‘Did Evander Holyfield just squander his £350m fortune?’
Boxing is a ‘disgrace’ and a ‘farce’ for allowing Evander Holyfield to fight again and be able to call out Mike Tyson following his defeat to Vitor Belfort on Saturday.
That’s the view of talkSPORT 2 presenter Ade Odalipo, who is currently witnessing the sport he loves descend into a circus.
Holyfield failed to even make it out of one round against Belfort, a former UFC light-heavyweight champion, as he was dropped and embarrassed by a fighter not fit to lace his boots in his prime.
Yet the sad reality is that Holyfield’s prime years took place in the previous Millennium, with a trilogy against Riddick Bowe and a brace of bouts against Tyson defining his legacy.
Indeed, by the time he fought Lennox Lewis in 1999, there were clear signs the former undisputed cruiserweight champion was slowing down.
Fears about the ‘Real Deal’ fighting again reached a heightened state when sparring footage in the build-up to fight week was released.
Looking slow and cumbersome on the pads, it was clear to see why the New York State Athletic Commission banned Holyfield from competing as far back as 2004.
The Commission concluded the former four-time world champion had ‘deteriorating skills’ and was not able to properly defend himself, which became clear following Saturday night’s debacle.
When Holyfield competed in the WWE in an exhibition bout against Matt Hardy in 2007, or in a charity bout against Mitt Romney in 2015, boxing fans were hopeful that he would never box professionally again.
Yet, as Odalipo pointed out in his impassioned rant, boxing has become a toxic environment which ensnares even the bravest warriors.
“I didn’t watch it all,” Odalipo said on talkSPORT 2. “ I watched the highlights and that’s all it needed because it only lasted a round.
“The whole thing is just a disgrace, it is a massive disgrace and boxing is the wild, wild west.
“If you any amount of money, you can do anything in the sport – you really can. They moved the event to another state just so that Evander Holyfield could get a medical.
“How can a 58-year-old who 17 years ago was told to stop carry on? He has had heart issues as well, do your digging on that and come to any conclusion that you want.
“A 58-year-old Evander Holyfield should not be in the ring. I’m a massive Evander Holyfield fan; he is one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, but when is boxing going to look at itself and say, ‘enough is enough?’
“There was a young girl that died a couple of weeks ago, that should be the lightbulb moment.
“Some people may say, ‘Well the boxers are very well aware of the dangers.’ Yes, they are, but let’s make it as safe as possible.
“People are tuning out of boxing and everyone blames YouTube stars. YouTube stars ain’t killing boxing; corrupt officials, corrupt judging and 58-year-old Evander Holyfield is killing the sport of boxing.
“Not Jake Paul, who is a young, fit and healthy guy. To see Evander Holyfield, who I grew up watching as God-like with Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis, to see him get beaten by Vitor Belfort and for someone to sanction that and someone to make money off that…
“Boxing right now is a nonsense. I was looking at this today and thinking, ‘How is all this happening?’
“How is David Haye fighting his friend and getting paid? How is Tito Ortiz fighting Anderson Silva?
“What has happened to the sport I love? It needs a clean slate.
“Unless someone cleans it up, it is just a madness waiting to happen.”
In 2012, Holyfield was described as ‘flat broke and bankrupt’ by The Independent, despite earning $513million (£350m) over the course of his boxing career.
Although it remains to be seen what his financial situation is, the fact he called for a trilogy fight with Tyson in the immediate aftermath of his defeat to Belfort should send alarm bells ringing.
Yet Odalipo fears the cries for help will fall on deaf ears.
“It was honestly a farce and it is going to continue,” he added.
“Evander Holyfield has come out now and said he is okay and that he wants to fight Mike Tyson, what is going on?
“Did you not make $400million in your career, is that all gone? Have you just squandered all your money?