Archive for the ‘Boxing Champs’ Category
John Arthur (“Jack”) Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), nicknamed the “Galveston Giant,” was an American boxer. At the height of the Jim Crow era, Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915). In a documentary about his life, Ken Burns notes, “for more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth.” Johnson attests that his success in boxing came from the coaching he received from Joe Choynski, who became his cellmate after the pair were arrested for fighting in Texas, where boxing was illegal at the time. The aging Choynski saw natural talent and determination in Johnson and taught him the nuances of defense, stating “A man who can move like you should never have to take a punch”. He is considered a boxing legend and was the first person ever to knock down James J. Jeffries in a professional boxing bout. Their fight is to this day considered a seminal moment in boxing history.
Early life Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas, the second child and first son of Henry and Tina “Tiny” Johnson, former slaves who worked at blue-collar jobs to raise six children and taught them how to read and write. Henry Johnson traced his ancestry back to the Coromantees who came from modern-day Ghana. Johnson dropped out of school after just five or six years of education to get a job as a dock worker in Galveston.
Johnson fought Joe Choynski, who knocked him out, but whilst they spent time after the fight in prison together, talked much about boxing. There is a photo existing of them both behind bars. Joe, who also became his friend and sparring partner, taught him a lot. Johnson’s boxing style was very distinctive. He developed a more patient approach than was customary in that day, basically playing with his opponents, often carrying on a conversation with ringsiders at the same time as he was fighting. Johnson would begin a bout cautiously, slowly building up over the rounds into a more aggressive fighter. When annoyed, he often fought to punish his opponents rather than knock them out, endlessly avoiding their blows and striking with swift counters. He always gave the impression of having much more to offer and, if pushed, he could punch powerfully. There are films of some of his fights in which he can be seen holding up his opponent, who otherwise might have fallen, until he recovered. Those were the days when the (mostly white) patrons liked value for money, and it was a habit, especially for black boxers, to make the fight last a respectable time. With the many bouts a fighter engaged in, it was commonplace to have fought the same opponent as many as a dozen or even more times. So it is highly likely that the results of many of these fights were “pre-arranged,” and also pre-determined to last a goodly number of rounds.
Johnson’s style was very effective, but it was criticized in the press as being cowardly and devious. By contrast, world heavyweight champion “Gentleman” Jim Corbett had used many of the same techniques a decade earlier, and was praised by the press as “the cleverest man in boxing.”
By 1902, Johnson had won at least 50 fights against both white and black opponents. Johnson won his first title on February 3, 1903, beating “Denver” Ed Martin over 20 rounds for the World Colored Heavyweight Championship. His efforts to win the full title were thwarted, as world heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries refused to face him then. Black and white boxers could meet in other competitions, but the world heavyweight championship was off limits to them. However, Johnson did fight former champion Bob Fitzsimmons in July 1907, and knocked him out in two rounds. There is a report that Johnson even fought and KO’d Jim Jeffries’ brother Jack, and taunted him about it to force a fight, with no success.
Johnson finally won the world heavyweight title on December 26, 1908, a full six years after lightweight champion Joe Gans became the first African American boxing champion. Johnson’s victory over the reigning world champion, Canadian Tommy Burns, in Sydney, Australia, came after stalking Burns around the world for two years and taunting him in the press for a match. The fight lasted fourteen rounds before being stopped by the police in front of over 20,000 spectators. The title was awarded to Johnson on a referee’s decision as a knockout.
After Johnson’s victory over Burns, racial animosity among whites ran so deep that it was called out for a “Great White Hope” to take the title away from Johnson. As title holder, Johnson thus had to face a series of fighters each billed by boxing promoters as a “great white hope,” often in exhibition matches. In 1909, he beat Frank Moran, Tony Ross, Al Kaufman, and the middleweight champion Stanley Ketchel. The match with Ketchel was originally thought to have been an exhibition, and in fact it was fought by both men that way, until the 12th round, when Ketchel threw a right to Johnson’s head, knocking him down. Quickly regaining his feet, and very annoyed, Johnson immediately dashed straight at Ketchell and threw a single punch, an uppercut, a punch for which he was famous, to Ketchel’s jaw, knocking him out. Several of Ketchell’s teeth were also knocked out with some sticking in Johnson’s glove. The filmed fight shows Johnson wiping the teeth off his glove with a smirk. His fight with Philadelphia Jack O’Brien was a disappointing one for Johnson: though weighing 205 pounds (93 kg) to O’Brien’s 161 pounds (73 kg), he could only achieve a six-round draw with the great middleweight.
The “Fight of the Century”
James J. Jeffries fights Johnson in 1910In 1910, former undefeated heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries came out of retirement and said, “I feel obligated to the sporting public at least to make an effort to reclaim the heavyweight championship for the white race. . . I should step into the ring again and demonstrate that a white man is king of them all.” Jeffries had not fought in six years and had to lose well over 100 pounds to get back to his championship fighting weight. Indeed, initially Jeffries had no interest in the fight being quite happy as he was. But those who wanted to see Johnson ground into the dirt badgered him unmercifully for months, and also offered him an unheard sum of money, reputed to be about $120,000.
The fight took place on July 4, 1910 in front of 20,000 people, at a ring built just for the occasion in downtown Reno, Nevada. Johnson proved stronger and more nimble than Jeffries. In the 15th round, after Jeffries had been knocked down twice for the first time in his career, the referee stopped the fight before Jeffries could be knocked out.
The “Fight of the Century” earned Johnson $65,000 and silenced the critics, who had belittled Johnson’s previous victory over Tommy Burns as “empty,” claiming that Burns was a false champion since Jeffries had retired undefeated.
Riots and aftermathThe outcome of the fight triggered race riots that evening—the Fourth of July—all across the United States, from Texas and Colorado to New York and Washington, D.C. Johnson’s victory over Jeffries had dashed white dreams of finding a “great white hope” to defeat him. Many whites felt humiliated by the defeat of Jeffries.
Blacks, on the other hand, were jubilant, and celebrated Johnson’s great victory as a victory for racial advancement. Black poet William Waring Cuney later highlighted the black reaction to the fight in his poem “My Lord, What a Morning.” Around the country, blacks held spontaneous parades and gathered in prayer meetings.
Some “riots” were simply blacks celebrating in the streets. In certain cities, like Chicago, the police did not disturb the celebrations. But in other cities, the police and angry white citizens tried to subdue the revelers. Police interrupted several attempted lynchings. In all, “riots” occurred in more than 25 states and 50 cities. About 23 blacks and two whites died in the riots, and hundreds more were injured.
 Film of the boutA number of leading American film companies joined forces to shoot footage of the Jeffries-Johnson fight and turn it into a feature-length documentary film, at the cost of $250,000. The film was distributed widely in the U.S. and was exhibited interna tionally as well. As a result, Congress banned prizefight films from being distributed across state lines in 1912; the ban was lifted in 1940. In 2005, the film of the Jeffries-Johnson “Fight of the Century” was entered into the United States National Film Registry as being worthy of preservation.
In the United States, many states and cities banned the exhibition of the Johnson-Jeffries film. The movement to censor Johnson’s victory took over the country within three days after the fight. It was a spontaneous movement. Two weeks after the match former President Theodore Roosevelt, an avid boxer and fan, wrote an article for The Outlook in which he supported banning not just moving pictures of boxing matches, but a complete ban on all prize fights in America. He cited the “crookedness” and gambling that surrounded such contests and that moving pictures have “introduced a new method of money getting and of demoralization.”
Loss of the title
Panorama of Willard – Johnson fight, Havana, CubaOn April 5, 1915, Johnson lost his title to Jess Willard, a working cowboy from Kansas who started boxing when he was twenty-seven years old. With a crowd of 25,000 at Oriental Park Racetrack in Havana, Cuba, Johnson was knocked out in the 26th round of the scheduled 45 round fight. Johnson, although having won almost every round, began to tire after the 20th round, and was visibly hurt by heavy body punches from Willard in rounds preceding the 26th round knockout. Johnson is said by many to have spread rumors that he took a dive, but Willard is widely regarded as having won the fight outright. Willard said, “If he was going to throw the fight, I wish he’d done it sooner. It was hotter than hell out there.”
Johnson was an early example of the celebrity athlete in the modern era, appearing regularly in the press and later on radio and in motion pictures. He earned considerable sums endorsing various products, including patent medicines, and indulged several expensive hobbies such as automobile racing and tailored clothing, as well as purchasing jewelry and furs for his wives. He even challenged champion racer Barney Oldfield to a match auto race at the Sheepshead Bay, New York one mile (1.6 km) dirt track. Oldfield, far more experienced, easily out-distanced Johnson, ending any thoughts the boxer might have had about becoming a professional driver. Once, when he was pulled over for a $50 speeding ticket (a large sum at the time), he gave the officer a $100 bill; when the officer protested that he couldn’t make change for that much, Johnson told him to keep the change, as he was going to make his return trip at the same speed. Johnson was also interested in opera (his favorite being Il Trovatore) and in history — he was an admirer of Napoleon Bonaparte, believing him to have risen from a similar origin to his own. In 1920, Johnson opened a night club in Harlem; he sold it three years later to a gangster, Owney Madden, who renamed it the Cotton Club.
Johnson constantly flouted conventions regarding the social and economic “place” of blacks in American society. As a black man, he broke a powerful taboo in consorting with white women, and would constantly and arrogantly verbally taunt men (both white and black) inside and outside the ring. Johnson was pompous about his affection for white women, and imperious about his physical prowess, both in and out of the ring. Asked the secret of his staying power by a reporter who had watched a succession of women parade into, and out of, the champion’s hotel room, Johnson supposedly said “Eat jellied eels and think distant thoughts”.
Johnson was married three times. All of his wives were white, a fact that caused considerable controversy at the time. In January 1911, Johnson married Etta Terry Duryea. A Brooklyn socialite and former wife of businessman Charles Duryea, she met Johnson at a car race in 1909. Their romantic involvement was very turbulent. Beaten many times by Johnson and suffering from severe depression, she committed suicide in September 1912, shooting herself with a revolver.
Less than three months later, on December 4, 1912, Johnson married Lucille Cameron. After Johnson married Cameron, two ministers in the South recommended that Johnson be lynched. Cameron divorced him in 1924 because of infidelity.
The next year, Johnson married Irene Pineau. When asked by a reporter at Johnson’s funeral what she had loved about him, she replied, “I loved him because of his courage. He faced the world unafraid. There wasn’t anybody or anything he feared.”
Johnson had no children.
Prison sentenceOn October 18, 1912, Johnson was arrested on the grounds that his relationship with Lucille Cameron violated the Mann Act against “transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes” due to her being an alleged prostitute and due to Johnson being black. Cameron, soon to become his second wife, refused to cooperate and the case fell apart. Less than a month later, Johnson was arrested again on similar charges. This time, the woman, another alleged prostitute named Belle Schreiber, with whom he had been involved in 1909 and 1910, testified against him. In the courtroom of Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the future Commissioner of Baseball who perpetuated the baseball color line until his death, Johnson was convicted by an all-white jury in June 1913, despite the fact that the incidents used to convict him took place prior to passage of the Mann Act. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.
Johnson skipped bail and left the country, joining Lucille in Montreal on June 25, before fleeing to France. For the next seven years, they lived in exile in Europe, South America and Mexico. Johnson returned to the U.S. on July 20, 1920. He surrendered to Federal agents at the Mexican border and was sent to the United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth to serve his sentence September 1920 as Inmate #15461.
