Holyfield believes in Chinese protege
A five-time heavyweight champion and boxing legend brings another level of credibility and exposure to the Fallon Fights.
As part of his new duties, Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield will be in attendance today for this year’s show. Holyfield’s schedule doesn’t get any lighter as the former champ will be inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Holyfield, 52, last fought in 2011, and has hung up his gloves for good, but he remains involved with boxing. He is Dynasty Boxing Promotions’ ambassador to China, specifically heavyweight Zhang Zhilei.
“His basic foundation is great for the game of boxing,” Holyfield said. “It’s up to you to make the best. Nobody can make you the champ. You have to do what is necessary to be the best.”
At Wednesday’s media day at the Nugget in Sparks, Holyfield said Zhilei possesses the talent and skill, but his protégé must take advantage of the opportunities to become the first Chinese heavyweight champion.
He compared Zhilei to Yao Ming, the former NBA star who starred with the Houston Rockets and paved the way for a larger basketball audience in China.
“Yao Ming was a good player,” Holyfield said. “He wasn’t the very best, but in his home he is a legend. It shows the world is growing.”
Holyfield’s association with Dynasty Boxing stems from his relationship with co-founder Dino Duva, whose father Lou Duva, trained Holyfield and helped form him into a heavyweight contender.
Holyfield said he is in indebted to Lou Duva because the legendary trainer allowed Holyfield to exit his contract to fight Mike Tyson.
“They gave me an opportunity and didn’t quit on me,” Holyfield said. “They let me out of the contract to fight Tyson and I’m honored by that.”
After a storied career along with bumps in the way, Holyfield has returned to the sport in hopes of being part of history yet again.
His message to the fighters on Wednesday, though, was to take advantage of every fight and opportunity they can. Holyfield reminisced how he was never taken seriously as heavyweight champ after he beat Buster Douglas and Riddick Bowe.
Once Holyfield took down Tyson, though, the perception changed.
“The day I beat Mike Tyson, everyone said I was the real heavyweight champion of the world,” he added.