Kevin Spars With Former Heavyweight Champ - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/14/06-Bossier City

Kevin Spars With Former Heavyweight Champ

Evander Holyfield is training for a comeback fight this week in Dallas. The Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City asked me if I was interested in sparring with the former heavyweight champ, and I  jumped at the challenge. But then I started to think about it.  I was going to step into the ring against a lethal weapon, with a chip on his shoulder.

"They said I'd never make the Olympic team," Holyfield said of his naysayers.  "I made the Olympic team. I fought for a championship in my 12th professional fight, they said he's just too young, and I won it. They said he's too small to be a heavyweight champ of the world, and I done it, then I done it again, then I did it again, and again."

Now, at the age of 43, seven years removed from his last title, four years removed from his last win, and two years removed from his last fight, Holyfield wants to do it again.

"I'm not telling them to change the game for me," Holyfield said.  "Just give me an opportunity. I just want to show the people, when you're in your 40's, you can still have goals, you can still have dreams."

The "Real Deal's" goal is to end his career as the first ever five-time heavyweight champ. To show just how good a shape he's in, he invited a small group of media members to hop into the ring with him and find out. So I did.

"I leave all my earthly possessions to my wife and kids. Honey, I love you," I said before lacing up the gloves.

Remember, this is a guy who has beaten 16 world champions, and battered 25 of his opponents so bad, they couldn't continue. I asked his trainers what would happen if I actually hit him?

"Definitely going to get hit back, I tell you that right now," they said.

Note to self, don't hit the champ.  His trainers say, it's the best shape they've seen him in, in at least five years. Just my luck, my first time wearing boxing gloves, and I chose a former heavyweight champ in great shape. Now, I know my big head offers a big target, but it took him just 10 seconds to find it.  Fortunately for me, he chose not to land that knock out punch. If you've ever had a pit bull chase you down the street, then, you know that 20 seconds can feel like an eternity. But sure enough, still on my feet, I was able to survive my 20 seconds with one of the greatest.  Only 20 seconds, but I was already winded.

"Try that for three minutes and 10 rounds," his trainers said.

No thank you.  Afterwards, I asked the champ how I did.

"My hats off to everybody that got in there and took the courage to say, you know, what if this guy hit me," Holyfield said, deftly avoiding comment on my boxing talent.  "Life is about courage. People that don't have courage, they don't even take the first step of being the very best they can be."

Holyfield's comeback begins Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas when he fights Jeremy Bates.  

Kevin Berns reporting.

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