Exhibition matches we'd like to see, including Evander Holyfield vs. Mike Tyson

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·4 min read

The Mike Tyson-Roy Jones card was good entertainment, and the majority of people I’ve spoken to felt they got their money’s worth, but let’s not get carried away here.

The Tyson-Jones exhibition was entertaining as far as it went, if you remember that they are 54 and 51 years old, respectively, and long past their fighting primes.

Ali-Frazier, Holmes-Norton or Foreman-Lyle, this was not.

And we shouldn’t try to make it such. Let’s reiterate that 50-year-olds do not belong in a boxing ring, and the inevitability of a bad outcome increases the more of these fights that are made.

That said, it’s no shock that Evander Holyfield, Tyson’s biggest rival during their careers, has called out Tyson.

“My side tried to make the fight happen, and we got nothing but excuses,” Holyfield said. “Now I can see why he wanted a tune-up fight before thinking about fighting me.”

That’s a cheap shot that wasn’t really necessary, especially since Tyson followed the rules set out by Andy Foster, the executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission.

But the financial success of the Tyson-Jones show was always going to bring others out and Holyfield is simply just one of the first.

Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson fight for WBA World Heavyweight Title on June 28,1997 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Fight was stop in the third round and Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield on both ears. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson fight for WBA heavyweight title on June 28, 1997, at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

What was bizarre was Holyfield saying that a third fight, and an exhibition one at that, was important to his legacy. Holyfield knocked Tyson out in their first fight after dominating him most of the way, then was winning the second fight until Tyson bit him and was disqualified.

Holyfield’s motivation is obvious: Money. His legacy can only take a hit, and in no way can be improved, by fighting an exhibition against Tyson. Yet, here we are.

“No more excuses,” Holyfield said. “This is the fight that must happen for both of our legacies. Saturday night you said you were ready to fight me, so sign the contract and get in the ring, Tyson. The world is waiting and it’s on you now. I’m ready.”

Let’s start by saying I’m opposed to 50-year-olds fighting, but here’s a list of five fights that are somewhat feasible:

1. Tyson-Holyfield: These two are attached at the hip, as they have been since they were teenagers and each battling for a spot on the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. They were first scheduled to fight as pros on Nov. 18, 1991, but Tyson went to prison and that was canceled. If Tyson is to fight again, Holyfield is the only one that makes much sense.

2. Tyson-Buster Douglas: Douglas defeated Tyson in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history in 1990. Tyson was as high as a 42-1 favorite at The Mirage sportsbook in Las Vegas, but Douglas came up with the performance of his life and stopped Tyson. This could be billed as Tyson’s shot at revenge, but the problem with Douglas is weight. He’s ballooned way up in weight and there has to be concern whether he could safely compete given that.

3. Jones-Antonio Tarver: Tarver is 52 and they met three times as pros, with Tarver winning two of the three. They have a natural rivalry and Tarver wants in on this gig.

4. Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad: The duo met in 1999 in what was billed as “The Fight of the Millennium.” Both were undefeated and both held a welterweight title. De La Hoya had outboxed Trinidad badly for most of the fight, but ran the final four rounds and gave it away. De La Hoya is thinking of a comeback, so this is a far safer option for him than fighting Gennadiy Golovkin, like he’s spoken about. Both men are 47.

5. Wladimir Klitschko-Vitali Klitschko: The brothers would never fight each other as professionals, for good reason. But a sparring match with a big chunk of money going to a charity? That could work. They each support scores of children’s charities and it would be fun to see them in the ring against each other. Vitali, now the mayor of Kiev, Ukraine, is 49. Wladimir is 44.

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