Monday, July 13, 2009

Mark's top 40 at 40: 2

We're all the way down to #2 on the Mark Lyons countdown. If you've been following along with Mark's list, you know he's counting down his 40 favorite fighters to celebrate turning 40 this year.

This week Mark's letting it all hang out in honor of one of the sport's all-time great warriors.

Take it away Mark..

2. Evander Holyfield

Career Record: 42-10-2 (27)

Three favorite fights: Too difficult to narrow it down to just 3.

Recipe for manliness- 1 part Erik Morales, 1 part Joe Frazier, 1 part Matthew Saad Muhammad and 14 parts Evander Holyfield.

Back when the Olympics and amateur boxing actually meant something, I watched this man blaze through his competition like a shuttle to outer space. We all know the story of when he destroyed Kevin Barry so thoroughly that he brought Evander up to the podium, so I wont rehash it.

I really am at a loss for words and quite honestly I'm both humbled and a little choked up in trying to do justice to this man. It astounds me when I run into people that have hate for perhaps the truest warrior/bad ass this sport has ever seen. He walked into the ring every time (still does) begging his opponent to out-man him. 46 yrs old, undersized and without the majority of his skills...

I defy anyone to find the guy who can throw his nuts on the table and have them be bigger than Holyfield's. In fact, all of these steroid allegations came up because Evander needed a way to shrink his balls so they could fit in his pants.

"Who wants some?" That's his motto, always has been and always will be. Unfortunately I'm just a working class man, but if I was Donald Trump, I would be offering Chris Arreola a fortune to get in the ring with The Real Deal. If I was down and out, I would bet my food stamps that we'd see Arreola on his face via the greatest left hook the division has ever seen (sorry Joe).

For some ridiculous reason, everything about Holyfield is a "can't". The only real "can't" when it comes to Evander are that you can't hurt him, you can't take his punch and you can't beat him.

12th professional fight- 15 rounds with Dwight Muhammad Qawi. Are you kidding me?! One of the most epic wars the sport has ever seen. One of many to come. It's fairly clear that even a lot of modern fans haven't seen that piece of work. Hit me once and I'll hit you back forty times. After cleaning out a few other champs afterwards they rematch...

"Qawi has never been off his feet"

Oops. KO4 Holyfield.

A bit before this was I was telling all my friends that Evander Holyfield was the guy to kick Mike Tyson's ass. Many say it, I lived it, and to the point that people got nauseated by how often I demanded the inevitable. And yeah, any age, anyplace, anytime, Mike Tyson is Evander's bitch. 100 times out of 100. Holyfield would never lose. You know why? Too much man. He would never acknowledge Tyson's hardest punch with anything less than a snarl.

The Tyson apologists are nobody to be taken seriously. But at the same time, Mike was shot? His head wasn't in it? Twice? Really? Evander made him a girl when he was supposed to die in the ring. Don't you get it? He is Rocky. All you haters will be telling your kids that you once saw Evander Holyfield dodge a speeding bullet and leap a tall building in a single bound, because he kicked Superman's ass.

March 11th, 1989, the day after my 20th birthday, Michael Dokes took him to the limit in the 8th round. You can say this guy is the man as much as you want, but until you see him get hit with 15 or 20 unanswered punches and get pissed about it, you don't really know. After an epic battle, a short, compact hook (the GOAT if you're paying attention) sent Dokes tumbling across the ring until the God of War sprinted across to help his descent to the canvas.

Then what? A good bit of ducking from Don King followed. There are many things you can say about King, but keeping Tyson far away from Evander wasn't one of his bad choices. Holy was Mike's daddy 365/24/7, when they finally met it was decided in a matter of seconds. Right hand by Tyson...harder right hand from Holyfield, and a sneer from heaven that said, "Yeah boy, I got you now."

That's the most overwhelming thing about Evander Holyfield, he always had you. When he danced with Riddick Bowe in maybe the greatest round I've ever seen and later said "I think I got him", who the hell didn't believe him?