While incarcerated, Johnson found need for a tool that would help tighten loosened fastening devices, and modified a wrench for the task. He patented his improvements on April 18, 1922, as US Patent 1,413,121. He was released on July 9, 1921.
There have been recurring proposals to grant Johnson a posthumous presidential pardon. A bill requesting President George W. Bush to pardon Johnson in 2008, passed the House, but failed to pass in the Senate. In April 2009, Senator John McCain, along with Representative Peter King, filmmaker Ken Burns and Johnson’s great-niece, Linda Haywood, requested a presidential pardon for Johnson from President Barack Obama. On July 29, 2009, Congress passed a resolution calling on President Obama to issue a pardon.
Later lifeJohnson continued fighting, but age was catching up with him. He fought professionally until 1938 at age 60 when he lost 7 of his last 9 bouts, losing his final fight to Walter Price by a 7th-round TKO. It is often suggested that any bouts after the age of 40 -which was a very venerable age for boxing in those days- be not counted on his actual record, since he was basically performing to make a living, for money. He also indulged in what was known as “cellar” fighting, where the bouts, unadvertised, were fought for private audiences, usually in cellars, or other unrecognised places. There are photographs existing of one of these fights. Johnson made his final ring appearance at age 67 on November 27, 1945, fighting three one minute exhibition rounds against two opponents, Joe Jeanette and John Ballcort, in a benefit fight card for U.S. War Bonds. 
On June 10, 1946, Johnson died in a car crash on U.S. Highway 1 near Franklinton, North Carolina, a small town near Raleigh, after racing angrily from a diner that refused to serve him. He was taken to the closest black hospital, Saint Agnes Hospital in Raleigh. He was 68 years old at the time of his death. He was buried next to Etta Duryea Johnson at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. His grave was initially unmarked, but a stone that bears only the name “Johnson” now stands above the plots of Jack, Etta, and Irene Pineau.
LegacyJohnson was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954, and is on the roster of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame. In 2005, the United States National Film Preservation Board deemed the film of the 1910 Johnson-Jeffries fight “historically significant” and put it in the National Film Registry.
Johnson’s skill as a fighter and the money that it brought made it impossible for him to be ignored by the establishment. In the short term, the boxing world reacted against Johnson’s legacy. But Johnson foreshadowed one of the most famous boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali. In fact, Ali often spoke of how he was influenced by Jack Johnson. Ali identified with Johnson because he felt America ostracized him in the same manner because of his opposition to the Vietnam War and affiliation with the Nation of Islam.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Jack Johnson on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans
George Edward Foreman (nicknamed “Big George”) (born January 10, 1949) is an American two-time former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion, Olympic gold medalist, ordained Baptist minister, author and successful entrepreneur.
A gold medalist at the 1968 Olympics, Foreman won the world heavyweight title with a second round knockout of then-undefeated Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica in 1973. He made two successful title defenses before losing to Muhammad Ali in “The Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974. He fought on but was unable to secure another title shot and retired following a loss to Jimmy Young in 1977 and became an ordained Christian minister. Ten years later Foreman announced a comeback, and in November 1994, at age 45, he regained the heavyweight championship by knocking out Michael Moorer. He remains the oldest heavyweight champion in history. He retired in 1997 at the age of 48, with a final record of 76-5, including 68 knockouts.
Foreman has been inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) currently rates Foreman as the eighth greatest heavyweight of all-time. In 2002, he was named one of the 25 greatest fighters of the past eighty years by Ring magazine. The Ring also ranked him as the 9th greatest puncher of all-time. He was a ringside analyst for HBO’s boxing coverage for twelve years, leaving in 2004. Outside of boxing, he is a successful entrepreneur and is known for his promotion of the George Foreman Grill, which has sold over 100 million units worldwide. In 1999 he sold the naming rights to the grill for $138 million.
Early lifeGeorge Foreman was born in Marshall, Texas. He grew up in the Fifth Ward, Houston, Texas, with six siblings. Although reared by J.D. Foreman, whom his mother had married when George was a small child, his biological father was Leroy Moorehead. Foreman was interested in football and idolized Jim Brown, but gave it up for boxing. He won a gold medal in the boxing/heavyweight division at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. By his own admission in his autobiography George was a troubled youth.
 Professional boxing careerForeman had an amateur record of 22-4, losing twice to Clay Hodges (also defeated by Max Briggs in his first ever fight). Foreman turned professional in 1969 with a three-round knockout of Donald Walheim in New York. He had a total of 13 fights that year, winning all of them (11 by knockout).
In 1970, Foreman continued his march toward the undisputed heavyweight title, winning all 12 of his bouts (11 by knockout). Among the opponents he defeated were Gregorio Peralta, whom he decisioned at Madison Square Garden although Peralta gave a very good account of himself and showed George was vulnerable to fast counter punching mixed with an assertive boxing style. But the boxing world shuddered when George Chuvalo was defeated by technical knockout (TKO) in three rounds. After this impressive win, Foreman defeated Charlie Polite in four rounds and Boone Kirkman in three.
In 1971, Foreman won seven more fights, winning all of them by knockout, including a rematch with Peralta, whom he defeated by knockout in the tenth and final round in Oakland, California, and a win over Leroy Caldwell, who was knocked out in the second round. After amassing a record of 32–0 (29 KO), Foreman was ranked as the number one challenger by the WBA and WBC.
 The Sunshine Showdown vs. Joe FrazierIn 1972, still undefeated, and with an impressive knockout record, Foreman was set to challenge undefeated and undisputed world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier. Despite boycotting a title elimination caused by the vacancy resulting from the championship being stripped from Muhammad Ali, Frazier had won the title from Jimmy Ellis and defended his title four times since, including a 15-round unanimous decision over the previously unbeaten Ali in 1971 after Ali had beaten Oscar Bonavena and Jerry Quarry. Despite Foreman’s superior size and reach, he was not expected to beat Frazier and was a 3:1 underdog going into the fight.
The Sunshine Showdown took place on January 22, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica, with Foreman dominating the fight to win the championship by technical knockout in one of boxing’s biggest upsets. In HBO Boxing’s first broadcast, the call made by Howard Cosell became one of the most memorable in all of sports: “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!” Before the fight Frazier was 29–0 (25 KO) and Foreman was 37–0 (34 KO). Frazier was knocked down six times by Foreman within two rounds, with the three knockdowns rule being waived for this bout. After the second knockdown, Frazier’s balance and mobility were impaired to the extent that he was unable to evade Foreman’s combinations. Frazier managed to get to his feet for all six knockdowns, but referee Arthur Mercante eventually called an end to the one-sided bout.
Foreman was sometimes characterized by the media as an aloof and antisocial champion. According to them, he always seemed to wear a sneer and was not often available to the press. Foreman would later attribute his demeanor during this time as an emulation of Sonny Liston, for whom he had been an occasional sparring partner.
Nevertheless, Foreman went on to defend his title successfully twice during his initial reign as champion. His first defense, in Tokyo, pitted him against Puerto Rican heavyweight champion José Roman. Roman was not regarded as a top contender, and it took Foreman only 2 minutes to end the fight, one of the fastest knockouts in a heavyweight championship bout.
 Title defense versus Ken NortonForeman’s next defense was against a much tougher opponent. In 1974, in Caracas, Venezuela, he faced the highly regarded hall-of-famer Ken Norton who was 30–2, a boxer notorious for his awkward crossed-arm boxing style with crab-like defense plus heavy punch (a style Foreman would emulate in his second comeback), who had broken the jaw of Muhammad Ali while defeating Ali on points a year earlier. Norton had a good chin, never in trouble as such against Ali in two matches. He’d nearly won the second. Although nerves were known to make his determination suspect at times against really heavy hitters. But in an astonishing display of controlled aggression and punching power, Foreman picked his moment after staying out of range of a long offense and decked Ken with more or less his first real big punch he threw near the end of the first round. Norton rose on wobbly legs but clearly wasn’t recovered for round two whereby he was down three times and stopped. “Ken was awesome when he got going. I didn’t want him to get into the fight,” George said when interviewed years later.
George had cruised past two of the top names in the rankings. The stunning win made Foreman an impressive 40–0 with 37 knockouts.
 “Rumble in the Jungle”Main article: The Rumble in the Jungle
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Foreman’s next title defense, against Muhammad Ali, was historic. During the summer of 1974, Foreman traveled to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to defend his title against Ali. The bout was promoted as The Rumble in the Jungle.
During training in Zaire, Foreman suffered a cut above his eye, forcing postponement of the match for a month. The injury affected Foreman’s training regimen, as it meant he couldn’t spar in the build-up to the fight and risk the cut being re-opened. He later commented: “That was the best thing that happened to Ali when we were in Africa—the fact that I had to get ready for the fight without being able to box.” Foreman would later also claim he was drugged by his trainer prior to the bout. Ali used this time to tour Zaire, endearing himself to the public while taunting Foreman at every opportunity. Foreman was favored, having knocked out both Joe Frazier and Ken Norton within two rounds.
When Foreman and Ali finally met in the ring, Ali began more aggressively than expected, outscoring Foreman with superior punching speed. However, he quickly realized that this approach required him to move much more than Foreman and would cause him to tire. In the second round, Ali retreated to the ropes, shielding his head and hitting Foreman in the face at every opportunity. Foreman dug vicious body punches into Ali’s sides; however, Foreman was unable to land many big punches to Ali’s head. The ring ropes, being much looser than usual (Foreman would later charge that Angelo Dundee had loosened them), allowed Ali to lean back and away from Foreman’s wild swings and then grab Foreman behind the head, forcing Foreman to expend much extra energy untangling himself. Ali also constantly pushed down on Foreman’s neck, but was never warned about doing so. To this day, it is unclear whether Ali’s pre-fight talk of using speed and movement against Foreman had been just a diversionary tactic, or whether his use of what became known as the “Rope-a-dope” tactic was an improvisation necessitated by Foreman’s constant pressure.
In either case, Ali was able to occasionally counter off the ropes with blows to the face, and was able to penetrate Foreman’s defense. Ali continued to take heavy punishment to the body, and occasionally a hard jolt to the head. Ali would later say he was “out on his feet” twice during the bout. Eventually, Foreman began to tire and his punches became increasingly wild, losing power in the process. An increasingly confident Ali taunted Foreman throughout the bout. Late in the eighth round, Foreman was left off balance by a haymaker and Ali sprang off the ropes with a flurry to Foreman’s head, punctuated by a hard right cross that landed flush on Foreman’s jaw putting Foreman down for the first time in his career. He managed to regain his feet by the count of 8 but the fight was nonetheless waved off by the referee.. It was Foreman’s first defeat, and Muhammad Ali remains the only boxer ever to defeat him by knockout.
Foreman would later reflect that “it just wasn’t my night.” Though he sought one, he was unable to secure a rematch with Ali. It has been suggested in some quarters that Ali was ducking Foreman, as had rematches Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, and also fought low ranked opponents such as Chuck Wepner, Richard Dunn and Jean Pierre Coopman. Ali on the other hand would never commit to a rematch, preferring to talk about retirement or make fights with lowly ranked fighters like Richard Dunn or Alfredo Evaneglista.
