Holyfield Batters Savarese, Enters World Title Picture

By Francis Walker
Updated: July 1, 2007

NEW YORK — Who would have ever imagined that ten years, two days after Evander Holyfield had his ear bit off by a raging Mike Tyson that he would be continuing his chase for a world heavyweight title in his 40’s?

Holyfield improved to 4-0 on the very week that he was literally eaten alive by Tyson. The 44 year-old Holyfield (42-8-2, 27 KOs) looked terrific during his dominant and very exciting 10-round unanimous decision win against 41 year-old Lou Savarese (46-7, 38 KOs) at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.

On June 28, 1997, in Las Vegas, seven months after Holyfield pulled off one of the biggest upsets in boxing history with an 11th round TKO of Tyson to win the WBA heavyweight title, he was on the verge of earning a repeat knockout of Tyson.

An enraged Tyson then chewed off a piece of Holyfield’s right ear. Tyson’s appetite wasn’t satisfied, as his jaws clamped down of Holyfield’s left ear that prompted an in-ring riot, a third-round disqualification, and a one-year Tyson ban from boxing.

Tyson, now 41, is retired and broke. Meanwhile, Holyfield, amazingly is in pursuit of fighting for a world heavyweight championship. The Holy-Field of a Championship Dream is becoming reality.

Holyfield has proven during his recent comeback that he continues to sell tickets, generate the interest and imagination of fight fans, and continues to garner the respect and admiration of the media. But perhaps more importantly, he can still fight.

Although many believe that Holyfield has nothing to prove and should retire, his miraculous comeback added tremendous steam. There is increased curiosity as to how far Holyfield can go.

The combined record of Holyfield’s opposition before defeating the likes of former heavyweight title challenger Fres Oquendo (W 12), Vinny Maddalone (TKO 3), Journeyman Jeremy Bates (TKO 2), and Savarese, now 3-1 during his recent comeback, was a combined 113-23-1.

That’s not bad considering Hoyfield’s boxing license was suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission following a lackluster 12-round decision loss to Larry Donald at Madison Square Garden in November 2004.

Holyfield was re-issued a boxing license in the State of Texas last spring after passing a number of physical examinations. All four fights have occurred in Texas which has proven a good karma location for the man known as “The Real Deal.” He’s also enjoying his longest victory streak in more than a decade since defeating Tyson (twice) and Michael Moorer in championship fights.

Considering Holyfield’s level of success and storied career, it’s difficult to imagine him not being licensed to fight in Nevada, California, New Jersey, New York, or Connecticut. His rankings to date are No. 9 by the WBC, No. 12 by the IBF, No. 13 by the WBA, and No. 13 by the WBO.

Savarese, a loser in every big fight he’s ever had against Tyson (KO by 1), Foreman (L 12), Kirk Johnson (TKO by 4), Michael Grant (L 10), and David Izon (KO by 5), was very durable, but simply outclassed. Savarese suffered knockdowns in both the third and ninth rounds. Savarese in serious trouble several times in the fight, but went the distance.

All three official judges at ringside scored the bout for Holyfield: 99-87, 98-90, and 96-91.

Holyfield’s Legend Continues

At 6-feet-2 and 215 pounds, Holyfield was considered too small to be a heavyweight champion until he pounded James “Buster” Douglas inside three rounds to become the undisputed world heavyweight champion.

Holyfield is also the only fighter in boxing history to win the WBC, WBA, and IBF championships as a cruiserweight and heavyweight. He’s also the first boxer to win a world heavyweight championship four times when he won a 12-round split decision over John Ruiz in August 2000.

Holyfield has fought the best fighters of the last 20 years: George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Lennox Lewis, Ray Mercer, James Toney, Riddick Bowe, Michael Moorer, Carlos DeLeon, and Dwight Muhammad Qawi to name a few.

Chasing A Heavyweight Championship

Holyfield’s quest of earning a world heavyweight title fight will not be easy, although he’s just about ready to fight any of the other champions. The heavyweight championship landscape appears to be busy overflowing with contenders ahead of Holyfield.

Sultan Ibragimov and Ruslan Chagaev will unify the WBO/WBA heavyweight title belts on October 13. Ibragimov won the WBO title on June 2, following a 12-round decision against Shannon Briggs.

In March, Chagaev ended 7-feet-3, 325-pound Nikolai Valuev’s dream of catching the late Rocky Marciano’s unbeaten mark of 49-0. Chagaev cleverly out-boxed Valuev through twelve rounds to win the WBA title.

Sam Peter’s highly anticipated, long-overdue title shot against WBC champion Oleg Maskaev will occur either on September 29 or October 6. The winner will face WBC “champion emeritus” Vitali Klitschko. Already the WBC has another mandatory in Oliver McCall lined up.

McCall, on June 23, in Ankara , Turkey , won a 12-round decision over Sinan Samil Sam in a WBC heavyweight title eliminator. McCall has stated that he would give Sam a rematch.

On July 7, Tony Thompson of Washington, D.C , will travel to Hamburg , Germany to face Luan Krasniqi on his home turf. The winner will be the WBO No. 1-ranked contender and will have the right to challenge the winner of the Chagaev-Ibragimov unification fight.

Also on July 7, in Cologne Germany , IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko attempts to avenge one of his three defeats as a professional fighter. Wladimir, the younger brother of Vitali, makes his third title defense against former WBO heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster.

In April 2004, Brewster survived a brutal beating to stop Wladimir in the fifth round. Brewster, who lost the WBO title to Sergui Liakhovich in March 2006 hasn’t fought since learning that he had suffered from a detached retina in his left eye.

In the last year, Klitschko has knocked out Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, and recently Ray Austin. After Brewster, Klitschko hopes to fight once more in 2007 against an opponent to be determined.

Holyfield should be available.