Did Evander Holyfield’s quixotic journey back to the heavyweight Promised Land become any more plausible by clobbering the limited, club-level bruiser Vinny Maddalone in Corpus Christi, Texas?
I’d like to say no. But we’re talking boxing, a business rooted in what Lennox Lewis calls “politricks.” If Evander can still put fannies in seats—and he was able to attract over 10,000 a couple fights ago—anything can be arranged.
But here’s another question: Was that the “The Real Deal” who dispatched Maddalone at 2:48 of the third? At 44, the living legend is as chiseled—if not quite as lethal—as ever. Or was it his (alleged) double “Evan Fields”?
As you’ve probably heard, Evander has been implicated in the most recent steroid/human growth hormone scandal making headlines. Someone named Evan Fields who bought illegal performance enhancing goodies online apparently shares Mr. Holyfield’s Atlanta address and has the same phone number. When law enforcement officials called, the man on the other end on the line sounded suspiciously like you know who.
Innocent until proven, of course. But Holyfield’s most incriminating act occurred many years before when he hired multiple Mr. Olympia champ Lee Haney as his conditioning coach, who helped him bulk up from a 190-pound cruiser to a Rodin-like heavyweight.
Regardless, Holyfield is a marvel of fortitude and determination, not to mention genetics. This was all on full display the other night. Although Maddalone is easy to look good against, Holyfield, to my amazement, had me wondering—“Could he? Could he once against defy the odds and prove the critics wrong? In this barren wasteland of a division, could he once again strap on some legit hardware?
He now claims that that his three-fight losing streak from 2002 to 2004 against Chris Byrd, James Toney and Larry Donald, was do to a bad left shoulder which he has since had repaired. Call me crazy, call me a ghoul for encouraging his dreams, but here’s a man who once had a hole in his heart, prayed on it, and then voila! The Mayo Clinic said it was miraculously healed. Hey, I didn’t make it.
His left shoulder was definitely in fine working order when he came out in the first. His jab was sharp and busy, and he hooked off of it with tight, angular shots his opponent had no answer for. More impressive were his spry legs, which navigated the ring in either direction with aplomb. Vinny just followed, with no sense of how to cut off the ring.
A clash of head with 30 seconds left opened up a gash on Maddalone’s forehead. Although Evander is famous for using his big shaven dome opportunistically, this time he wasn’t at fault.
In the second, Holyfield played matador to Maddalone’s raging bull. But this was no Jake LaMotta. He tried, ineffectively, to rough up the supposed old man. Save some good bodywork, the clubber from Flushing, Queens only hastened his demise.
With a minute left in the third, Holyfield found a home for some whiplash-inducing uppercuts and hooks and straight shots, too. He drove the bloodied concussed man into the ropes and went to work.
Maddalone hung on bravely and eventually walked Evander backwards across the ring. But he had no chance of winning the round, much less the fight. Veteran cornerman Al Certo walked up onto the ring apron and stopped the fight.
Holyfield now goes to 41-8-2 (27), while Maddalone drops to 27-4 (19).
After the fight, Holyfield said he’s ready for anybody—no more tune-ups. Wlaldimir Klitschko or Sam Peter would brutalize him, but something tells me he will get another shot against one of the lesser names out there.
For three rounds or so, I actually think Evander is still a dangerous, cagey man—and anything’s possible. But I can’t see him going a hard 12. But it’s not what I think that matters. As long as they let him fight, all that matters is what Evander thinks. A quarter-century since being a teenager, he still believes he’s indestructible.
Holyfield’s 1984 Olympic teammate and all-time great Pernell Whitaker knows he’ll never be a prizefighter again. He seems okay with that and is trying on the role of trainer. He’s working with heavyweight Calvin Brock, who dropped a thudding right hand on Ralph “Wild Wild” West, ending the fight via KO at 2:49 of the first.
His first fight back since getting flattened by Wladimir Klitschko in November, Brock moves to 30-1 (23). Journeyman West drops to 17-11-1 (14).
Jnr. bantam Raul Martinez extended his undefeated streak to 18-0 (12) in taking a UD 8 over Kevin Hudgins. Scores were 80-71 twice and 79-72 goes to 18-0 (12). Hudgins fell to 5-9 (2).