Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield: The pros and cons of two legends potentially staging an exhibition fight
Tyson and Holyfield have worked their way back into tremendous shape, but is it worth the risk?
Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield are forever tied together for one of the most disgraceful actions in modern boxing history. After Holyfield won the first fight between the two in November 1996, Tyson was disqualified after biting both of Holyfield's ears in their June 1997 rematch. Now, a third fight between the two could possibly happen with both men in their 50s as a charity exhibition bout.
his own training video, closing with the same statement as Tyson, simply saying, "I'm back."for three or four round exhibition bouts for charity before releasing videos of intense training sessions. Holyfield, who had already been in discussions for his own exhibition return, followed that up with
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The timing and history of those videos have led many to assume a third Holyfield vs. Tyson bout could actually happen, even if just as an exhibition. The fight would likely draw massive attention and raise a considerable amount of money for charity, but does that make it a good idea?
Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the fight actually happening.
Pro: They want to do it -- While it hasn't been confirmed on Tyson's side that he absolutely wants to fight Holyfield in his exhibition return, he has reportedly turned down the idea of fighting New Zealand rugby star Sonny Bill Williams for $3 million and said he will only return against a "real boxer." Holyfield, on the other hand, has called a potential fight with Tyson a "win-win-win," though did say he was most interested in a fight with Riddick Bowe, another old rival.
But if the two heavyweight legends are interested in fighting and are medically fit to do so, then why not let it happen? Tyson broke down in tears on his podcast earlier this year, saying he now feels "empty" without being the fighter he once was. Why take away a chance to ease those feelings -- again, assuming both men are medically fit and the fight is safe?
Con: It might not be safe -- Tyson is 53 years old. Holyfield is 57. At their respective ages and with a lifetime of boxing in their past, it may well be unsafe for them to be on the receiving end of punches. The old line that "you don't play boxing" has been thrown around a lot as talk of the potential fight has amped up, and for good reason. You can't safely get punched in the head and there is a risk in every punch you take as a healthy person in the prime of their life. That risk, of course, increases as you age and the accumulated damage to your brain adds up.
Yes, there are very real safety concerns to allowing two men in their 50s to throw down, even over four exhibition rounds. That may be enough reason alone to shoot down an in-ring return for both men.
Pro: Both men look damn good for their age -- While it's easy to cut together footage to make anyone look impressive in a training camp, there's no denying that Tyson and Holyfield are in fantastic physical condition for their advanced ages. Tyson looked to still carry shocking power and speed, and Holyfield looked smooth in footage where he worked mitts in his camp. As far as a fight between men with a combined age of 110, there's potential for a decent amount of action. We've certainly seen fighters in worse physical shape take to the ring in recent years.
Con: It's not helping anyone's legacy -- It's easy to wrap yourself in nostalgia and only remember an athlete at their best. With that said, we can forget things like Holyfield desperately hanging on well past his expiration date in an attempt to win one last heavyweight championship and looking like a shell of himself. Similarly, it's easy to forget Tyson ending his career with losses to Danny Williams and Kevin McBride. Even if they look good for men their age, Holyfield and Tyson in 2020 are nothing like the all-time greats they were in their prime and an ugly fight wouldn't provide anything of worth for either man's legacy.
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