Winston Churchill once said, "Never, never, never give up." Evander Holyfield is living his boxing life with that in mind, as the soon-to-be 49-year-old former heavyweight champ is hoping to get a crack at the winner of Saturday's fight between Alexander Povetkin and Ruslan Chagaev:
"I want the winner of the world championship fight between Alexander Povetkin and Ruslan Chagaev. The fight between Chagaev and Povetkin is very interesting. Teddy Atlas is a very good trainer. Povetkin is the favorite for me. He was an Olympic champion and world amateur champion, and he's undefeated. I love boxing and I feel fit. My dream is to become world champion again."
Alarmingly, there are still some fans out there who treat Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KO) as if he's a relevant fighter. They generally point to the fact that he's usually won since his 2006 comeback, which followed New York taking his boxing license away after Larry Donald (the Larry Donald) beat the crap out of him in 2004. Yes, I scored that Valuev fight for Holyfield, but it's not like it was impressive. It's just that Valuev sucks and didn't do anything. More recently, we've seen Sherman Williams trouble the hell out of Evander over three rounds, with Holyfield getting out with a no-contest due to a cut. That Evander went to Denmark to beat Brian Nielsen, who hadn't fought in nine years, is of no substance to me.
Evander Holyfield does not at all deserve a shot at the Povetkin vs Chagaev winner. There's no arguing the point, I don't think. I mean, you can, but I'm not going to see that side of it. He's not a real contender, he doesn't make for good fights, and he doesn't bring extra eyeballs in. I don't know how he's viewed internationally, where we've seen casual boxing fans and media happy to welcome in any washed-up former star fighter in certain places, but at home he's become more a sad reminder of what boxing can be for washed-up fighters who don't know when to quit. This is sad, because he should be celebrated as the legend he is, but that's not happening, because he keeps going out there.
And that's fine if that's what he wants to do. If he's up to commission standards (whatever they may be), then all the best to him. I might not like it, but it's not my place to try to rally some "force a guy to retire" campaign. But does he deserve to get a title fight, or any major fight with a real contender? Absolutely not. He's not good enough anymore. And, yes, in a perfect world, he'd retire. But this one isn't perfect. I know because Evander Holyfield isn't in the Hall of Fame yet, because he can't let go.