Holyfield’s Lonely Quest

By Tom Donelson
Updated: March 19, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. — While much of the world attention this past weekend was settled upon the Barrera-Marquez match ups, Evander Holyfield was beating up on Vinnie Maddalone.

Far from the maddening crowd, Holyfield has continued his career against mostly second rate talent. Since being blown out by Larry Donald, Holyfield has quietly won three fights in the row.

His first fight on this comeback began with knocking out part time fighter and full time insurance agent Jeremy Bates and then he won the USBA Heavyweight championship when he defeated former Fres Oquendo by decision.

This fight was at least against a named fighter, even though Oquendo was beginning his own comeback and no longer a top ten heavyweight fighter.

Maddalone was one of those second tier fighters who popularity is based on an aggressive style that produced exciting fights. Maddalone greatest claim to fame was his two exciting drag out losses against Brian Minto on ESPN.

Maddalone’s fame is strictly based on two spectacular losses, but losses that certainly were crowd pleasing. For Maddalone, this was his big shot to have one big name on his resume before leaving the boxing scene.

Even if Holyfield has long since seen his best days, Maddalone knew that beating Holyfield would still be a measure of pride. In beating Holyfield, Maddalone would be beating one of boxing’s great heavyweights.

Alas, the difference in talent was obvious. No matter how hard Maddalone tried, he was not match for a hall of fame boxer, even one that is close to 45 years old.

This is in many ways a tale of two fighters. For Maddalone, this was his big shot and while he lost, he can at least tell his children and grand children, “Hey I fought the great Evander Holyfield.”

For Maddalone, there was never much of a chance of fighting for a title. He did not have the skill to compete with the elite fighters in the heavyweight division.

He will leave boxing with a respectable record and some exciting bouts to hang his head on. He fought every fight hard and gave those fans who followed his career something worth cheering about.

As for Holyfield, the dream of a heavyweight title still remains but it is only a dream. Holyfield has long since been past his prime and this was obvious in his first fight with Lennox Lewis, when Holyfield aged before our eyes.

Lewis easily handled the Real Deal and since that fight, he entered the down phrase of his career where losses and disappointments outnumbered highlights.

Fighters like James Toney, Chris Byrd, John Ruiz and Larry Donald defeated him and most of these fights were not even close. Holyfield would have beaten these fighters in his prime but he was mere putty in their hands past his prime.

And fighters don’t become better as they get older, they just keep getting older. There is no real future for Holyfield. There are just fights far from the main events and big stages that he used to occupy.

There was a time that Holyfield was one of boxing’s giants but today, he is just another pug dreaming of championships that will never come again.

There are significant differences between Vincent Maddalone and Evander Holyfield. One fighter was a regional star but never an elite fighter whereas the other fighter was one of boxing greatest. There is one area where both today are similar.

Both fighters are now mere second tier fighters but the difference is that Maddalone understands his limitation whereas Holyfield still does not see that his best days have already occurred. Neither men will be champion anytime soon.

Holyfield’s glory days ended the day that James Toney stopped him but he continues upon a holy quest that can never be fulfilled. There is nothing really uplifting seeing Holyfield fight Maddalone.

It is reminder of what happens to a fighter who can’t truly see the truth-his days as fighter are over. Holyfield, like Maddalone, has the scars of every punch that has landed but not the memory.

The quest for the holy grail continues.