 First comebackForeman remained inactive during 1975. In 1976, he announced a comeback and stated his intention of securing a rematch with Ali. His first opponent was to be Ron Lyle, who had been defeated by Muhammad Ali in 1975, via 11-th round TKO. At the end of the first round, Lyle landed a hard left that sent Foreman staggering across the ring. In the second round, Foreman pounded Lyle against the ropes and might have scored a KO, but due to a timekeeping error the bell rang with a minute still remaining in the round, and Lyle survived. In the third, Foreman pressed forward, with Lyle waiting to counter off the ropes. In the fourth, a brutal slugfest erupted. A cluster of power punches from Lyle sent Foreman to the canvas. When Foreman got up, Lyle staggered him again, but just as Foreman seemed finished he retaliated with a hard right to the side of the head, knocking down Lyle. Lyle beat the count, then landed another brutal combination, knocking Foreman down for the second time. Again, Foreman beat the count. Foreman said later that he had never been hit so hard in a fight and remembered looking down at the canvas and seeing blood. In the fifth round, both fighters continued to ignore defense and traded their hardest punches looking crude. Each man staggered the other and each seemed almost out on his feet. Then, as if finally tired, Lyle stopped punching and Foreman delivered a dozen unanswered blows until Lyle collapsed. Lyle remained on the canvas and was counted out giving Foreman the KO victory. The fight was named by The Ring as “The Fight Of The Year.”
For his next bout, Foreman chose to face Joe Frazier in a rematch. Because of the one-sided Foreman victory in their first fight, and the fact that Frazier had taken a tremendous amount of punishment from Ali in Manila a year earlier, few expected him to win. Frazier at this point was 32–3 and Foreman was 41–1. Surprisingly, the 2nd Foreman-Frazier fight was fairly competitive for its duration, as Frazier used quick head movements to make Foreman miss with his hardest punches. Frazier’s health was deteriorating at this point and was wearing a contact lens for his vision which was knocked loose during the bout. After being unable to mount a significant offense, however, Frazier was eventually floored twice by Foreman in the fifth round and the fight was stopped. Next, Foreman knocked out Scott Ledoux in three and Dino Dennis in four to finish the year.
 Retirement and rebirth1977 would prove to be a life changing year for Foreman. After knocking out Pedro Agosto in four rounds at Pensacola, Florida, Foreman flew to Puerto Rico a day before the fight without giving himself time to acclimatise. His opponent was the skilled boxer Jimmy Young, who had beaten Ron Lyle and lost a very controversial decision to Muhammad Ali the previous year. Foreman fought cautiously early on, allowing Young to settle into the fight. Young constantly complained about Foreman pushing him, for which Foreman eventually had a point deducted by the referee, although Young was never warned for his persistent holding. Foreman badly hurt Young in round 7 but was unable to land a finishing blow. Foreman tired during the second half of the fight and even suffered a flash knockdown in round 12 en route to losing a decision.
Foreman became ill in his dressing room after the fight. He was suffering from exhaustion and heatstroke and believed he had a near death experience. He claimed he found himself in a hellish, frightening place of nothingness and despair. He began to plead with God to help him. He explained that he sensed God asking him to change his life and ways. After this experience, Foreman became a born-again Christian, dedicating his life for the next decade to God. Although he did not formally retire from boxing, Foreman stopped fighting, became an ordained minister of a church in Houston, Texas, and devoted himself to his family and his congregation. He also opened a youth center that bears his name. Foreman continues to share his conversion experience on Christian television broadcasts such as The 700 Club and the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and would later joke that Young had knocked the devil out of him.
 Second comebackIn 1987, after 10 years away from the ring, Foreman surprised the boxing world by announcing a comeback at the age of 38. In his autobiography he stated that his primary motive was to raise money to fund the youth center he had created. His stated ambition was to fight Mike Tyson. For his first fight, he went to Sacramento, California, where he beat journeyman Steve Zouski by a knockout in four rounds. Foreman weighed 267 lb (121 kg) for the fight, and looked badly out of shape. Although many thought his decision to return to the ring was a mistake, Foreman countered that he had returned to prove that age was not a barrier to people achieving their goals (as he would say later, he wanted to show that age 40 is not a “death sentence”). He won four more bouts that year, gradually slimming down and improving his fitness. In 1988, he won nine times. Perhaps his most notable win during this period was a seventh round knockout of former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
Having always been a deliberate fighter, Foreman had not lost much mobility in the ring since his first “retirement”, although he found it harder to keep his balance after throwing big punches and could no longer throw rapid combinations. He was still capable of landing heavy, single blows, however. Ironically, the late-rounds fatigue that had plagued him in the ring as a young man now seemed to be gone, and he could comfortably compete for 12 rounds. Foreman attributed this to his new, relaxed fighting style (he has spoken of how, earlier in his career, his lack of stamina came from an enormous amount of nervous tension).
By 1989, while continuing his comeback, Foreman had sold his name and face for the advertising of various products, selling everything from grills to mufflers on TV. For this purpose his public persona was reinvented and the formerly aloof, ominous Foreman had been replaced by a smiling, friendly George. He and Ali had become friends, and he followed in Ali’s footsteps by making himself a celebrity outside the boundaries of boxing.
Foreman continued his string of victories, winning five more fights, the most impressive being a three-round win over Bert Cooper, who would go on to contest the undisputed heavyweight title against Evander Holyfield.
In 1990, Foreman met former title challenger Gerry Cooney in Atlantic City. Cooney was coming off a long period of inactivity, but was well regarded for his punching power. Cooney wobbled Foreman in the first round, but Foreman landed several powerful punches in the second round. Cooney was knocked down twice, and Foreman had scored a devastating KO. Foreman went on to win four more fights that year.
Then, in 1991, Foreman was given the opportunity to challenge undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who was in tremendous shape at 208 pounds, for the world title in a Pay Per View boxing event. Very few boxing experts gave the 42-year-old Foreman a chance of winning. Foreman, who weighed in at 257 pounds, began the contest by marching forward, absorbing several of Holyfield’s best combinations and occasionally landing a powerful swing of his own. Holyfield proved too tough and agile to knock down, and was well ahead on points throughout the fight, but Foreman surprised many by lasting the full 12 rounds, losing his challenge on points. Round 7, in which Foreman knocked Holyfield off balance before being staggered by a powerful combination, was Ring Magazine’s “Round of the Year.”
A year later, Foreman fought journeyman Alex Stewart, who had previously been stopped in the first round by Mike Tyson. Foreman knocked down Stewart twice in the second round, but expended a lot of energy in doing so. He subsequently tired, and Stewart rebounded. By the end of the 10th and final round, Foreman’s face was bloodied and swollen, but the judges awarded him a majority decision win.
In 1993, Foreman received another title shot, although this was for the vacant WBO championship, which most fans at the time saw as a second-tier version of the “real” heavyweight title, then being contested between Holyfield and Riddick Bowe. Foreman’s opponent was Tommy Morrison, a young prospect known for his punching power. To the frustration of Foreman, and the disappointment of the booing crowd, Morrison retreated throughout the fight, refusing to trade toe-to-toe, and sometimes even turned his back on Foreman. The strategy paid off, however, as he outboxed Foreman from long range. Foreman was competitive throughout the match, but after 12 rounds Morrison won a unanimous decision. Though it seemed unlikely at the time, one more chance at the legitimate heavyweight crown was just around the corner for Foreman.
 Regaining the TitleIn 1994, Foreman once again sought to challenge for the world championship after Michael Moorer had beaten Holyfield for the IBF and WBA titles.
Having lost his last fight against Morrison, Foreman was unranked and in no position to demand another title shot. However, his relatively high profile made a title defense against Foreman, who was 19 years older than Moorer, a lucrative prospect at seemingly little risk for champion Moorer.
Foreman’s title challenge against Moorer took place on November 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Foreman wearing the same red trunks he had worn in his title loss to Ali 20 years earlier. This time, however, Foreman was a substantial underdog. For nine rounds, Moorer easily outboxed him, hitting and moving away, while Foreman chugged forward, seemingly unable to “pull the trigger” on his punches. Entering the tenth round, Foreman was trailing on all scorecards. However, Foreman launched a comeback in the tenth round, and hit Moorer with a number of punches. Then a short right hand caught Moorer on the tip of his chin, gashing open his bottom lip, and he collapsed to the canvas. He lay flat on his back as the referee counted him out.
In an instant, Foreman had regained the title he had lost to Muhammad Ali two decades before. He went back to his corner and knelt in prayer as the arena erupted in cheers. With this historic victory, Foreman broke three records: he became, at age 45, the oldest fighter ever to win the world heavyweight crown; and, 20 years after losing his title for the first time, he broke the record for the fighter with the longest interval between his first and second world championships. The age spread of 19 years between the champion and challenger was also the largest of any heavweight boxing championship fight.
Shortly after the Moorer fight, Foreman began talking about a potential superfight against Mike Tyson (the youngest ever heavyweight champ). The WBA organization, however, demanded he fight their No. 1 challenger, who at the time was the competent but aging Tony Tucker. For reasons not clearly known, Foreman refused to fight Tucker, and allowed the WBA to strip him of that belt. He then went on to fight mid-level prospect Axel Schulz of Germany in defense of his remaining IBF title. Schulz was a major underdog. Schulz jabbed strongly from long range, and grew increasingly confident as the fight progressed. Foreman finished the fight with a swelling over one eye, but was awarded a controversial majority decision (two judges scored for Foreman, one called it even). The IBF ordered an immediate rematch to be held in Germany, but Foreman refused the terms and found himself stripped of his remaining title. However, Foreman continued to be recognized as the lineal heavyweight champion.
In 1996, Foreman returned to Tokyo, scoring an easy win over the unrated Crawford Grimsley by a 12-round decision. In 1997, he faced contender Lou Savarese, winning a close decision in a grueling, competitive encounter. Then, yet another opportunity came Foreman’s way as the WBC decided to match him against Shannon Briggs in a 1997 “eliminator bout” for the right to face WBC champion Lennox Lewis. After 12 rounds, in which Foreman consistently rocked Briggs with power punches, almost everyone at ringside saw Foreman as the clear winner. Once again there was a controversial decision—but this time it went in favor of Foreman’s opponent, with Briggs awarded a points win. Foreman had fought for the last time, at the age of 48.
 Second retirementForeman was gracious and philosophical in his loss to Briggs, but announced his “final” retirement shortly afterward. However, he did plan a return bout against Larry Holmes in 1999, scheduled to take place at the Houston Astrodome on pay per view. The fight was to be billed as “The Birthday Bash” due to both fighters’ upcoming birthdays. Foreman was set to make $10 million and Holmes was to make $4 million, but negotiations fell through and the fight was cancelled. With a continuing affinity for the sport, Foreman became a respected boxing analyst for HBO.
Foreman said he had no plans to resume his career as a boxer, but then announced in February 2004 that he was training for one more comeback fight to demonstrate that the age of 55, like 40, is not a “death sentence.” The bout, against an unspecified opponent (rumored to be the now late Trevor Berbick), never materialized (it was widely thought that Foreman’s wife had been a major factor in the change of plans). Having severed his relationship with HBO to pursue other opportunities, George Foreman and the sport of boxing finally went their separate ways.
Foreman speaking in Houston, Texas in September 2009Foreman has 11 children, and each of his five sons is named George: George Jr., George III, George IV, George V, and George VI. His four younger sons are distinguished from one another by the nicknames “Monk”, “Big Wheel”, “Red”, and “Little Joey”. Also of issue in his marriage are two daughters named Natalia and Leola. He also has three daughters from a separate relationship: Michi, Freeda, and Georgetta. He also adopted a daughter, Isabella Brandie Lilja (Foreman), in 2009.
