Holyfield Must Retire After Loss To Donald

By Francis Walker
Updated: November 15, 2004

NEW YORK — Evander Holyfield’s quest to retire as the undisputed world heavyweight championship began more than eight years ago. Holyfield has defied the odds defeating Mike Tyson twice, battling Lennox Lewis for 24 rounds, and capturing a piece of

the heavyweight championship twice. But at age 42, Holyfield’s gas tank appear to be empty as he has suffered another setback.

Holyfield (38-8-2, 25 KOs), the only fighter to win the heavyweight championship four times since Muhammad Ali, dropped a 12-round unanimous decision to Larry Donald (42-3-2, 24 KOs) the Don King promoted, “Battle of Supremacy” fight card at Madison Square Garden.

Holyfield, known throughout the boxing world as a true ”Warrior,” was only a shell of his old self. The Holyfield that lost to Donald, was not the same Holyfield that won both the undisputed world heavyweight and cruiserweight championships during a remarkable Hall-of Fame career.

The Holyfield who lost to Donald was a fighter, who from the opening bell did not throw punches. Holyfield allowed Donald to pick him apart with left jabs and off-balanced combinations. Holyfield just stood in front of Donald in the middle of the ring and against the ropes and offered little to even make the bout a contest.

He has the glory and all the money that comes with having a successful boxing career, but since losing the WBA/IBF heavyweight titles to WBC champion Lennox Lewis five years ago (Nov. 1999), Holyfield has only two victories, four losses, and one draw in his last seven fights (2-4-1). Two of those losses to John Ruiz and Chris Byrd were bids to regain the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles.

Holyfield has not won a fight in 29 months.

“I have never given up on anything,” Holyfield said afterward. “If I have a change of heart, I could change my mind. But I will have to pray on it.”

Not even the chants of “Holyfield, Holyfield,” throughout the arena was enough to lift Hoyfield’s competitive spirit, as Donald simply dominated the faded champion.

“No doubt I won the fight,” Donald said. “I won every round. I did what I had to do ton win.”

Donald threw nearly 400 more punches than Holyfield (643-264), out-jabbed Holyfield by nearly two 200 (310-124) and tripled Holyfield’s connect rate (260-78). Holyfield’s 78 punches connected in a fight was his lowest in 24 fights, or 14 years when he knocked out James “Buster” Douglas to capture the undisputed world heavyweight championship in Oct. 1990.

“He’s a seasoned veteran,” Donald said of Holyfield. “He can hurt you. He’s sneaky with his punches.”

The judges scorecards had Donald victorious by land-slide margins of 119-109 (twice) and 118-109.

Despite such a lackluster showing, the Garden crowd greeted Holyfield with a loud cheer because he has given boxing fans plenty of cheer about and much more for many years.

The loss was significant, especially on a fight card in which two of boxing’s three most recognizable heavyweight champions Chris Byrd (IBF) and John Ruiz (WBA) defended their titles. A Holyfield victory would have opened the possibility of a fourth fight with Ruiz or even a shot at Andrew Golota if he were to defeat Ruiz.

Those opportunities how belong to Donald, who was virtually shutout of the heavyweight title picture for many years.

Donald is best known for being assaulted by former heavyweight champion, Riddick Bowe at a pre-fight press conference in 1992. When Donald did fight Bowe in the ring, he danced/jogged his way around to a unanimous 12-round decision loss. Donald was shutout on all three judges scorecards 120-108.

In July 2002, he had an opportunity to become the WBA No. 1-ranked challenger, but lost to Kirk Johnson, who ended up losing to Ruiz, via disqualification for the WBA title the following year.

A victory against Holyfield was indeed the biggest of his career and it came at such an important time for a man whose been around for a longtime but hardly afloat in a deep pool of heavyweight title hopefuls.