JEFF POWELL: Evander Holyfield’s short-lived return was ghoulish, obscene and life-threatening

RAW

There are times now when it is difficult to discern what Evander Holyfield is mumbling.

On Saturday night, when the words were more intelligible, it was hard to believe what he was saying.

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Let me describe in words of unmistakeable clarity what took place this weekend: Disgraceful, shameful, obscene, horrifying, gruesome, scandalous.

Evander Holyfield’s first fight in 10 years was brutally ended on Saturday by Vitor Belfort

The 58-year-old replaced Oscar De La Hoya at late notice and was no match for his opponent

I could go on. But what matters most now is making sure nothing like it happens again.

Allowing Holyfield to return to the boxing ring put his now-fragile cerebral functions in serious jeopardy. Perhaps his life. It is not just that he is 58. Not only that this came 10 years after he last fought. 

The true crime is that this great man is no longer The Real Deal. No more the true Adonis, even though his remarkable commitment to training still builds muscles which give a cosmetic illusion of strength and power.

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The world’s only four-time world heavyweight champion, one of the noblest warriors in the annals of the hardest game, was trotted out to be humiliated by a 44-year-old retired cage fighter. The organisers of this monstrosity should crawl back under their stone.

It’s not as if they weren’t warned of the dangers. The California boxing commission refused to sanction, so they slunk off to Florida where they were allowed to call up Holyfield as a substitute for Oscar De La Hoya against one Vitor Belfort. For this, the only motivation was money.

No matter how much they paid Holyfield, it wasn’t enough to compensate for his acute embarrassment at almost falling through the ropes, being knocked down by an orthodox left jab, being rescued from a barrage of primitive punches from his hiding place behind gloves held up to ears once bitten by Mike Tyson. All in ten seconds, less than one round.

Money was the only motivation for a bout that came to a welcome conclusion in the first round

President Trump, whose love of boxing bizarrely tempted him into being the ring announcer, knows more about the hardest game than the opportunist entrepreneurs who are bringing aging pugilists out of the shadows. The prize-ring Is no place for old men

They had been getting away with this cynical recycling of ancient legends. Until now. What happened with Holyfield exposed the perils for all too see.

Having gambled away his hard-earned fortunes, Holyfield is likely on hard times. A classic throwback to the old days of this sport.

Former US President Donald Trump was the ring announcer for the bizarre spectacle in Florida

Hence he is saying: ‘The ref stopped the fight too soon. I still want my third fight with Iron Mike.’ 

The solution is not to glove him up and send him out to get the rest of his faculties scrambled. 

Better that these opportunist promoters of the ghoulish arrange fund-raisers for Evander and heroes like him.

Promoters would be better off organising boxing fundraisers than wheeling out past-it legends

Stop these fights. Stop, for Holyfield’s and God’s sake. Stop this fad for a boxing veterans’ tour.

Stop before we are staring at the battered face of a terrible tragedy.

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