Holyfield, 44, fights Oquendo as comeback continues

Originally Published: November 9, 2006
Associated Press

Forty-four-year-old Evander Holyfield doesn't care what people say. He remains determined to be boxing's undisputed heavyweight champion.

"No man can tell me to stop what I'm doing," Holyfield said. "God can. He's the only one."

The former champion's chase for another title continues Friday night when he meets Fres Oquendo in a scheduled 10-round bout at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Holyfield, who began his comeback in August with a fight in Dallas -- a second-round technical knockout of West Virginia insurance salesman Jeremy Bates -- dismisses critics who say he's too old, too slow and taken too many punches to be back in a title pursuit.

I promised myself that I would become undisputed heavyweight champion. And I'm 44 years old, but I haven't reached that goal. That's why I'm here. I set the goal and I'm sticking to it. That seems to bother a lot of other people. It doesn't bother me.
Evander Holyfield

"I promised myself that I would become undisputed heavyweight champion. And I'm 44 years old, but I haven't reached that goal," Holyfield said. "That's why I'm here. I set the goal and I'm sticking to it. That seems to bother a lot of other people. It doesn't bother me."

Before defeating Bates, Holyfield (39-8-2 with 26 knockouts) had lost his previous three fights and hadn't fought anyone in nearly two years.

His last loss had been so bad that New York officials revoked his license to fight in that state, citing diminished skills and poor performance. Texas officials licensed him to fight in the Lone Star State.

"Sure I've lost some of what I had during my youth. But I think I've taken care of myself and allowed myself to gain experience and wisdom. Those things can replace what I may have lost," Holyfield said.

Holyfield won his first heavyweight championship in 1990 by defeating Buster Douglas.

Oquendo, a 33-year-old Puerto Rican who fights out of Chicago, is 26-3 with 16 KOs.

He will likely be a much tougher test than Bates, who still managed to get in a few hard shots and a blow to Holyfield's face before the fight was stopped.

Oquendo has yet to win a major title. He won his first 22 fights and lost a controversial decision to Chris Byrd in 2003.

"So everybody is questioning why I would fight with a young guy like this. I'm taking a chance," Holyfield said. "And I can't make the mistake. And I can't wait for him to make a mistake. I have to force him into one."

Oquendo sees the fight as an opportunity for him to fight a big name, even one past his prime.

"This is a very, very important fight for me," Oquendo said. "I don't know if Holyfield is too old. Who's to say?"

Lou Duva, Holyfield's former manager and trainer who has another fighter on Friday night's card, said he was skeptical of Holyfield's return but now thinks the former champ could win another title in a weak heavyweight division.

"Can Evander still fight? Yeah, but you can't compare him today to what he was 14 or 15 years ago. Can he win the title? With the heavyweights that are out there today, yeah, he can," Duva said.

The pay-per-view bout will be carried on Fox Sports Net.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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