Evander Holyfield´s latest comeback fight has been postponed until February 20th . Holyfield was due to meet WBF heavyweight champion Franz Botha in Kampala, Uganda on January the 16th. The fight date has been put back to give the fighters and promoter more time to prepare for and promote the fight.
“We have realized that we need more time to publicize the event regionally and worldwide and also to give the fighters ample time to prepare themselves. I assure the world that the fight will take place.” said the fights promoter, Eddie Bazira.
The fight is due to take place in Kampala´s Nambole Stadium. Bazira is predicting an 80,000 capacity sell out. It is thought that Bazira is also hoping that the bout will attract some kind of pay-per view deal.
Former four time heavyweight champion Holyfield (42-10-2, 27 ko´s) hasn’t fought since losing a majority decision to the then WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev in Dec 2008. Many at ringside that night believed that Holyfield had done enough to take the crown from the Russian giant. In his fight prior to that in October 2007, Holyfield had lost by a wide margin in a challenge for Sultan Ibragimov´s WBO title.
As he enters his fourth decade in the ring, Holyfield knows that beating Botha for the lowly WBF crown coupled with his decent performance against Valuev could be enough to jockey him into a title shot against new WBA heavyweight champion David Haye, or against one of the Klitschko brothers, WBC heavyweight champion Vitali and IBF and WBO champion Vladimir.
Evander also must know that by continuing to box on year after year with limited success (he is 6-6-2 since 1999) he dilutes his once burgeoning legacy, and risks damaging his health permanently. Holyfield has spoken with a slight slur for years, but it is getting more pronounced. In an interview he did last year on Radio 4´s Sportsweek with Gary Richardson, the evidence was there for all to hear.
We would all love to remember Holyfield for that surreal night in Las Vegas in 1996 when as a 14-1 underdog, and with some writers genuinely fearing for his life, he battered the ferocious Mike Tyson from pillar to post for 11 rounds to regain the World Heavyweight title.
We don’t want to remember Holyfield flat on his back unconscious surrounded by medics after being knocked cold by David Haye or one of the Klitschko´s.
Franz or Francois Botha (47-4-3, 28 ko´s) is a 41 year old Californian based South African. A colorful character, Botha briefly held the IBF heavyweight title, but was stripped of it when he tested positive for steroids. In a 20 year career he has mixed it up with the likes of Michael Moorer (L TKO 12 for the IBF title), Mike Tyson (L KO 5), Lennox Lewis (L TKO 2 for WBC title) and Vladimir Klitshcko (L TKO 8 for the WBO crown).
Ironically, he is best known among fight fans for having Mike Tyson attempt to break his arm in the second round of their fight. In probably his finest moment, Botha out-boxed Tyson for four and a half rounds before being knocked cold by a Hail Mary of a right hand in the fifth.
Botha is a classic example of a boxing ´nearly-man`. He is a good boxer, but not a great one. He is a decent puncher, but not a huge hitter. He is 6´2´´ and burly, but looked small against Lewis and Klitschko. One thing Botha does have is a ton of heart.
Both Holyfield and Botha have fought 54 times. Evander has fought harder fights at a higher level on a more consistent basis. Is is safe to say that Holyfield´s career has taken more out of him than Botha´s.
Botha might well be the fresher, quicker and more aggressive of the two come fight night. Since coming back after a five year layoff in 2007, Botha has been weighing well over 250 lbs. Evander is sure to be his usual trim self, so Botha could have a 30+ pound weight advantage. But Holyfield knows his way around a boxing ring, and is still, even at 47, a much better boxer than Franz Botha.
This will be a surprisingly entertaining fight. Both men will want to win it, and with 80,000 screaming fans in the stadium, the atmosphere will be electric. But not too many of those fans will be cheering on for a white South African. Botha will satrt strongly, but will be blowing hard after six rounds, and Holyfield´s patented left hooks should blow him away by the eighth.
Fight odds; Holyfield 4/9, Botha 13/8 William Hill