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Evander Holyfield: “I had Mike Tyson in the corner and he couldn’t get out”

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Evander Holyfield has reflected on his first-ever sparring session with Mike Tyson as rumours of a potential rematch gather steam.

Holyfield, 57, has been linked to an exhibition bout with the 53-year-old Tyson after both heavyweights recently posted training footage to social media.

It would be the first time the pair have shared the ring since the infamous ‘bite fight’ of 1997.

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“[We were] very close, Mike and I were friends, we did spar one time. The difference was he was 17 and I was 21, that’s a big difference for confidence and knowledge,” Holyfield told Chris Mannix.

“I definitely knew he was a good puncher because he was knocking everybody out.

“Mike was the only person who had to pay people to come in and spar with him.

“The fact of the matter he had to pay people to come in, we didn’t have to pay nobody because we weren’t nobody. But somehow he was knocking sparring partners out with 16oz gloves.

“That’s the difference, he was a puncher, he was very aggressive. But I’m a guy who tended to fight aggressive people very well.”

Holyfield said the sparring was stopped early because someone was going to get hurt.

“He did what he did but they stopped it because they said somebody was gonna get hurt,” he said. “An Olympic coach came in and stopped it and Mike was telling people, ‘wow, he’s skinny but he’s strong’.

“I used to spar the heavyweights and the super-heavyweights all the time anyway. I was the guy who sparred with Henry Tillman, Tyrell Biggs, I sparred with all the big guys, I never sparred with people in my same weight division.

“They stopped it at about a minute and 30 seconds, they said someone was going to get hurt. At that time I had him in the corner and he couldn’t get out.

“I was 21, he was 17, he was very good back then. But the point is that it was nothing to talk about, it was sparring. The Olympic coach stopped it but I knew I wasn’t going to get hurt. There wasn’t anybody hurt but I had him in the corner.”

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