Evander Holyfield will step into a boxing ring again Saturday for a shot at the world heavyweight championship.
I wish I could tell you I cut and pasted the above sentence from a story written a decade ago but I can't.
The sad truth is that the 46-year-old Holyfield, who hasn't fought in over a year and hasn't been considered a legitimate contender for anything in about eight years, will face WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev, a freakish fighter who at 7-feet and 325 pounds is nearly a foot taller than Holyfield and 100 pounds bigger, not to mention 11 years younger.
If that tale of the tape sounds more like a freak show than a boxing match, it's because it is.
Last week Joe Calzaghe was roundly criticized by many in boxing for saying he thought the sport was dying, well boxing will officially die, in my eyes anyway, on Saturday night in Zurich's Hallenstadion. I won't witness the slow and painful death of the once beautiful sport. DirecTV thankfully won't be offering the pay-per-view mismatch. Besides after watching Oscar De La Hoya's depressing last fight I couldn't stomach the sight of another once proud champion being relegated to nothing more than a punching bag, let alone dig into my pocket to pay for something so sickening.
Unfortunately, I'm probably in the minority. That's probably why this fight was allowed to take place. There are enough people willing to buy tickets and purchase pay-per-views to make this fight worthwhile to promoters who have no problem putting any fighter into a ring as long as they can make money at the end of the night.
Few fighters ever retire gracefully from boxing. Most of them are beaten into it; unwilling to stay down, believing the next round, the next punch, the next fight will be their comeback and Holyfield is no different. He says he plans to win on Saturday and go on to unify the world heavyweight title, which should tell you something about his mental condition at the moment. He says he's not fighting for the money, which I wish was true considering he's making $600,000, the lowest amount he has ever received for a championship fight, but the sad truth is that's the only reason he's fighting.
It's the only reason Holyfield, who hasn't fought in Las Vegas in over five years, has allowed himself to fight nobodies for worthless title shots in places like El Paso, Corpus Christi and San Antonio. It's an act that has presumably gotten so tired stateside that he's had to travel to Russia and Sweden for his last two bogus world title shots. In a story as sadly cliché in boxing as a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant, Holyfield, who earned over $200 million during his career, needs money. He was reportedly broke as of this summer when his $10 million estate in Atlanta was under foreclosure, the mother of one of his children was suing for $9,000 in unpaid child support and a Utah consulting company took him to court claiming he failed to pay for landscaping.
Holyfield says he blames his financial problems on people who took advantage of him while he was focused on boxing. Ironically, it's now the people who are taking advantage of him in boxing that are helping him get out of his financial problems. It's a vicious cycle that doesn't look like it will ever end and one that I'd rather not watch anymore.