Several Heavyweights Comeback For More

By Francis Walker
Updated: February 26, 2007

NEW YORK — There is an old saying in boxing. Fighters that retire never really hang up their gloves. Very few fighters, especially if they’ve had successful careers, can escape the allure of the adrenaline rush, the roar of the crowd, and the money that the fight game brings.

Former heavyweight champions Evander Holyfield (40-8-2, 26 KOs), Michael Moorer (48-4-1, 38 KOs), Oliver McCall (50-8, 36 KOs), and former title challenger David Tua (47-3-1, 40 KOs ) have launched successful comebacks the last couple years for different reasons.

Holyfield has an unrealistic goal of retiring as the undisputed world heavyweight champion. At age 44, Holyfield is still one of the biggest names in the heavyweight division.

On March 17, at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi , TX , Holyfield is scheduled to face Vinny Maddalone. For Maddalone, fighting Holyfield is like fighting for the world heavyweight championship.

A victory against Holyfield will perhaps put Maddalone on the map as a serious heavyweight title contender.

Holyfield has had a legendary career which includes two victories against Mike Tyson, an epic trilogy with Riddick Bowe, and two heavyweight title fights with Lewis. Holyfield also fought George Foreman.

Holyfield is the first and only boxer to unify the WBC/WBA and IBF titles in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions.

Questions around Holyfield’s health have been in issue since he lost the heavyweight ttiles to Michael Moorer in 1993. Holyfield was medically suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission following his lackluster 12-round decision loss to Larry Donald in 2004.

Holyfield was given a boxing license in the state of Texas last year. Holyfield resumed his career and looked terrific stopping journeyman Jeremy Bates in the second round.

In his second outing, Holyfield defeated former world title challenger Fres Oquendo, via 12-round decision. Maddalone will be Holyfield’s third opponent in eight months.

David Tua returned to the Roseland Ballroom in New York City on Thursday, February 22, to win a 10-round unanimous decision against Robert Hawkins. It was Tua’s fifth consecutive victory since his comeback.

All three judges at ringside scored the bout in Tua’s favor 99-91, and 96-94 (twice). Tua needs more work if he is to return to his old form of several years ago.

Tua only had one world title shot. In November of 2000, Tua was out-boxed miserably by world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. Tua, at 5-foot-10, couldn’t get past the 6-foot-5 Lewis’ left jabs and right hands.

Former heavyweight champion Michael Moorer is searching for one final world title shot at age 39. Moorer became the first southpaw heavyweight champion when he won a 12-round majority decision against Holyfield for the WBA/IBF titles in April of 1994.

Moorer lost the championships in his first defense seven months after beating Holyfield. Moorer was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards 88-83 (twice) and 86-85 before George Foreman knocked him out in the tenth round of one of the biggest upsets in boxing history.

Foreman, at age 45, became the oldest fighter to win a heavyweight title.

Moorer regained the IBF heavyweight title in 1996, but lost it to Holyfield in a dramatic rematch in November of 1997. Moorer was inactive until 2000 before launching a successful comeback. Since the loss to Holyfield, Moorer is 9-2-1, 7 KOs .

Moorer’s two losses were a devastating first-round KO loss to Tua in August of 2002. Moorer also dropped a 10-round decision to Eliseo Castillo in 2004. In 2006, Moorer knocked out hard-hitting journeyman, Cliff Couser in the first round.

Moorer is scheduled to face Crawford Grimsley on March 16. Grimsley is best recognized for his 1996 12-round loss to Foreman in Tokyo , Japan and a 13-second KO loss to James Thunder in 1997.

Oliver McCall, the man who upset Lennox Lewis for the WBC heavyweight title in September of 1994, is on a current 10-fight unbeaten streak. The 41-year-old McCall recently won an 8-round unanimous decision in a rematch against Marion Wilson. Wilson, a veteran of 57 fights, has never been knocked out in his career.

As a heavyweight champion, McCall nearly lost it to the legendary Larry Holmes before finally coughing it up to Frank Bruno in September of 1995.

McCall had an opportunity to recapture the vacant WBC title in a 1997 rematch against Lewis, but McCall suffered a nervous breakdown in the middle of the fight and lost, via fifth-round TKO.

Since the loss to Lewis, McCall is 22-1-2, 14 KOs in the last 10 years. McCall is 9-0-1, 5 KOs in his last 10 fights. McCall’s only loss was a 10-round decision to DaVarryl Williamson in November of 2004.

Williamson eventually earned a title shot against Chris Byrd for the IBF heavyweight title the following year and lost miserably.

Whether or not Holyfield, Tua, Moorer, or McCall receive title shots remain to be seen. Only McCall is ranked in the top 5 of the WBC rankings. Holyfield is the only fighter ranked in the WBC (11th), WBO (13th), and WBA (15th).

Tua and Moorer are not ranked amongst the top 15 in the four leading sanctioning bodies.

Sure these fighters are older. Perhaps their best days are behind them, but each fighter has had a certain level of success especially Holyfield. He’s a future International Boxing Hall of Fame boxer who has been successful on the highest level in the heavyweight division.

It will be interesting to see which of these fighters will receive another world title shot.