 EntrepreneurshipWhen Foreman came back from retirement he argued that his success was due to his healthy eating which made him a perfect fit for Russell Hobbs Inc. who were looking for a spokesperson for their fat-reducing grill.
The George Foreman grill has resulted in sales of over 100 million units since it was first launched, a feat that was achieved in a little over 15 years. Although Foreman has never confirmed exactly how much he has earned from the endorsement, what is known is that Salton Inc paid him $137 million in 1999 in order to buy out the right to use his name. Previous to that he was being paid about 40% of the profits on each grill sold (earning him $4.5 million a month in payouts at its peak) so it is estimated he has made a total of over $200 million from the endorsement, a sum that is substantially more than he earned as a boxer
Floyd Joy Mayweather, Jr. (born Floyd Sinclair; February 24, 1977) is an American professional boxer. He is a five-division world champion, where he has won seven world titles, as well as the lineal championship in three different weight classes. He is a two-time The Ring “Fighter of the Year” winning the award in 1998 and 2007, and also won the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) “Fighter of the Year” award in 2007. He is undefeated as a professional boxer.
Currently, Mayweather is the WBC welterweight champion. He is also rated as the best pound for pound boxer in the world by most sporting news and boxing websites, including Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Fox Sports, Yahoo! Sports and About.com.
Early lifeMayweather was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., into a family of boxers. His father Floyd Mayweather Sr. was a former welterweight contender who fought Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard and his uncles Jeff Mayweather and Roger Mayweather were all professional boxers, with Roger – Floyd’s current trainer – winning two world championships. Mayweather was born with his mother’s last name, but his last name would change to Mayweather shortly thereafter. Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr., had a side job – selling drugs. According to Mayweather Jr., his father was often a harsh disciplinarian. Mayweather says that when he was a baby, his father used him as a shield to keep his brother-in-law from shooting him. “It depends on which side of the family you talk to,” Mayweather Jr. says. “My father said he was holding me and he said, ‘If you’re going to shoot me, you’re going to shoot the baby, too.’ But my mother said he used me as a shield to keep from getting shot. “Either way, I’m just happy I didn’t get shot and I’m still here.”
Boxing has been a part of Mayweather’s life since his childhood. He never seriously considered any other profession. “I think my grandmother saw my potential first,” Mayweather said, smiling. “When I was young, I told her, ‘I think I should get a job.’ She said, ‘No, just keep boxing.’ “”When I was about 8 or 9, I lived in New Jersey with my mother and we were seven deep in one bedroom and sometimes we didn’t have electricity”, Mayweather says. “When people see what I have now, they have no idea of where I came from and how I didn’t have anything growing up.”
It was not uncommon for young Floyd to come home from school and find used heroin needles in his front yard. His mother was also addicted to drugs and he had an aunt who died from AIDS because of her drug use. “People don’t know the hell I’ve been through,” he says.
The most time that his father spent with him was taking him to the gym to train and work on his boxing, according to Mayweather. “I don’t remember him ever taking me anywhere or doing anything that a father would do with a son, going to the park or to the movies or to get ice cream”, he says. “I always thought that he liked his daughter (Floyd’s older stepsister) better than he liked me because she never got whippings and I got whippings all the time.”
Floyd Sr. says Mayweather is not telling the truth about their early relationship. “Even though his daddy did sell drugs, I didn’t deprive my son,” Floyd Sr. says. “The drugs I sold he was a part of it. He had plenty of food. He had the best clothes and I gave him money. He didn’t want for anything. Anybody in Grand Rapids can tell you that I took care of my kids.”
Floyd Sr. says he did all of his hustling at night and spent his days with his son, taking him to the gym and training him to be a boxer. “If it wasn’t for me he wouldn’t be where he is today,” Floyd Sr. says.
“I basically raised myself,” Mayweather says. “My grandmother did what she could. When she got mad at me I’d go to my mom’s house. My life was ups and downs.” Floyd Sr. says he knows how much pain his incarceration caused his son, but insists he did the best he could. “I sent him to live with his grandmother,” he says. “It wasn’t like I left him with strangers.”
Boxing became Mayweather’s outlet – a way to deal with the absence of his father. As his father served his time, Mayweather, with speed and an uncanny ring sense, put all his energies into boxing. He even dropped out of high school. “I knew that I was going to have to try to take care of my mom and I made the decision that school wasn’t that important at the time and I was going to have to box to earn a living,” Mayweather says.
Amateur career and OlympicsMayweather had an amateur record of 84–6 and won national Golden Gloves championships in 1993 (at 106 lb), 1994 (at 114 lb), and 1996 (at 125 lb). He was given the nickname “Pretty Boy” by his amateur teammates because he had relatively few scars, a result of the defensive techniques that his father (Floyd Mayweather, Sr.) and uncle (Roger Mayweather) had taught him. In his orthodox defensive stance, Mayweather often utilizes the ‘shoulder roll’. The shoulder roll is an old-school boxing technique in which the right hand is held normally or slightly higher than normal, the left hand is down around the midsection, and the lead shoulder is raised high on the cheek in order to cover the chin and block punches. The right hand (from orthodox stance) is used as it normally would be to block punches coming from the other side, such as left hooks. From this stance, Mayweather blocks, slips, and deflects most of his opponents’ punches, even when cornered, by twisting left and right to the rhythm of their punches.
At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Mayweather won a bronze medal by reaching the semi-finals of the featherweight (57 kg) division.
In the opening round, Mayweather led 10–1 on points over Bakhtiyar Tileganov of Kazakhstan before he won in Round 2 by referee stoppage. In the second round, Mayweather outpointed Artur Gevorgyan of Armenia 16–3. In the quarterfinals, the 19-year-old Mayweather, narrowly defeated the 22-year-old, Lorenzo Aragon of Cuba in an all-action bout to win 12–11, becoming the first U.S boxer to defeat a Cuban in 20 years. The last time this had occurred was at 1976 Summer Olympics when the U.S Olympic boxing team captured five gold medals, among its recipients was boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard. In his semifinal bout against the eventual silver medalist, Serafim Todorov of Bulgaria, Mayweather lost by a controversial decision similarly to the Roy Jones Jr.’s decision. Referee, Hamad Hafaz Shouman of Egypt, mistakenly raised Mayweather’s hand, thinking he had won, as the decision was announced giving the bout to the Bulgarian.
The U.S team filed a protest over the Mayweather bout, claiming the judges were intimated by Bulgaria’s Emil Jetchev, head of the boxing officials, into favoring Bulgarian Serafim Todorov by a 10-9 decision in the 125-pound semifinal bout. Three of Jetchev’s countrymen were in gold medal bouts. Judge Bill Waeckerle, one of the four U.S judges working the games for the International Amateur Boxing Federation, quit both as an Olympic judge and as a federation judge after Mayweather lost a decision loudly booed by the crowd at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
“I refuse to be part of an organisation that continues to conduct its officiating in this manner,” Waeckerle wrote in a letter of resignation to federation President Anwar Chowdhry.
In the official protest, U.S team manager Gerald Smith said Mayweather landed punches that were not counted, while Todorov was given points without landing a punch. “The judging was totally incompetent,” Waeckerle said. The judges failed to impose a mandatory two-point deduction against Todorov after he was warned five times by the referee for slapping.
“Everybody knows Floyd Mayweather is the gold-medal favorite at 57 kilograms,” Mayweather said afterward. “In America, it’s known as 125 pounds. You know and I know I wasn’t getting hit. They say he’s the world champion. Now you all know who the real world champion is.”
Evander Holyfield (born October 19, 1962) is a professional boxer from the United States. He is a former undisputed world champion in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions, earning him the nickname “The Real Deal”. After winning the bronze medal in the Light Heavyweight division at the 1984 Summer Olympics, he debuted as a professional at the age of 21.
Holyfield moved to the cruiserweight division in 1985 and won his first title the following year, when he defeated Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA cruiserweight belt. He would then go on to defeat Ricky Parkey and Carlos De Leon to win the Lineal, IBF and WBC titles, becoming the undisputed cruiserweight champion. Holyfield moved up to heavyweight in 1988, defeating Buster Douglas for the Lineal, WBC, WBA, and IBF titles in 1990.
Evander Holyfield holds other notable victories over fighters such as; George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer, Mike Tyson (x2), Michael Moorer, John Ruiz, Michael Dokes and Hasim Rahman. Holyfield is the only 4-time World Heavyweight champion, winning the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles in 1990, the WBA and IBF titles in 1993 and the WBA title in 1996 and 2000.
Holyfield moved up to heavyweight in 1988, winning his first six fights, all by stoppage. On October 25, 1990, Holyfield knocked out heavyweight champion James “Buster” Douglas, to claim the WBC, WBA, & IBF heavyweight belts (undisputed world heavyweight championship). He retained the Heavyweight crown three times, which included victories over former champions George Foreman and Larry Holmes, before suffering his first professional loss to Riddick Bowe on November 13, 1992. Holyfield regained the title in a rematch one year later, beating Bowe by majority decision for the WBA and IBF titles. Holyfield later lost the titles to Michael Moorer on April 22, 1994, by Majority Decision.
Holyfield was forced to retire in 1994, only to return a year later. On November 9, 1996, he went on to defeat Mike Tyson by eleventh round technical knockout to win the WBA title, in what was named fight of the year and upset of the year for 1996 by The Ring magazine. Evander Holyfield became the first Heavyweight since Muhammad Ali to win the World title three times. Seven months later, Holyfield won the 1997 rematch against Tyson, when the latter was disqualified in round three for biting off part of Holyfield’s ear. During his reign as champion, he also avenged his loss to Michael Moorer, when he stopped him in eight rounds to win the IBF belt.
In 1999, he faced Lennox Lewis in a split draw, but was defeated in a rematch eight months later. The following year, he won a unanimous decision over John Ruiz for the vacant WBA heavyweight championship, becoming the first boxer to win a version of the heavyweight title four times. Holyfield would lose a rematch with Ruiz seven months later and would face him for the third time in a draw.
Holyfield is still an active Boxer as of 2011 and has a professional record of 44 wins, 10 losses, 1 draw and 1 no contest. He is ranked #77 on Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. Evander Holyfield is ranked as the Greatest Cruiserweight of all time by The Boxing Scene. and is considered one of the greatest Heavyweights of all time by many.
Early life Evander Holyfield was born on October 19, 1962, in the mill town of Atmore, Alabama. The youngest of nine children, Holyfield and his family moved to Atlanta in the summer of 1964, at the age of two. He began boxing at age 12 and won the Boys Club boxing tournament. At 13, he qualified to compete in his first Junior Olympics. By age 15, Holyfield became the Southeastern Regional Champion, winning this tournament and the Best Boxer Award. By 1984 he had a record of 160 wins and 14 losses, with 76 KO.
Amateur medal record
Bronze 1984 Los Angeles Light Heavyweight
Pan American Games
Silver Caracas 1983 Light Heavyweight
When he was 20 years old, Holyfield represented the U.S. in the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, where he won a silver medal after losing to Cuban world champion Pablo Romero.
The following year, he was the National Golden Gloves Champion, and won a bronze medal in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California after a controversial disqualification in the second round of the semi-final against New Zealand’s Kevin Barry.
Professional careerLight-HeavyweightHolyfield started out professionally as a light heavyweight with a televised win in six rounds over Lionel Byarm at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 1984. On January 20, 1985 he won another six-round decision over Eric Winbush in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On March 13, he knocked out Fred Brown in the first round in Norfolk, Virginia, and on April 20, he knocked out Mark Rivera in two rounds in Corpus Christi, Texas.
