Former undisputed heavyweight champion Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield has shared his thoughts on the mooted heavyweight superfight between unified champion Anthony Joshua 21-0 (20) of the United Kingdom and WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) of the United States.
It is a subject the 55-year-old Holyfield knows a thing or two about. The Atlanta resident was one-half of many of the biggest fights in boxing in the 1990s.
After unifying the cruiserweight division in the late 1980s, Holyfield made the move up to heavyweight where he packed on muscle to his 6-foot-2-and-a-half frame, debuting in the open weight class at 202 pounds. In his seventh fight at heavyweight he defeated James “Buster” Douglas to claim the unified heavyweight championship that Douglas had picked up in Japan when he claimed the scalp of Mike Tyson eight months and one stone earlier.
In his next fight Holyfield gave away almost 50-pounds to successfully defend his championship belts against the still-formidable George Foreman and in 1992 outpointed Larry Holmes over 12 rounds at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Fights against Riddick Bowe, Michael Moorer and Ray Mercer produced mixed results, leading to his back-to-back clashes with Mike Tyson in 1996 that produced a pair of unlikely wins that would catapult the Holyfield name into another stratosphere. A draw and a points loss to Lennox Lewis in 1999 rounded out his big fights for the decade.
“I think it would be a great fight,” Holyfield said of the Joshua versus Wilder fight to Express.co.uk. “That is what boxing needed, a shot in the arm.
“Both of the fighters are good fighters and I think with Deontay, he’s a guy that has got the base to do anything. He’s a good fighter.”
Wilder is coming off a 10th round TKO over skilled but ageing Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz. While still an unorthodox boxer, the performance was enough to convince many pundits that the lanky American puncher could hang with the more traditionally drilled and skilled Englishman.
“I would say he (Wilder) has the best aggression I’ve seen,” explained Holyfield. “You’ve got to look at the person for where they’ve come from. Here’s a guy, he boxed because the fact is he wanted to help his kid. But how many people you think fighting look like him? He’s got a basketball body.
“He worked his skills and everything they thought he wasn’t going to be, he became. He is getting better and better and I think he’s hitting the people a little harder than he used to hit them.”
Negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps have stalled in recent weeks, with the WBC titleholder holding out for the fight to take place in the USA while Joshua is adamant the fight takes place in the UK, where his last three fights have averaged a live gate of 80,000 people.
Most of all, Holyfield is just glad to see the focus back on boxing’s flagship division.
“I’m honoured and I am proud that it (the heavyweight division) is back,” he said.
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