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Hoping time is on his side

Jeff Tully

Evander Holyfield has had his share of tough fights in nearly 14

years as a professional heavyweight boxer.

Fighters like Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, George Forman and Riddick

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Bowe have provided Holyfield with some challenging competition inside

the ring.

However, at age 40, Holyfield might be in the midst of battling

his toughest opponent -- time.

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Along with spending time in the gym staying in shape and keeping

his skills sharp, the four-time champion also finds himself battling

to convince the boxing world that he still has what it takes to

survive among the best fighters in the world.

On Tuesday, Holyfield was in Burbank for a press conference at

Arnie Morton’s Steakhouse to promote his Oct. 4 heavyweight bout with

three-time world champion James Toney.

The fight will be at 5 p.m. at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and

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will be available on pay per view.

Sprinkled among the usual boxing press-conference hype -- with

Toney doing most of the trash talking -- Holyfield (6 feet 2 1/2)

talked about his age and is convinced he is still a force to be

reckoned with.

“I know there are a lot of people who want to talk about my age

and say that I’m too old to still be boxing,” said Holyfield, who has

a 38-6-2 record with 25 knockouts. “I wouldn’t be out here still

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fighting if I couldn’t do it.

“Any time people have said that I’m too old, I’ve been able to

prove to them that I’m not.

“Age is just a number. More important than age is if you’re

willing to pay the price. I’m willing to pay the price.”

Holyfield has had a storied career in boxing.

He first came to the public’s attention in 1984 as an amateur in

the Los Angeles Olympics. He was given the bronze medal when the

referee awarded the decision to his opponent in a controversial call

in a semifinal bout.

He turned professional and in just his 12th fight on July 12,

1986, upset heavily favored Dwight Muhammad Qawi to win the World

Boxing Assn. cruiserweight championship.

Claiming the undisputed cruiserweight championship, Holyfield

moved up to the heavyweight ranks.

On Oct. 25, 1990, he defeated James “Buster” Douglas to win the

undisputed world heavyweight title.

One of Holyfield’s most famous fights came June 28, 1997, when he

met Tyson in a battle for the WBA crown. During the third round,

Tyson took a bite out of Holyfield’s right ear and was disqualified.

With all he has done in the sport, what motivates Holyfield to

continue fighting, and what does he still have to prove?

“I’m in this game because my goal is to be the undisputed

heavyweight champ of the world [again],” he said. “I have been saying

it, really since 1992, that is the ultimate goal.”

“The thing is that I want to be the five-time championship of the

world. I just want to be the very best that I can be and I feel

finishing on top is a big goal for me.”

If Toney has his way, Holyfield might just want to think about

retirement once he gets through with him.

“This is going to be [Holyfield’s] last fight,” Toney said. “I

plan to go out there and give him an good old [butt] whipping.

“I wish I could fight him today. I can’t wait to get into the ring

and get at it. Let’s go.”

Toney (5-11) comes into the fight with a 66-4-2 record with 42

knockouts. He is a former middleweight champion and is the current

International Boxing Federation cruiserweight champion.

Even with a loss to Toney, Holyfield said he doesn’t plan to quit

the fight game anytime soon.

“I really can’t put the end into any time frame,” he said. “As

long as I can go out there and still do it, I’ll be fighting.”

That could mean “Lights Out” for Toney.


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