CruiserweightBoth he and his next opponent, Tyrone Booze, moved up to the cruiserweight division for their fight on July 20, 1985 in Norfolk, Virginia. Holyfield won an eight-round decision over Booze. Evander went on to knock out Rick Myers in the first round on August 29 in Holyfield’s hometown of Atlanta. On October 30 in Atlantic City he knocked out opponent Jeff Meachem in five rounds, and his last fight for 1985 was against Anthony Davis on December 21 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He won by knocking out Davis in the fourth round.
He began 1986 with a knockout in three rounds over former world cruiserweight challenger Chisanda Mutti, and proceeded to beat Jessy Shelby and Terry Mims before being given a world title try by the WBA cruiserweight champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi. In what was called by The Ring as the best cruiserweight bout of the 1980s, Holyfield became world champion by defeating Qawi by a narrow 15 round split decision. He culminated 1986 with a trip to Paris, France, where he beat Mike Brothers by a knockout in three, in a non-title bout.
In 1987, he defended his title against former Olympic teammate and Gold medal winner Henry Tillman, who had beaten Mike Tyson twice as an amateur. He retained his belt, winning by seventh round knockout, and then went on to unify his WBA belt with the IBF belt held by Ricky Parkey, knocking Parkey out in three rounds. For his next bout, he returned to France, where he retained the title with an eleven round knockout against former world champion Ossie Ocasio. In his last fight of ’87, he offered Muhammad Qawi a rematch, and this time, he beat Qawi by a knockout in four.
1988 was another productive year for Holyfield; he started by becoming the first universally recognized world cruiserweight champion after defeating the Lineal & WBC champion Carlos De León at Las Vegas. The fight was stopped after eight rounds.
HeavyweightAfter that fight, he announced he was moving up in weight to pursue the world heavyweight crown held by Tyson. His first fight as a Heavyweight took place on July 16, when he beat former Tyson rival James “Quick” Tillis by a knockout in five, in Lake Tahoe, Nevada (Tillis had gone the distance with Tyson). For his third and final bout of ’88, he beat former world heavyweight champion Pinklon Thomas, also by knockout, in seven rounds.
Holyfield began 1989 meeting another former world heavyweight champion, Michael Dokes. This fight would also be named one of the best fights of the 1980s by Ring magazine, as best heavyweight bout of the 1980s. Holyfield won by a knockout in the tenth round, and then he met Brazilian champion Adilson Rodrigues, who lasted two rounds. His last fight of the 1980s was against Alex Stewart, a hard punching fringe contender. Stewart shocked Holyfield early, with quick, hard punches, but eventually fell in eight.
In 1990, Holyfield beat Seamus McDonagh, knocking him out in four rounds. By this time, Holyfield had been Ring Magazine’s Number 1 contender for two years and had yet to receive a shot at Tyson’s heavyweight title.
Undisputed Heavyweight Champion: 1990–1992Holyfield had been promised a title shot against Tyson in 1990. Before that fight could occur, in what many consider to be the biggest upset in boxing history, relatively unknown boxer, 29-year old, 231 lb. Buster Douglas defeated the 23-year old, 218 lb. Mike Tyson in ten rounds in Tokyo to become the new undisputed heavyweight champion. Instead of fighting Tyson, Holyfield would be Douglas’ first title defense.
They met on October 25, 1990. Douglas came into the fight at 246 lb. and offered little in the fight against Holyfield, who was in great shape at 208 lb. In the third round Douglas tried to start a combination with a big right uppercut. Holyfield countered with a straight right hand that was lightning quick, and Douglas went down for the count. Holyfield was the new undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. At the time of the knockout, Holyfield was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards, all seeing it 20–18 for Holyfield.
In his first defense, he beat former and future world champion George Foreman by unanimous decision in 12. The fight was billed as a “Battle for the Ages”, a reference to the age differential between the young undefeated champion (28 years old), and the much older George Foreman (42 years old). Holyfield weighed in at 208 pounds and Foreman weighed in at 257 pounds. Foreman lost the fight by a unanimous decision, but surprised many by lasting the whole 12 rounds against a much younger opponent, even staggering Holyfield a few times and knocking him off balance in the seventh round.
Then a deal was signed for him to defend his crown against Mike Tyson in November 1991. Tyson delayed the fight, claiming he was injured in training, but was then convicted for the rape of Desiree Washington and sentenced to six years in prison, so the fight did not happen at that time. They would fight in 1996 (Holyfield won by a TKO in 11) and a rematch in 1997 (Holyfield won by disqualification in 3, after Tyson bit both of his ears).
Holyfield made his next defense in Atlanta against Bert Cooper, who surprised him with a very good effort. Holyfield scored the first knockdown of the fight against Cooper with a powerful shot to the body, but Cooper returned the favor with a good right hand that sent Holyfield against the ropes; while not an actual knockdown, referee Mills Lane gave Holyfield a standing 8-count. Having suffered the first technical knockdown of his professional career, Holyfield regained his composure quickly and administered a beating that left Cooper still on his feet, but unable to defend himself. Holyfield landed brutal power shots, culminated by repeated vicious uppercuts that would snap Cooper’s head back. Referee Mills Lane stopped the bout in the seventh.
In his first fight of 1992, he faced former world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes, who was 42 years old, and had just pulled off an upset against Ray Mercer. During the bout, Holyfield suffered the first scar of his career with a gash opening up over his eye, the result of Holmes’ elbow. The fight ended with a unanimous decision in favor of Holyfield.
Holyfield-Bowe I & IIIn the beginning of a trilogy of bouts with the 25-year old Riddick Bowe, who had won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics, in the Super Heavyweight division, he suffered his first defeat when Bowe won the undisputed title by a 12-round unanimous decision in Las Vegas. Round Ten of that bout was named the Round of the Year by Ring Magazine. Holyfield was knocked down in round 11. He made the mistake of getting into a slugfest with the younger, bigger and stronger Bowe, leading to his defeat.
He began 1993 by beating Alex Stewart in a rematch, but this time over the 12-round unanimous distance.
Then came the rematch with Bowe on November 6, 1993. In what is considered by many sporting historians as one of the most bizarre moments in boxing’s history, during round seven the crowd got off their feet and many people started to run for cover and yell. Holyfield took his eyes off Bowe for one moment and then told Bowe to look up to the skies. What they saw was a man in a parachute flying dangerously close to them. The man almost entered the ring, but his parachute had gotten entangled in the lights, and he landed on the ropes and apron of the ring, and he was then pulled into the crowd, where he was beaten by members of Bowe’s entourage. Bowe’s pregnant wife, Judy, fainted and had to be taken to the hospital from the arena. Twenty minutes later, calm was restored and Holyfield went on to recover his world heavyweight titles with a close 12 round majority decision. The man who parachuted down to the middle of the ring became known as The Fan Man and the fight itself became known as the Fan Man Fight. His victory over Bowe that year helped Holyfield being named as ABC’s Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year for 1993.
Title loss to MoorerHis next fight, April 1994, he met former WBO light heavyweight and heavyweight champion of the world Michael Moorer, who was attempting to become the first southpaw to become the universally recognised world heavyweight champion. He dropped Moorer in round two, but lost a twelve round majority decision. When he went to the hospital to have his shoulder checked, he was diagnosed with a heart condition, and had to announce his retirement from boxing. It would later surface that the chairman of the medical advisory board for the Nevada State Athletic Commission believed his condition to be consistent with HGH use.
However, watching a television show hosted by preacher Benny Hinn, Holyfield says he felt his heart heal. He and Hinn subsequently became friends, and he became a frequent visitor to Hinn’s crusades. In fact, during this time, Holyfield went to a Benny Hinn crusade in Philadelphia, had Hinn lay hands on him, and gave Hinn a check for $265,000 after he was told he was healed. He then passed his next examination by the boxing commission. Holyfield would later state that his heart was misdiagnosed due to the morphine pumped into his body.
In 1995, Holyfield returned to the ring with a ten-round decision win versus former Olympic gold medalist, Ray Mercer. He was the first man to knock down Mercer.
Holyfield and Bowe then had their rubber match. Holyfield knocked Bowe down with a single left hook but Bowe prevailed by a knockout in eight. Holyfield would later claim that he contracted Hepatitis A before the fight.
Holyfield-Tyson fightsHolyfield vs. Tyson IMain articles: Tyson-Holyfield I and Holyfield-Tyson II
Poster publicizing the 28 June 1997, Holyfield-Tyson II fight, dubbed The Sound and The Fury1996 was a very good year for Holyfield. First, he met former world champion Bobby Czyz, beating him by a knockout in six. Then, he and Mike Tyson finally met.
Tyson had recovered the WBC and WBA heavyweight championship and, after being stripped of the WBC title for not facing Lennox Lewis, defended the WBA title against Holyfield on November 9 of that year. Tyson was heavily favored to win, but Holyfield made history by defeating Tyson in an 11th round TKO. This was the third occasion on which Holyfield won the WBA heavyweight title. However, the fight was not recognized as being for the linear heavyweight championship, which was held by George Foreman at the time. Muhammad Ali remains the only heavyweight champion to hold the linear championship three times.
Holyfield vs. Tyson II: The Bite FightHolyfield’s rematch with Tyson took place on June 28, 1997. Known as “The Bite Fight,” it would go into the annals of boxing as one of the most bizarre fights in history. The infamous incident occurred in the third round, when Tyson bit Holyfield on one of his ears and had two points deducted. Referee Mills Lane decided to disqualify Tyson initially, but after Holyfield and the ringside doctor intervened and said Holyfield could continue, he relented and allowed the fight to go on. However, Tyson went on to bite Holyfield again, this time on the other ear. Tyson, with his teeth, tore off the top of his ear, known as the helix, and spit the flesh out on the ring.
The immediate aftermath of the incident was greeted by instant bedlam. Tyson was disqualified and a melee ensued. Tyson claimed his bites were a retaliation to Holyfield’s unchecked headbutts, which had cut him in both fights. Others argued that Tyson, knowing he was on his way to another knockout loss, was looking for a way out of the fight. His former trainer, Teddy Atlas, had predicted that Tyson would get himself disqualified, calling Tyson “a very weak and flawed person.”
Avenging the Moorer defeatNext came another rematch, this time against Michael Moorer, who had recovered the IBF’s world title. Holyfield knocked Moorer to the canvas five times and referee Mitch Halpern stopped the fight between the eighth and ninth rounds under the advice of physician Flip Homansky. Holyfield once again unified his WBA belt with the IBF belt by avenging his defeat to Moorer.
In 1998 Holyfield had only one fight, making a mandatory defense against Vaughn Bean, who was defeated by decision at the Georgia Dome in the champion’s hometown. For the first time, Holyfield’s performance called into question whether age was diminishing his ability to continue as a championship fighter.
Holyfield-Lewis fightsHolyfield vs. Lewis IBy 1999, the public was clamoring for a unification bout versus the WBC’s world champion, Lennox Lewis of the United Kingdom. That bout happened in March of that year. The bout was declared a controversial draw after twelve rounds, where it appeared to most that Lewis dominated the fight. Holyfield claimed his performance was hindered by stomach and leg cramps. Holyfield and Lewis were ordered by the three leading organizations of which they were champions to have an immediate rematch.