Should I go on all night and all day tomorrow? I can. One of the most beloved boxers of his era and conversely one of the most sickeningly underrated. Is there anyone you can confidently take against him?

So many memories, for so many years all the way up to the cannonball left hook he sent Lou Savarese to the ground with. Hey Lou, big props baby. Joe Frazier never hit Ali that hard.

Oh, by the way, Bert Cooper got brutalized in the very round he "almost stopped Holyfield". What's the best way to counter a wild knockdown? I'd have to say with 75 consecutive uppercuts.

YouTube Break

Holyfield vs Cooper

Legendary Nights: Bowe Part 1

Legendary Nights: Bowe Part 2

Legendary Nights: Bowe Part 3

That trilogy, one of the greatest ever, ruined the victor forever. The refusal from so many to give their respect to Holyfield has made Bowe a somewhat underrated figure in heavyweight history. Would you bet money on Joe Louis against the Riddick Bowe that challenged Holyfield? Me either.

The greatest example I have of the fighter and the man Evander Holyfield was from the Jim Rome show hyping the rematch with Lennox Lewis.

"It must be crazy watching a guy that big run from me. Who won? Who cares? Why
don't we fight until someone gets knocked out?"

Lewis was many things, but he wasn't stupid. You don't try to stand up to Holyfield. You can't win.

Some personal highlights

The first Bowe fight I lost a beard bet with a friend that would go for three months.

I had said he would whip Tyson for so long that people remembered it for a decade. I got a call from a long time friend I had lost contact with to say congratulations.

The night of, my roomate and I drank a half keg and didn't have anyone else over. It was our night with the great one.

I issue a challenge to any reader, show me a fight when Holyfield got outballed and I'll buy you dinner. That's like asking you to show me a sexy Roseanne Barr picture.

To recap...

-beat supreme bad ass Dwight Muhammad Qawi over 15 grueling rounds in his 12th fight.

-became the first man to knock Qawi out.

-beat Michael Dokes in an ultimate test of manhood.

-destroyed the conquerer of Tyson .

-hurt George Foreman with all-time combination punching.

-threw the first 40 consecutive uppercut combination in history vs. Cooper.

-took Riddick Bowe's prime.

-dropped Ray Mercer.

-made Mike Tyson his bitch.

-avenged his loss to Moorer ten fold (yeah haters, they fought twice).

-brought the girl out of Lewis.

-knocked out Ruiz with a body shot and then schooled him in the third fight.

-kicked Rahman's ass.

-schooled Valuev at 46 years old.

Buddy, I am ashamed to have one fighter ahead of you, but you have been a bright light in my life. Nobody has proven me right more times than you have. One of history's greatest fighters and quite possibly the greatest warrior the sweet science has ever known. Nobody ever outmanned you and nobody ever will.

Someday, God willing, I'll be in heaven listening to the Hendrix/Lennon band, eating steamed crabs and watching Holyfield/Frazier LXXIV. Your impact on boxing is under-appreciated by many, but not here.

Evander Holyfield- Champion, warrior, and an inspiration to me always.

Mark's previous entries: Intro, 40-36, 35-31, 30-26, 25-21, 20-16, 15-13, 12-10, 9-8, 7-6, 5, 4 & 3.

e-mail Mark Lyons


mpar1 said...

I was wondering which order you would have them in, Mark. I look forward to reading the writeup on #1.

Anonymous said...

I know you love him man, but I just cant get by how much he was mentioned in Balco's file. It wasnt event the only time his name was mentioned with steroids. His body changed so much fromt the mid eighties to the mid nineties that I cant discard the idea of Evander being helped by Steroids. Im sorry man and I hope Im wrong...

Anonymous said...

Oh and in hoping that I am wrong about Evander I address your point on who I would bet on to beat him. That is Ali, Lewis, Bowe, and Holmes. I have him behind those greats in history and tied with Joe Frazier. Incidently if two men fought from any era Id have him get it on with Frazier at a catch weight of 205lbs. If that fight were to ever happen I would die a happy man.