Evander Holyfield Fighting Always Calls for Evander Holyfield to Retire

Evander Holyfield's dream of being world heavyweight champion is never going to come true, but fight fans can't stand to laugh. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

It might be the same old story and same old song and dance, but every time Evander Holyfield fights, it needs to be said.

Evander Holyfield should have retired years ago. And his quest to once again become "world heavyweight champion" is crazier than it is admirable.

Holyfield is now 48 years old. This Saturday in Denmark, he will face 46-year-old Brian Nielsen. Nielsen (64-2, 43 KO) carries one of the emptiest "great records" in notable boxing history, and years ago earned the unflattering nickname "Danish Pastry" among diehard boxing fans.

Most worrisome is that at his advanced age, Nielsen hasn't fought in nine years, yet both he and Holyfield were able to pass whatever medical standards there are in Denmark. Holyfield had his license taken away after disastrous 2004 loss to Larry Donald. At that time, the New York State Athletic Commission felt that Holyfield should no longer be allowed to enter a pro ring.

That was seven years ago. Five years ago, the questionable commission in Texas re-licensed "The Real Deal," who then won four fights in a row (one questionable against Fres Oquendo) before landing a 2007 fight against WBO titlist Sultan Ibragimov. That fight was dominated by Ibragimov, himself hardly a special fighter, and the fight wound up most memorable because of the PPV commercial that tried unsuccessfully to sell the fight to American audiences:

The dolphin waited. And a generation of boxing fans who barely have any memories of Evander Holyfield the great heavyweight champion are still waiting for the old man to hang up the gloves once and for all.

Following Holyfield's loss to Ibragimov, he was granted a shot at seven-footer Nikolai Valuev in December 2008, 14 months after the Ibragimov fight. Valuev-Holyfield was without question a pure freak show, held in Switzerland where neither man had any significant following.

Sadly, that fight might have been it for Holyfield had he actually won the fight. Maybe just one of the four titles that will likely never again be unified would have been enough. And from my view, Holyfield deserved the win. But Valuev got the nod.

And so we trudge on. Holyfield's dreams are inspiring in their way. But the writing has been on the wall for almost a decade. Last year, he returned after sitting out all of 2009 to beat a fat, old version of Francois Botha. In January of this year, he faced journeyman Sherman Williams in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia -- far away from the old lights of Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden, and Atlantic City.

On Saturday, he trots the globe once more, in search of an elusive dream that will never come true. There was once a time when Evander Holyfield fighting on a Saturday night would have had the boxing world's eyes glued to their TV screens. Now, he is an afterthought as the world watches Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand, where Holyfield fought Mike Tyson in two of the most famous and highly-watched fights of the 1990s.

If it weren't so sad, it would be laughable. Trouble is, it really is too sad to laugh.

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