Holyfield suspended until after exam

Updated: November 17, 2004, 11:14 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- Former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield is expected to undergo a medical evaluation within the next few weeks in an attempt to lift a suspension imposed by the New York State Athletic Commission, but not before taking some swings at the body which is threatening his livelihood.

The NYSAC suspended Holyfield, 42, indefinitely for "poor performance" after he lost a unanimous 12-round decision to unheralded Larry Donald on Saturday. If Holyfield is to continue his career anywhere in the United States he will need to get medical clearance from the NYSAC since all other state commissions honor New York suspensions.

"I'm not going to let somebody turn up the heat on me, throw daggers at me and get up and run," Holyfield, a four-time heavyweight champion, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm not running. I will do everything within me to have my rights to fight. "They are not going to take away any of my rights and think I'm not going to fight back. I have the right to say how I'm going to end my career."

NYSAC chairman Ron Stevens told Reuters on Wednesday the process for Holyfield getting reinstated is a straightforward one.

"Once he's re-evaluated we will look at the test results and determine whether he is fit to fight again," Stevens said.

Holyfield and those around him seem suspicious of the NYSAC's motives in the suspension and Holyfield's prospects for getting it lifted.

"How do you give a medical test for poor performance?" asked Alex Krys, Holyfield's manager.

After Saturday's fight, Stevens sounded a little more definitive about Holyfield's future while talking to the New York Daily News.

"Evander Holyfield has absorbed enough punishment throughout his great career," he said. "It's time the bleeding stopped."

But Stevens was less stringent in the interview with the Journal-Constitution, Holyfield's hometown newspaper, on Tuesday.

"I have nothing but the utmost respect for Evander Holyfield and his wealth of accomplishments the last 20 years," Stevens said. "But we're doing what the law requires us to do -- protect the health and safety of any boxer."

Holyfield is rejecting retirement while pursuing his goal of regaining the world heavyweight title.

"I don't want anybody to count me out," Holyfield said. "It's not like I'm trying to go another five or 10 years. Just get me a title shot, and if I lose, I'll go about my business."

Another title could be a long shot, even if the NYSAC reinstates him. Donald won 11 of 12 rounds on two judges' cards Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, 10 of 12 on the third judge's card. Holyfield landed an average of six punches a round. And Holyfield has a 2-5-2 record in his last nine bouts.

Whatever his skills, Holyfield still has one of the most important players in the sport in his corner.

"I love Evander and support him in whatever he wants to do," Holyfield's promoter, Don King, said in a statement.

One of the best fighters of his generation, the highlights of Holyfield's battles in the ring over the past 20 years were his epic bouts with Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis.

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