Sat, Jan 22, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Aging Holyfield pursues his heavyweight dream

AFP, WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WEST VIRGINIA

Aging warrior Evander Holyfield continues his quest to regain a major heavyweight world belt today when he takes on Sherman “Tank” Williams.

Holyfield, at 48, is still clinging to a career that has seen him claim four heavyweight world titles.

Despite his suspension by New York boxing officials five years ago for “diminishing skills,” Holyfield remains committed to the dream of retiring as champion.

“I didn’t get discouraged for long and I will try to get my title shot,” said Holyfield, whose fight against 38-year-old Bahamas big man Williams is a tune-up to a scheduled March bout in Copenhagen against Denmark’s Brian Nielsen. “I want to finish my career as a champion. If it were left to me, I’d fight the Klitschkos and David Haye, then that would be it.”

Holyfield lost the undisputed heavyweight crown to Britain’s now-retired Lennox Lewis in 1999.

Holyfield briefly held the World Boxing Association crown in 2000 before a loss to John Ruiz — also retired — then lost world title fights to Chris Byrd in 2002, Russia’s Sultan Ibragimov in 2007 and Russia’s Nikolay Valuev in 2008.

Holyfield doesn’t deny that age has changed him as an athlete.

“When you get older, you don’t recover as fast and you have to do everything properly ... throwing it don’t work,” he said.

However, he doesn’t believe he has reached the limit of his ability.

“I guess the most important thing I learned is not to quit, be able to make adjustments, be real about yourself, know what you can do and know when you have to move on to something else,” he said.

Last April, Holyfield won for the first time since June, 2007, by stopping South African Frans Botha, then 41, in the eighth round.

Holyfield, who brings a record of 43-10 with two draws and 28 knockouts to the bout, insists he still has the skills that made him a champion.

“I’ve been an athlete since I was eight and started trying to be successful back then,” Holyfield said.

“At some point, I reached my goal and have since maintained my conditioning,” he said. “I’ve always had a plan to live a long life. I plan to be heavyweight champion again, too.”

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