Holyfield vs. Lewis IIThe second time around, in November of that year, Lewis became the undisputed champion by beating Holyfield via unanimous decision by three American judges. Holyfield said “I haven’t felt this good after a fight since I was a cruiserweight”, Holyfield said. “It makes me think I should have fought a little harder against Lennox. Maybe I’d be sore and sick, but I’d have the victory.”
Trilogy with John RuizIn 2000, Lewis was stripped of the WBA belt for failing to meet lightly regarded Don King fighter John Ruiz, having fought Ruiz’s conqueror David Tua, and the WBA ordered Holyfield and Ruiz to meet for that organization’s world title belt. Holyfield and Ruiz began their trilogy in August of that year, with Holyfield making history by winning on a controversial, but unanimous 12 round decision to become the first boxer in history to be the world’s heavyweight champion four times. Holyfield blamed his lackluster performance on a perforated (broken) eardrum.
Seven months later, in March 2001, it was Ruiz’s turn to make history at Holyfield’s expense when he surprisingly managed to knock Holyfield down and beat him by a 12 round decision to become the first Hispanic ever to win the world’s heavyweight title. On December 15 of that year, Holyfield challenged Ruiz for the title, in an attempt to become champion again. The fight was declared a draw, and John Ruiz maintained the WBA championship belt.
Holyfield vs. Byrd2002 began as a promising year for Holyfield: in June, he met former world heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, to determine who would face Lewis next. Holyfield was leading on two of the three scorecards when the fight was stopped in the eighth round due to a severe hematoma on Rahman’s forehead that was caused by a headbutt earlier in the fight. Holyfield was ahead, so he was declared the winner by a technical decision.
The IBF decided to strip Lewis of his belt after he didn’t want to fight Don King-promoted fighter Chris Byrd, instead going after Tyson, and declared that the winner of the fight between Holyfield and former WBO heavyweight champion Byrd would be recognized as their heavyweight champion. So, on December 14, 2002, Holyfield once again tried to become the first man ever to be heavyweight champion five times when he and Byrd met, but Byrd came out as the winner by a 12-round unanimous decision.
Consecutive losses & New York suspensionOn October 4, 2003, Holyfield lost to James Toney by TKO when his corner threw in the towel in the ninth round. At age 42, Holyfield returned to the ring to face Larry Donald on November 13, 2004. He lost his third consecutive match in a twelve round unanimous decision.
In August 2005 it had been reported that the New York State Athletic Commission had banned Evander Holyfield from boxing in New York due to “diminishing skills” despite the fact that Holyfield had passed a battery of medical tests.
ComebackHolyfield was initially criticized for his ongoing comeback; but he is adamant that his losses to Toney and Donald were the result of a shoulder injury, not of old age. Holyfield had looked better in his first four fights since Donald, and appeared to have answered the critics who say that he lacks the cutting edge and ability to follow up on crucial openings that he had in his youth.
Holyfield defeated Jeremy Bates by TKO on August 18, 2006 in a 10 round bout at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Holyfield dominated the fight which was stopped in the second round after he landed roughly twenty consecutive punches on Bates.
Holyfield defeated Fres Oquendo by unanimous decision on November 10, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas. Holyfield knocked Oquendo down in the first minute of the first round and continued to be the aggressor throughout the fight, winning a unanimous decision by scores of 116–111, and 114–113 twice.
On March 17, 2007, Holyfield defeated Vinny Maddalone by TKO when Maddalone’s corner threw in the towel to save their man from serious injury in the ring.
On June 30, 2007, Holyfield defeated Lou Savarese, knocking the bigger and heavier Savarese down in the fourth and again in the ninth round, en route to a unanimous decision win. This was Holyfield’s fourth win in ten months, two of them by KO. This victory finally set the stage for Holyfield’s title fight, against Sultan Ibragimov, for the WBO heavyweight title.
El Paso Texas, June 30, 2007 vs. Lou SavareseStill hungryHolyfield vs. IbragimovOn October 13, 2007, Holyfield was defeated by Sultan Ibragimov. Although unable to defy his critics by winning a fifth heavyweight title, Holyfield refused to be backed up by the young champion and even rattled him in the closing part of the 12th round. The fight was mostly uneventful, however, with neither fighter being truly staggered or knocked down. In most exchanges, Sultan was able to land two punches to Holyfield’s one. The end result was a unanimous decision for Ibragimov, with scores of 118–110, and 117–111 twice.
Holyfield vs. ValuevHe told BBC Scotland’s Sports Weekly “I’m gonna fight, be the heavyweight champion of the world one more time. Then I’m gonna write another book and tell everybody how I did it.” On December 20, 2008 he fought, at the Hallenstadion in Zürich Switzerland, the WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev for a paycheck of $600,000, the lowest amount he has ever received for a championship fight. At the weigh-in, he weighed 214 pounds, Valuev weighed a career low of 310 pounds.
Valuev defeated Holyfield by a highly controversial majority decision after a relatively uneventful bout. One judge scored the bout a draw 114–114, while the others had Valuev winning 116–112 and 115–114. Many analysts were outraged at the decision, thinking Holyfield had clearly won. There was talk of a rematch in 2009.
The WBA did their own investigation into the controversial decision; “As the World Boxing Association (WBA) always cares about and respects the fans’ and the media’s opinion, the Championship Committee has ordered a panel of judges to review the tape of the fight between Nikolai Valuev and Evander Holyfield, for the WBA heavyweight title”, read a statement from the WBA. The organization also expressed that they “will give a decision accordingly in the following weeks.” Many speculated that an immediate rematch would be the most likely scenario, but this never materialised. Valuev lost the WBA title in his next fight against British boxer David Haye.
Holyfield vs. BothaAfter the loss to Valuev, Holyfield took a period of inactivity. He reportedly agreed to fight South African boxer Francois Botha on January 16, 2010; it was agreed that the venue for the fight would be the Nelson Mandela Memorial Stadium in Kampala, Uganda. A few weeks before the fight, it was revealed that the bout would be postponed to February 20, 2010. The match was put in jeopardy due to economic disagreements but was later confirmed to be on April 10, 2010 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. When asked about his upcoming bout, the four-time world heavyweight champion said: “I’ve been hearing for a while that I can’t do it. All it does is light a fire under me to prove people wrong.” He also added: “I can still fight. I don’t want to leave until I’ve become the undisputed heavyweight champion one more time. That’s been my goal the entire time.” The American boxer scored an eighth round knockout of Botha.
Holyfield started slowly as usual in the early going. Botha held and hit Holyfield, and took the control of the fight for the first three rounds. However, the South African could not slow down Holyfield, though he did hurt him, and the American boxer slowly began to punch him more to take control of the bout in the later rounds. In the seventh round Holyfield stunned Botha and knocked him down in the eighth round. Though he beat the count, Holyfield cornered him and landed many punches that forced the referee Russell Mora to stop the bout. At the time of the stoppage, Holyfield was behind on two judges’ cards, 67–66, while the third judge had it 69–64 for the American boxer. Only 3,127 attended the fight.
Sherman “The Tank” WilliamsAfter the Botha fight, Holyfield said he was interested in fighting either Vitali Klitschko, the current WBC Champion, or his younger brother Wladimir Klitschko. Holyfield’s next bout against Sherman “The Tank” Williams on November 5, 2010 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan was then postponed twice before finally being rescheduled to January 22, 2011 and moved to The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Holyfield started the bout slowly and in the second round, he was cut in the left eye following an accidental clash of heads. In round three as he took several combinations. After the end of the round, Holyfield told his corner that he was unable to see due to the cut. Consequently, the bout was ruled a no contest.
The WBC has allegedly agreed to match Holyfield up with Vitali Klitschko after he gets through Williams and Nielsen.
“Super” Brian NielsenA fight with Brian Nielsen, the most popular Danish fighter in that country’s history, was scheduled for March 5, 2011 in Denmark, but needed to be postponed to May 7, 2011 due to a cut Holyfield received in the Williams fight.
The official weigh-in was held on Friday night in Denmark, with Holyfield at 225 pounds, while his opponent Nielsen, with his shorts on, weighed 238 pounds. It is to be noted that Nielsen had never been this light in his career. Neilson had said that although it would be mighty difficult for him to beat Holyfield, he promised it would not be one sided affair. Holyfield said that if he won he would move to next level and challenge for major titles.
Holyfield started the fight aggressively, pressing the 46-year-old Nielsen into the ropes and landing several hard jabs and hooks, knocking him down in the 3rd round. Despite getting a swollen eye in the 4th round, Nielsen kept on clowning to provoke Holyfield throughout the bout, prompting his trainer, Paul Duvill, to beg him to stop fooling around and focus on Holyfield. In round 10 Nielsen pushed a tired-looking Holyfield into the ropes with a series of combinations, before Holyfield turned it around. Holyfield pushed Nielsen into a corner and battered him with combinations until the referee stopped the contest.
It was a tough fight – he kept coming back, Holyfield said. He fought a very courageous fight.
Allegations of steroid and HGH useOn February 28, 2007, Holyfield was anonymously linked to Applied Pharmacy Services, a pharmacy in Alabama that is currently under investigation for supplying athletes with illegal steroids and human growth hormone (HGH). He denies ever using performance enhancers.
Holyfield’s name does not appear in the law enforcement documents reviewed. However, a patient by the name of “Evan Fields” caught investigators’ attention. “Fields” shares the same birth date as Holyfield—October 19, 1962. The listed address for “Fields” was 794 Evander, Fairfield, Ga. 30213. Holyfield has a very similar address. When the phone number that, according to the documents, was associated with the “Fields” prescription, was dialed, Holyfield answered.
On March 10, 2007 Holyfield made a public announcement that he would be pursuing his own investigation into the steroid claims in order to clear his name.
Holyfield was again linked to HGH in September 2007, when his name came up following a raid of Signature Pharmacy in Orlando, Florida. As of September 2007[update], Signature Pharmacy is under investigation for illegally supplying several professional athletes with steroids and HGH.
Life outside the ring
Holyfield at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2010.Holyfield is the younger brother of actor and dancer, Bernard Holyfield, and currently lives and trains in Fayette County, Georgia with his third wife Candi and their two children; he has at least eleven children.
By 1992, Holyfield was already a household name, announcing multiple products on television, such as Coca Cola and Diet Coke. He also had a video game released for the Sega Genesis and the Sega Game Gear: Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Boxing. After his conversion, he started professing his Christianity everywhere, reminding the public before and after his fights that he is a born-again Christian.
In 1996 Holyfield was given the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch when it was on its way to his hometown of Atlanta for that year’s Olympics. October 4 of this year he was married to Dr. Janice Itson, with whom he had one child.
He founded Real Deal Records which signed the briefly successful group Exhale.
On September 22, 2007 Holyfield released the Real Deal Grill cooking appliance via TV infomercials. The Real Deal Grill is manufactured by Cirtran Corp.
Holyfield’s popularity has led to numerous television appearances for the boxer. His first television show appearance was the Christmas special of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1990, playing himself. In 2005, Holyfield came in fifth place on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars with his partner Edyta Sliwinska. He also made an appearance on the original BBC Strictly Come Dancing “Champion of Champions” showdown, which featured the final four teams from the 2005 edition of the British series, plus two celebrities from spinoff versions, paired with British professional dancers, one featuring Holyfield paired with Karen Hardy, and Rachel Hunter paired with Brendan Cole. Holyfield also had minor roles in three movies during the 1990s, Summer of Sam, Necessary Roughness, and Blood Salvage (which he also produced). He made a guest appearance on Nickelodeon’s Nickelodeon GUTS during its third season in 1994. He appeared once in an episode of Phineas and Ferb. In the episode he is an animated character but the producers wanted to make the most of Holyfield’s ear, so his animated character was only given half an ear.
