning more than he’s losing (4-1 in his last five bouts) and he’s an intelligent and experienced fighter. I trust him to make the right decision.