Interview w Evander Holyfield
National Conference Call Transcript
Four-Time World Champion
Thursday, September 25, 2003
Holyfield participated in a conference call to discuss his 12-round heavyweight showdown against IBF cruiserweight champion James Toney on Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Highlighting the undercard will be a 12-round IBF title eliminator featuring two of boxing’s most talented fighters, former 130-pound world champions Joel Casamayor and Diego Corrales. Both fights will air live on pay per view beginning at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Goossen Tutor Promotions will present the event, which will be distributed by SHOWTIME Pay Per View and carries a suggested retail price of $44.95. Tickets are priced at $650, $500, $300, $150 and $75, and are on sale now at the Mandalay Bay Box Office and all TicketMaster outlets. To order tickets by phone, call (702) 632-7580.
Question: Are you concerned about your left shoulder going into this fight?
Holyfield: I am prepared. I am looking forward to doing new things now.
Question: Do you consider Toney a legitimate heavyweight, or do you think his weight is a concern?
Holyfield: That (Toney’s weight) is not a big concern. It is not so much the weight. It is how the individual fights. Every time someone starts talking about weight, it takes away from the fight. No one is born at that weight. We grew into that weight. It is all about the challenge, more so than the weight. I will probably not outweigh him as much as other fighters have outweighed me in the past. I am just not as heavy as a Lennox Lewis, Buster Douglas or George Foreman, but I did have the ability to compete and give a good fight. I am not really concerned about the weight.
Question: What do you gain from this fight?
Holyfield: I cannot stay idle hoping Chris Byrd, Lewis or Roy Jones will fight me. I will not get better if I do not fight. It just so happened when the fight with Jones fell out, I realized I have to fight someone people would want to see. What I am gaining is that I get better with each and every fight. What fighter would be more interesting to fight coming off an injury than Toney?
Question: Have you fought anyone that has talked as much as Toney, and does his talking bother you?
Holyfield: It (Toney’s talking) does not bother me, but I have not fought anyone that talks as much as Toney. I think early in my career, Dwight Muhammad Qawi talked a lot, but Toney supercedes him.
Question: Generally speaking, what is your take on guys that talk a lot before a fight?
Holyfield: Some can back it up and some cannot. What I take from it is that they (fighters) will not do anything differently from what they have not said, because they have told me what they are going to do in the fight. Toney told me he will be in great shape, and that he is willing to fight an all-out war. The fight will be interesting as long as it lasts.
Question: Do you really believe he will stand in front of you?
Holyfield: It is not important whether I believe it (whether Toney will stand in front of Holyfield) or not. When the fight starts, that might be Toney’s plan, but either he is going to stick to his plan and get knocked out, or he is going to make some adjustments.
Question: What is the biggest factor that will allow you to handle Toney?
Holyfield: My boxing skills are superior. I have the reach. I fight well inside and outside. The question is, can he take what I give him? I am not going to be trying to take his, so if I have to make the adjustment, I will make the adjustment if I have to. We both are going to say what we believe, but the fight itself will tell it.
Question: What will you weigh for the fight?
Holyfield: I will weigh somewhere between 215-220 pounds.
Question: Do you have any predictions as to how this fight will end?
Holyfield: I think it will be a fast-paced fight. If it goes according to how Toney says he is going to fight, it will be an action-packed fight and will not go the distance.
Question: Is there a certain style of an opponent you like to fight?
Holyfield: There are a lot of times I have seen someone fight, and I think the guy is tailor made for me until they actually get in the ring with me. Fighters that are more aggressive match up better with me. There is really no defense when a guy is trying to get you. When a guy is trying to get you, you cannot get him, which makes the most compelling fight. That is why a fight with (Mike) Tyson or (Riddick) Bowe always sells, because those people came to win. When you come to win, people will see a good show. When you come to survive, it can become boring. How can you beat someone who is coming to survive? It is hard to get a guy that really comes to box.
Question: You like the guy who comes to win?
Holyfield: The cat and mouse game is smart, but people want to see fighters who come to win, or do not wait to go to the judges. When the fight goes all the way, they see the spirit of the person that wants to win.
Question: Have you faced an opponent that you thought would come all out and then you ended up having to chase him?
Holyfield: Lennox Lewis was that way. If I did not make the fight, there was not going to be a fight.
Question: What happens if you lose to Toney?
Holyfield: I do not lose; I just do not get decisions sometimes. You lose when you quit. I have never quit. When it comes down to a decision, judges make a decision as to which fighter they want to win the fight. I have always been able to survive no matter whom they decide to give the fight to.
Question: Are you still completely focused on boxing?
Holyfield: I am focused on boxing, but I have to be realistic that life goes on when boxing is over. When I retire from boxing, I will be very young in the business world. When boxing is over, I will have to be able to step into my new role. That is where Real Deal Records comes in.
Question: Are you concerned you have not stopped anyone in six years?
Holyfield: I am not concerned because no one has stood in front of me. How many people really stand in front of me or really come to beat me? How many people hold, and how many people really fight? People have to do what is smart for them, but too many fighters come out and do that.
Question: Do you really believe Toney will stand in front of you?
Holyfield: Whatever Toney chooses to do, I have to do enough to win. Even though he makes adjustments, I will be able to bring more to the table even if he moves. All my weapons are okay now. I feel that it did take away from my ability to track down a person when my shoulder was bad.
Question: How much do you think age and injuries have taken away from your skills?