On August 13, 2007, Holyfield was confirmed to participate in a boxing match at World Wrestling Entertainment’s Saturday Night’s Main Event against Matt Hardy. He replaced Montel Vontavious Porter, who had to pull out after being legitimately diagnosed with a heart condition that was not part of a storyline.
In late 2007 and early 2008, Holyfield was among a number of celebrities to be doing television ads for the restaurant chain Zaxby’s.
In June 2008 a legal notice was placed by Washington Mutual Bank stating that Holyfield’s $10 million, 54,000-square-foot (5,000 m2), 109 room, 17 bathroom suburban Atlanta estate would be auctioned off on July 1, 2008 due to foreclosure, shortly before that bank’s insolvency. Adding to his financial problems, Toi Irvin, mother of his 10 year old son, filed suit for non-payment of two months child support (he pays $3,000 per month for this child). A Utah landscaping firm also has gone to court seeking $550,000 in unpaid debt for services. Holyfield appeared as himself in the 2011 remake of Arthur.
James “Buster” Douglas (born April 7, 1960) is a former undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion who scored a stunning upset when he knocked out previously undefeated champion Mike Tyson on February 11, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan. At the time, Tyson was considered to be the best boxer in the world and one of the most feared heavyweight champions in history due to his utter domination of the division. The Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, the only Las Vegas casino to make odds on the fight, had Douglas as a 42 to 1 underdog for the fight.
Douglas held the title for eight months and two weeks, losing on October 25, 1990, to 28-year-old, 6-foot-2-inch, 208-pound Evander Holyfield, via third-round KO, in his only title defense.
Growing upThe son of professional boxer William “Dynamite” Douglas, Douglas grew up in Columbus, Ohio, in the predominantly black Linden-area neighborhood, Windsor Terrace. He attended Linden McKinley High School where he played football and basketball, even leading Linden to a Class AAA state basketball championship in 1977. After high school, Douglas played basketball for the Coffeyville Community College Red Ravens in Coffeyville, Kansas from 1977 to 1978 where the seventeen year old was a 6 feet 0 inch Power forward. He is in the Coffeyville Red Ravens Men’s Basketball Hall of Fame.He also played basketball at Sinclair Community College from 1979 to 1980 in Dayton, Oh before he moved back to Columbus to focus on boxing.
Boxing careerDouglas made his debut on May 31, 1981 and defeated Dan O’Malley in a four round bout. He won his first five fights before coming into a fight with David Bey twenty pounds heavier than he usually did in his early fights. Bey knocked Douglas out in the second round to hand him his first defeat.
After six more fights, all wins, Douglas fought Steffen Tangstad to a draw on October 16, 1982. He was penalized two points during the course of the fight which proved to be the difference.
After the draw Douglas went on to beat largely journeyman fighters over the next fourteen months. Two of his wins were against Jesse Clark, who never won a fight in his career; Douglas fought him a total of three times and knocked him out all three times. In his last fight of 1983 Douglas was dominating opponent Mike White, only to lose the fight when White knocked him out in the ninth round.
On November 9, Douglas was scheduled to fight heavyweight contender Trevor Berbick in Las Vegas. Berbick pulled out of the bout three days before it was scheduled and Randall “Tex” Cobb elected to take the fight in Berbick’s place. Douglas defeated the former heavyweight contender by winning a majority decision. The next year he fought up and coming contender Jesse Ferguson, but was beaten by majority decision.
Douglas fought three times in 1986, defeating former champion Greg Page and fringe contender David Jaco in two of the fights. This earned him a shot at the International Boxing Federation championship that Michael Spinks was stripped of for refusing to defend it. Douglas did not perform well against Tony Tucker and was knocked out in ten rounds.
After the Tucker defeat Douglas won four consecutive fights and went on to fight Trevor Berbick in 1989, winning by a unanimous decision. He followed that up with a unanimous decision victory over future heavyweight champion Oliver McCall, and earned a shot at the undisputed heavyweight championship held by Mike Tyson, who became the universally recognized champion after knocking out Spinks in one round in 1988. (Douglas fought on the undercard of the event and defeated Mike Williams by TKO in seven rounds.)
Championship fight against Mike TysonMain article: Tyson vs. Douglas
The fight was scheduled for February 11, 1990 and took place in Tokyo at the Tokyo Dome. Almost everyone assumed that Douglas’ fight versus Mike Tyson was going to be another quick knockout for the champion. Only one betting parlor in Las Vegas would hold odds for the bout, and many thought it was just an easy tune-up for Tyson before a future mega-fight with undefeated Evander Holyfield, who had recently moved up to heavyweight from cruiserweight where he became the first boxer to be the undisputed champion of the weight class.
Douglas’ mother, Lula Pearl, died 23 days before the title bout. Douglas, who had trained hard, surprised the world by dominating the fight from the beginning, using his 12-inch reach advantage to perfection. He seemingly hit Tyson at will with powerful jabs and right hands and skillfully danced out of range of Tyson’s own punches. The champion had not taken Douglas seriously, expecting another quick and easy knockout victory. He was slow, refusing to move his head and slip his way in (his usual effective strategy) but rather setting his feet and throwing big, lunging hooks, repeatedly trying to beat Douglas with single punches. By the fifth round, Tyson’s left eye was swelling shut from Douglas’ many right hands, and ringside HBO announcers proclaimed it was the most punishment they had ever seen the champion absorb.
Tyson’s cornermen appeared to be unprepared for the suddenly dire situation. They had not brought an endswell to the fight, so they were forced to put tap water into a latex glove to hold over Tyson’s swelling eye. By the end of the fight, Tyson’s eye had swollen almost completely shut. In the eighth round, Tyson landed a right uppercut that knocked Douglas down. The referee’s count engendered controversy as Douglas was on his feet when the referee reached nine, although the official knockdown timekeeper was two seconds ahead. In the ring the final arbiter of the knockdown seconds is the referee and a comparison with Douglas’s winning knockdown count issued to Tyson two rounds later revealed that both fighters had received long counts.
Tyson came out aggressively in the dramatic ninth round and continued his attempts to end the fight with one big punch hoping that Douglas was still hurt from the 8th round knockdown. Both men traded punches before Douglas connected on a multi-punch combination that staggered Tyson back to the ropes. With Tyson hurt along the ropes Douglas unleashed a vicious attack to try to finish off a dazed Tyson but, amazingly, Tyson withstood the punishment and barely survived the 9th round. Douglas dominated the tenth round from the outset. While setting Tyson up with his jab Douglas scored a huge uppercut, followed by a rapid combination, and knocked Tyson down for the first time in his career, making boxing history. Tyson struggled to his knees and picked up his mouthpiece lying on the mat next to him. He awkwardly attempted to place it back into his mouth. The image of Tyson with the mouthpiece hanging crookedly from his lips would become an enduring image from the fight. He was unable to beat the referee’s count, and Douglas was the new heavyweight champion of the world. As Buster Douglas said in an interview years later ‘“I thought Tyson was getting up until I had seen him looking for that mouth piece and then I knew that he was really hurt. So anytime you know you only got ten seconds to get up so you aren’t going to worry about anything but just getting up first. So when I had seen him looking around for that mouth piece I knew he was really hurt.”
 After the upsetWhile still Champion, Douglas appeared on the February 23, 1990 episode of the World Wrestling Federation’s “WWF The Main Event”, as special guest referee for a rematch between Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. Originally, Mike Tyson was scheduled to be the guest referee, but following the upset, the WWF scrambled to sign on Douglas for the event. At the end of the match, Douglas was provoked into a ‘storyline’ punch and knockout of Savage, who was the ‘heel’ wrestler in the match.
The defeated Tyson clamored for a rematch and Douglas was offered more money than he had ever made before for a fight. Not wanting to deal with Tyson’s camp or his promoter Don King, Douglas decided to make his first defense against #1 contender Evander Holyfield, who had watched the new champion dethrone Tyson from ringside in Tokyo. Douglas came into the October 25, 1990 fight at 246 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than he was for the Tyson and also the heaviest he’d weighed in for a fight since a 1985 bout with Dion Simpson, in which he tipped the scale at. just over 247 pounds.
In the third round of the fight, Douglas attempted to hit Holyfield with a hard uppercut that he telegraphed. Holyfield avoided the uppercut and hit an off-balance Douglas with a straight right to the chin to knock him down. Douglas did not get up from the punch and lost his championship, electing to retire after the fight.
 Later careerDouglas vs Holyfield was a reported $24.6 million payday for Buster, though years later he said on the Howard Stern show he walked away with $1.5 million after taxes, managers, trainers, etc. In that same interview he said he received $1.3 million for the Tyson win, but for the same reasons netted $15,000. Doing little for the next several years, Buster gained weight, reaching nearly 400 pounds. It was only after Douglas nearly died during a diabetic coma that he decided to attempt a return to the sport. He went back into training and made a comeback. He was successful at first, winning 6 straight fights, but his comeback almost came to a halt in a 1997 disqualification win over journeyman Louis Monaco. In a bizarre ending, Monaco landed a right hand, just after the bell ending round one, that knocked Douglas to the canvas. Douglas was unable to continue after a five-minute rest period and was consequently awarded the win by disqualification (on account of Monaco’s illegal punch).
A fight with light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones, Jr. was touted in the late 1990s, although ultimately fell through. In 1998 Douglas was knocked out in the first round of a fight with heavyweight contender Lou Savarese. Douglas subsequently had two more fights, winning both, and retired in 1999 with a final record of 38-6-1.
 Film and gameDouglas made his feature film acting debut in the Artie Knapp science fiction comedy film Pluto’s Plight.
Douglas was the star of the video game James ‘Buster’ Douglas Knockout Boxing for the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis. (In reality, Sega took a pre-existing game, Final Blow, changed the name, and changed one of the character’s names to Douglas’). This game is considered as a response to Nintendo’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, especially since Tyson lost to Douglas, which Sega took advantage in order to promote their early “Genesis does what Nintendon’t” advertisements.
In 1995, HBO aired Tyson, a television movie based upon the life of Mike Tyson. Douglas was portrayed by actor Duane Davis.
Larry Holmes (born November 3, 1949) is a former professional boxer. He grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania, which gave birth to his boxing nickname, The Easton Assassin.
Holmes, whose left jab is considered one of the greatest weapons in the history of sports, was the WBC Heavyweight Champion from 1978 to 1983, The Ring Heavyweight Champion from 1980 to 1985, and the IBF Heavyweight Champion from 1983 to 1985. He made twenty successful title defenses, second only to Joe Louis’ twenty-five.
Holmes won his first forty-eight professional bouts, almost matching Rocky Marciano’s streak of 49 straight wins, including victories over Ken Norton, Muhammad Ali, Gerry Cooney, and Tim Witherspoon He is frequently ranked by many boxing experts as one of the greatest heavyweight fighters of all time.
Early lifeHolmes was the fourth of twelve children born to John and Flossie Holmes. When the family moved to Easton in 1954, Holmes’ father went to Connecticut, where he worked as a gardener until his death in 1970. He visited his family every three weeks. “He didn’t forsake us,” said Flossie Holmes. “He just didn’t have anything to give.” The family survived on welfare.
