Avenging all of us who have ever been screwed on an insurance premium, last night Evander Holyfield took out the hapless Jeremy Bates, an insurance salesman from West Virginia. OK, that's not very kind. After all, my father was an insurance salesman, and he could always kick my ass...
Anyway, now, judging from comments on the web, quite a few boxing fans are wondering, "is the 'Real Deal' back?" The short answer is ... nope. Sure, Evander looked pretty fleet-footed and landed some decent combinations, but Bates never stood a chance. He was hand-picked by the Holyfield camp as designated punching bag. Six inches shorter than Evander and lacking even rudimentary boxing skills, Bates simply couldn't get off the ring once Holyfield started pounding him. And let's not forget, Evander only had to go two rounds with this guy. It takes more time than that to prove anything.
After all, in Holyfield's fight against Toney, he looked good early on too -- only to be brutally beaten later and TKO'd in the ninth (well, OK, "early on" here only refers to round one; it was all Toney after that). The Bates fight doesn't prove anything, except that we will see Holyfield fight again down the line. He may beat another journeyman, but he has done nothing to prove his worth against even the current crop of underwhelming heavies.
I'm not of the camp that says Evander should be prevented from fighting. Anyone in good health with a will to fight deserves the chance. But despite his name appeal, it would be better for boxing if he were to choose to stop. No one wants to see an old man beaten senseless. And before people start making comparisons to George Foreman, let's remember, Foreman's comeback started strong and remained that way until he won that title at 45. Evander has not provided us with a similar recent track record. Yes, the Holyfield name would bring in some casual boxing fans, but what happens if he really gets hurt? Another political shit-storm and yet more damaged credibility to the sport, that's what.
Evander blames his recent losses on health, not age, stating after the fight, "I want everybody to know that for the last four or five years, I was injured, but I was fighting. Them last three fights, I fought with one shoulder. I was hurt. My back was hurting. I had cramps. So I'm happy today to be able to go into training, not injured, and show you that age has nothing to do with it."
Three fights injured? What kind of line is that? If true, one wonders even more about where his mental faculties lie. I could see maybe one fight, but to lose that and continue on in the same fashion for two more is either extreme masochism, extreme delusion, or both.
Holyfield is a legend, and in my opinion, in his prime he was one of the top 20 heavyweights of all time, maybe even top 10. I wish the man nothing but the best, but the best for him right now would be to retire with at least the dignity of going out with a win.