Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson seem to be on a collision course in 2020 after both came out of retirement at virtually the same time.
The world of sport has taken on something of a surreal air in recent weeks. With practically every major fight, tournament or fixture either cancelled or postponed, the TV networks have been forced to indulge in some retrospectives, with classic football games, car races and, of course, boxing bouts from across the years filling our prime time screens.
As far as boxing is concerned, however, those big names from the past might just be invading 2020 in a more literal sense. Floyd Mayweather has made a career of retiring, so his possible return if the price is right is a surprise to nobody. Suggestions that Mike Tyson was considering a comeback caused greater ructions, along with a general consensus that at 53, this was surely just a publicity stunt.
Just how serious Iron Mike is remains to be seen, but even if the return happens, it now appears he will not be the Granddaddy of the boxing circuit. His long-term rival Evander Holyfield is four years his senior and has also announced a return to the ring.
A great cause
The preliminary announcement was that he would be participating in a series of exhibition fights to raise money for charity. Holyfield is an ambassador for Unite4OurFight, a charitable organization that helps children with learning and emotional development challenges. In recent weeks, it has been specifically helping those whose education has been disrupted by broader global events.
Fights like these attract attention from fans who just want to catch a glimpse of their old hero, but they are not typically over-serious or highly competitive. However, there is an additional factor in the Holyfield saga that is getting boxing fans crowding to sports betting sites. That is the prospect of Holyfield and Tyson meeting in the ring one last time.
Third time’s the charm?
In case anyone needs reminding, Tyson and Holyfield have met twice, in 1996 and 1997, although their rivalry goes back even longer. In 1984, both had been competing for a place in the USA’s Olympic squad. Back then, Holyfield qualified and Tyson did not.
Fast forward 12 years, and Tyson and Holyfield’s first encounter, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena was Tyson’s first defense of the WBA Heavyweight title he had won two months earlier. The fight was ill-tempered from the outset, with Tyson throwing a punch after the bell at the end of the first round, and Holyfield retaliating. Holyfield had Tyson’s measure for the rest of the fight and when it was stopped in the eleventh, he became the first fighter since Muhammad Ali to win a belt three times.
Of course, that proved to be child’s play compared with the pair’s second encounter, which took place a year later at the same venue. The bout that has gone down in history as “bite night” ended, of course, with Tyson’s disqualification and Holyfield being rushed to hospital with the remains of his ear in an ice bucket.
In the intervening years, both men have mellowed to a certain extent, and Tyson has expressed remorse for what happened in 97. But such a long rivalry deserves a better conclusion. Perhaps, the two legends meeting up one last time in a charity event is exactly what we need in these strange times.