To help support his family, Holmes dropped out of school when he was in the seventh grade and went to work at a car wash for $1 an hour. He later drove a dump truck and worked in a quarry.
Amateur boxing careerWhen Holmes was nineteen, he started boxing. In his twenty-second bout, he boxed Duane Bobick in the 1972 Olympic Trials. Holmes was dropped in the first round with a right to the head. He got up and danced out of range, landing several stiff jabs in the process. Bobick mauled Holmes in the second round but couldn’t corner him. The referee warned Holmes twice in the second for holding. In the third, Bobick landed several good rights and started to corner Holmes, who continued to hold. Eventually, Holmes was disqualified for excessive holding. 
Early boxing careerAfter compiling an amateur record of 19-3, Holmes turned professional on March 21, 1973, winning a four-round decision against Rodell Dupree. Early in his career, he worked as a sparring partner for Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Earnie Shavers, and Jimmy Young. He was paid well and learned a lot. “I was young, and I didn’t know much. But I was holding my own sparring those guys,” Holmes said. “I thought, ‘hey, these guys are the best, the champs. If I can hold my own now, what about later?'”
Holmes first gained credibility as a contender when he upset the hard-punching Earnie Shavers in March 1978. Holmes won by a lopsided twelve-round unanimous decision, winning every round on two scorecards and all but one on the third. Holmes’s victory over Shavers set up a title shot between Holmes and WBC Heavyweight Champion Ken Norton in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 9, 1978.
WBC Heavyweight ChampionThe fight between Holmes and Norton was a tough, competitive fight. After fourteen rounds, all three judges had the fight scored dead even at seven rounds each. Holmes rallied late in the fifteenth to win the round on two scorecards and take the title by a split decision. 
In his first two title defenses, Holmes easily knocked out Alfredo Evangelista and Ossie Ocasio. His third title defense was a tough one. On June 22, 1979, Holmes faced future WBA Heavyweight Champion Mike Weaver, who was lightly regarded going into the fight sporting an uninspiring 19-8 record. After ten tough rounds, Holmes dropped Weaver with a right uppercut late in round eleven. In the twelfth, Holmes immediately went on the attack, backing Weaver into the ropes and pounding him with powerful rights until the referee stepped in and stopped it. “This man knocked the devil out of me,” Holmes said. “This man might not have had credit before tonight, but you’ll give it to him now.”
Three months later, on September 28, 1979, Holmes had a rematch with Shavers, who got a title shot by knocking out Ken Norton in one round. Holmes dominated the first six rounds, but in the seventh, Shavers sent Holmes down with a devastating overhand right. Holmes got up, survived the round, and went on to stop Shavers in the eleventh.
His next three defenses were knockouts of Lorenzo Zanon, Leroy Jones, and Scott LeDoux.
On October 2, 1980, at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Holmes defended his title against Ali, who was coming out of retirement in an attempt to become the first four-time World Heavyweight Champion. Holmes dominated Ali from start to finish, winning every round on every scorecard. At the end of the tenth round, Ali’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, stopped the fight. After the win, Holmes received recognition as World Heavyweight Champion by The Ring magazine.
Ali blamed his poor performance on thyroid medication that he had been taking, claiming that it helped him lose weight (he weighed 217½, his lowest weight since he fought George Foreman in 1974), but it also left him drained for the fight. When Ali officially announced his comeback a MAYO clinic physical was organized and a boxing license would only be granted if he passed. The tests included basic reflex analysis and challenged his hand eye co-ordination. Arguably the quickest and most skillful heavyweight in history being subjected to such tests might seem redundant but the results were shocking. Ali had difficulty touching the tip of his nose from distance, occasionally slurred his speech and did not “hop with the agility that was expected”.
After eight consecutive knockouts, Holmes was forced to go the distance when he successfully defended his title against future WBC Heavyweight Champion Trevor Berbick on April 11, 1981. In his next fight, two months later, Holmes knocked out former Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Leon Spinks in three rounds. On November 6, 1981, Holmes rose from a seventh-round knockdown (during which he staggered into the turnbuckle) to stop Renaldo Snipes in the eleventh.
Holmes vs. CooneyOn June 11, 1982, Holmes defended his title against Gerry Cooney, the undefeated #1 contender and an Irish-American. The lead up to the fight had many racial overtones. Holmes said that if Cooney wasn’t white, he wouldn’t be getting the same purse as the champion (Both boxers received $10 million for the bout). Although Cooney tried to deflect questions about race, members of his camp wore shirts that said “Not the White Man, but the Right Man.”
Many[who?] felt Holmes was unfairly slighted leading up to the fight. In their fight previews, Sports Illustrated and Time put Cooney on the cover, not Holmes. President Ronald Reagan had a phone installed in Cooney’s dressing room so he could call him if he won the fight. Holmes had no such arrangement. Lastly, boxing tradition dictates that the champion is introduced last, but the challenger, Cooney, was introduced last.
The bout was held in a 32,000 seat stadium erected in a Caesar’s Palace Parking lot, with millions more watching around the world. After an uneventful first round, Holmes dropped Cooney with a right in the second. Cooney came back well in the next two rounds, jarring Holmes with his powerful left hook. Holmes later said that Cooney “hit me so damned hard, I felt it – boom – in my bones.|
Cooney was tiring by the ninth, a round in which he had two points deducted for low blows. In the tenth, they traded punches relentlessly. At the end of the round, the two nodded to each other in respect.
Cooney lost another point because of low blows in the eleventh. By then, Holmes was landing with ease. In the thirteenth, a barrage of punches sent Cooney down. He got up, but his trainer, Victor Valle, stepped into the ring and stopped the fight.
After the fight, Holmes and Cooney would become close friends.
Trouble with the WBCHolmes’ next two fights were one-sided decision wins over Randall “Tex” Cobb and Lucien Rodriguez. On May 23, 1983, Holmes defended his title against Tim Witherspoon, the future WBC and WBA Heavyweight Champion. Witherspoon, a six to one underdog and with only 15 professional bouts to his name, surprised many by giving Holmes a difficult fight. After twelve rounds, Holmes retained the title by a disputed split decision. Boxing Monthly named it one of the ten most controversial decisions of all time.
On September 10, 1983, Holmes successfully defended the WBC title for the sixteenth time, knocking out Scott Frank in five rounds. Holmes then signed to fight Marvis Frazier, son of Joe Frazier, on November 25, 1983. The WBC refused to sanction the fight against the unranked Frazier. They ordered Holmes to fight Greg Page, the #1 contender, or be stripped of the title. Promoter Don King offered Holmes $2.55 million to fight Page, but the champion didn’t think that was enough. He was making $3.1 million to fight Frazier and felt he should get as much as $5 million to fight Page.
Holmes had an easy time with Frazier, knocking him out in the first round. The following month, Holmes relinquished the WBC championship and accepted recognition as World Heavyweight Champion by the newly formed International Boxing Federation.
IBF Heavyweight ChampionHolmes signed to fight Gerrie Coetzee, the WBA Champion, on June 15, 1984 at Caesar’s Palace. The fight was being promoted by JPD Inc., but it was canceled when Caesar’s Palace said the promoters failed to meet the financial conditions of the contract. Holmes was promised $13 million and Coetzee was promised $8 million. Even after cutting the purses dramatically, they still couldn’t come up with enough financial backing to stage the fight. Don King then planned to promote the fight, but Holmes lost a lawsuit filed by Virginia attorney Richard Hirschfeld, who said he had a contract with Holmes that gave him right of first refusal on a Holmes-Coetzee bout. Holmes then decided to move on and fight someone else.
On November 9, 1984, after a year out of the ring, Holmes made his first defense of the IBF title, stopping James “Bonecrusher” Smith on a cut in the twelfth round. In the first half of 1985, Holmes stopped David Bey in ten rounds for his 19th title defense. His next against Carl “The Truth” Williams was unexpectedly tough. The younger, quicker Williams was able to out-jab the aging champion, who was left with a badly swollen eye by the end of the bout. Holmes emerged with a close, and disputed, fifteen-round unanimous decision.
On September 21, 1985, Holmes lost the IBF title by a close fifteen-round unanimous decision to Michael Spinks, who became the first reigning World Light Heavyweight Champion to win the World Heavyweight Championship. If Holmes had been victorious against Spinks, he would have tied Rocky Marciano’s career record of 49-0. After the fight, a bitter Holmes said, “Rocky Marciano couldn’t carry my jockstrap.” Holmes received a lot of criticism for the remarks. Shortly afterward, he apologized.
Holmes had a rematch with Spinks on April 19, 1986. Spinks retained the title with a disputed fifteen-round split decision. The judges scored the fight: Judge Joe Cortez 144-141 (Holmes), Judge Frank Brunette 141-144 Spinks) and Judge Jerry Roth 142-144 (Spinks.) In a post-fight interview with HBO, Holmes said, “the judges, the referees and promoters can kiss me where the sun don’t shine – and because we’re on HBO, that’s my big black behind.”
On November 6, 1986, three days after his 37th birthday, Holmes announced his retirement.
 ComebacksOn January 22, 1988, Holmes was lured out of retirement by a $2.8 million purse to challenge reigning Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson. Tyson dropped Holmes in the fourth round with an overhand right. Holmes got up, but Tyson put him down two more times in the round, and the fight was stopped. It was the only time Holmes would be knocked out in his lengthy career. After the fight. Holmes once again retired.
Holmes returned to the ring in 1991. After five straight wins, he fought Ray Mercer, the undefeated 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist, on February 7, 1992. Holmes pulled off the upset and won by a twelve-round unanimous decision. The win got Holmes a shot at Evander Holyfield for the Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship. On June 19, 1992, Holyfield defeated Holmes by a twelve-round unanimous decision.
Holmes won seven consecutive fights and then got another title shot. On April 8, 1995, he fought Oliver McCall for the WBC title. Holmes lost by a close twelve-round unanimous decision. Two of the judges had him losing by only one point, while the other judge had him losing by three points.
On January 24, 1997, Holmes went to Denmark to fight Brian Nielsen, who was 31-0. Nielsen won by a twelve-round split decision to retain the International Boxing Organization title.
Holmes and George Foreman signed to fight on January 23, 1999 at the Houston Astrodome. Foreman called off the fight several weeks before it was to take place because the promoter failed to meet the deadline for paying him the remaining $9 million of his $10 million purse. Foreman received a nonrefundable $1 million deposit, and Holmes got to keep a $400,000 down payment of his $4 million purse.
Holmes’ next two fights were rematches with old foes. On June 18, 1999, he stopped Bonecrusher Smith in eight rounds, and on November 17, 2000, he stopped Mike Weaver in six.
Holmes in Beaufort, South Carolina in 2010.Holmes’ final fight was on July 27, 2002 in Norfolk, Virginia. He defeated Eric “Butterbean” Esch by a ten-round unanimous decision.
HonorsHolmes was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.
 Life after BoxingHolmes invested wisely the money he earned from boxing and happily put down lasting roots in his hometown of Easton. When he initially retired from boxing, Holmes employed more than 200 people through his various business holdings. In 2008, it was reported that he still owned two restaurants and a nightclub, a training facility, an office complex, a snack food bar and slot machines. Holmes currently co-hosts a talk show on Service Electric Cable 2 Sports called “What They Heck Were They Thinking?” The Show started in 2006 and is currently on its sixth season. His co-host on the show is long time announcing partner Mike Mittman. “What They Heck Were They Thinking?” airs Monday nights at 8:30pm on 2 sports