Holyfield: The shoulder injury took a lot away from me because it was my left hand. It was not easy for me to counterpunch because it took so long for my left to recuperate after so many punches. If I am not leading with my left hand, I find myself standing there a lot more and not able to throw as many punches. Now that I do not have that as a weakness, everything should get better and better.
Question: Before the first Tyson fight, he seemed to anger you with his comments. Do you see yourself in the same position against Toney?
Holyfield: These are things I cannot let bother me. Everyone has freedom to say whatever they want to say. I think it takes a stronger person to hold their tongue as opposed to speaking out. If he is speaking, he is telling me what he is going to do so I can be more prepared.
Question: Have you thrown the left in training with the power you want to throw it in the fight?
Holyfield: I have seen a lot of improvement. It has been a lot better than it has been in four years.
Question: Do you think Dan Goossen made this fight because he thinks it is an easy fight for Toney?
Holyfield: It could be. I cannot think of a better reason why Toney would want to fight me out of all the fighters out there. They say that Evander is great, but they say it is time for me to go. They feel they are better than me. If he does think it is his time, I think he will be disappointed.
Question: Is it to your liking that Toney wants to stay off the ropes?
Holyfield: The best part of my game is that when I find you, I will do something to you. So, if I do not have to find a guy, it makes it easier for me. There is no need in being overly concerned. Either he will stand in front of me or he will not.
Question: Can you tell us how your team has helped you prepare for this fight?
Holyfield: When you do not change up a lot, people may know you a lot better than they should. This fight they (Holyfield’s team) seemed to come in early and try to do everything necessary to prepare me for James Toney. Why would a guy smaller than you really want to fight you other than money? He actually thinks he can beat me. He actually wants to make a name off my name. That concerns you and you start working on new things. They see that I am concentrating and doing the right thing. I do not believe in going out and making a fool of myself. It is not by ego. Either I believe I can be the best heavyweight fighter in the world and beat everyone, or I will not. I feel I can beat everyone as a heavyweight. My training group is looking at that. I go back and watch tapes of my previous fights, seeing what I am doing that I did not do then, and how can I add to that. This is how they work with me. There is no sense in going in there when you do not need the money. Do you still have that desire? Can you really win? When they question that, that is when I should question myself.
Question: If Lewis retires, what does that do for the heavyweight division?
Holyfield: It (Lewis retiring) does not do anything. The fact is, Lewis is not what he thinks he is in this game. Everybody recognizes he is a good fighter and he does hold the belts. When you refuse to fight guys because you say you are better than them, that is not really being the best. If I could just fight certain fighters that fit my style, I would look great in all of them. I did not want to fight (Larry) Holmes, (Vaughn) Bean or (John) Ruiz. These are guys I needed to fight. I cannot refuse to fight somebody when I know I had to fight my way up. I would have never had a chance to prove I was good if some of those top fighters refused to fight me. Tyson did not fight me for two years. People held that against me and said I would not fight him, but he would not fight me. I fought him in 1996 and then people said, the man is legit. Lewis should know that more than anyone because Bowe did not fight him and he got a title. Tyson did not fight him and he became the two-time heavyweight champion of the world. How do you now become heavyweight champion and not fight people? Do you not think about how you felt? It is better for him (Lewis) to get out of boxing if he does not do what the rules say. It is wrong to have people work just as hard as he has and not to give them a chance. He needs to get on out. It is selfish because nobody goes anywhere without an opportunity. The game of boxing is always going to have other champions. They are not going to stop the game because you are out of it.
Question: Like he did in the Vassiliy Jirov fight, do you think Toney going to the ropes is an energy-conserving tactic?
Holyfield: In the Jirov fight, Toney was fighting a guy with more skills than he had. He threw a lot of arm punches. He never stepped in and got those legs in there. Toney really does not move a lot. You just have to hit him with meaningful punches. You have to put some muscle into it, and let him know that he does not want to be on the ropes.
Question: Does it get you motivated when people say it is time for you to go?
Holyfield: No, it really does not get me motivated. People use that so they will not have to fight me. It is just an excuse. Opponents make an excuse as to why they do not want to fight someone. Who are the people you actually make a big payday fighting against? There are not too many people out there. Most people refuse to fight people that are necessary. They think winning is the only thing to do. It is not winning if you have not fought the best. Toney has to feel confident to get in the ring with me. It is fine for Toney to feel confident about fighting me.
Question: Did you see anything in Lewis’ performance against Vitali Klitschko that makes you think it is time for him to go?
Holyfield: No. I think have a different opinion from everybody else. I think what people said about Lewis, that he will not stand in there and fight, is wrong. He took on the biggest guy he has ever fought and he went straight at him and fought him. I think Lewis gave the people what they wanted. Klitschko fought back and made it a big challenge fight, but Lewis still busted him up. People criticized Lewis for not jabbing, but how can you out-jab a guy that is bigger and taller than you? He did the next best thing and got into a rumble. He came out a winner, because the guy could not continue. Lewis did hit him with some shots that cut him.
Question: If you were in Lewis’ position, would you have given Klitschko a rematch by now if the money had been right?
Holyfield: Of course I would have given him a rematch by now. You cannot let something like that deter you from giving someone a rematch unless you are going to retire. If you are going to retire, go ahead, but if not, you need to do what you are going to do. You do not have to keep playing with the game of boxing. If you are going to fight, fight.