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Home » Holyfield: Sparring a heavier, harder hitting Tyson inspired me to move up

Holyfield: Sparring a heavier, harder hitting Tyson inspired me to move up

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Boxing legend Evander Holyfield says he took the decision early in his career to aim for two-weight world champion status.

The American amateur star, who won a bronze at the 1984 Olympics, was ready to turn pro a few months later.

Sparring Mike Tyson in 1986, when ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’ was in his pomp, gave Holyfield the belief he could eventually make a dent in the top division.

Speaking regarding the latest undisputed king of the cruiserweights moving up in Oleksandr Usyk, Holyfield revealed tasty training sessions with ‘Iron’ Mike.

“We had some great boxers at heavyweight, but in today’s era the amateur program – at least in America – is not as good as it was. That’s showing up when it comes to the boxing ability of the big guys,” Holyfield explained to The Ring Magazine.

“Usyk might move very fast at heavyweight. The reason I was inspired to do it (move up in weight) was because Tyson was the heavyweight champion of the world. When we were amateurs, he was heavier than me and I was able to do well with him [in sparring].

“He hit harder, but my arms were longer than his. He could hit hard with one shot, but I can hit you all day and all night,” he added.

Holyfield had cleaned up at 200 pounds by 1988. ‘The Real Deal’ entered the heavy ranks and put together a six-fight winning run.

In his legacy fight, Holyfield was ironically pitted against Tyson’s first conqueror in James ‘Buster’ Douglas.

Just months after Douglas stunned the world against Tyson in Tokyo, Holyfield stopped him in a mere three rounds.

Becoming a two-weight undisputed title holder just six years on from Olympic medal was a massive achievement for Holyfield.


Six years later, Holyfield and Tyson shared a ring professionally with the ex-cruiserweight coming out on top.

The pair would rematch seven months later in the now infamous ‘Bite Fight’ – with Tyson taking a chunk out of Holyfield’s ear in a disqualification loss.

Retiring in 2011, Holyfield ended his career with a 44-10-2 record boasting 29 knockouts.