45-year-old Holyfield, Valuev close in on agreement on world title match
Evander Holyfield has accepted an offer to challenge Nikolai Valuev for his heavyweight world title, the former four-time champion told ESPN.com Wednesday night.
Holyfield (42-9-2, 27 KOs) said his attorney is reviewing a contract from Valuev promoter Sauerland Event for a fight that would take place Dec. 20 in either Germany or Switzerland.
"It's solid. They asked if I will take the fight for the offer they made and if everything is straight up, I will take that fight," Holyfield said. "My lawyer is looking at it."
Although Holyfield will turn 46 on Oct. 19, he said other people make more of a big deal about his age than he does. If he wins the fight, Holyfield would become the oldest heavyweight champion in history, even older than George Foreman, who was 45 when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994 in one of boxing's greatest upsets.
"They said I was too old when I was 34 and was getting ready to fight Mike Tyson for the first time," said Holyfield, who knocked out Tyson in a huge upset to win a title. "There's nothing new with what people say. I have a desire and I am the one who got to train and I am willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be the best. Just imagine a 46-year-old guy being heavyweight champ of the world?"
It would be Holyfield's first fight in 14 months. In his last bout, he lost a unanimous decision in Moscow to Sultan Ibragimov for a version of the title in October 2007.
Many figured that would be Holyfield's last shot at a championship, but he said he never lost faith.
"I felt that I would get another opportunity," Holyfield said. "I don't believe in that fight with Ibragimov that I did enough to take the fight. He moved a lot and I didn't take the title from him. It was what it was. I was hoping I would get another opportunity and here it is. I'm thankful to God. Nobody mentioned my name about nothing, but this opportunity is here now."
Holyfield, who is 6-foot-2 and about 215 pounds, will be at a massive size disadvantage in the fight, like most of Valuev's opponents.
Russia's Valuev (49-1, 34 KOs), who regained a vacant belt by outpointing John Ruiz in a rematch on Aug. 30, is the biggest titleholder in history. He is 7-feet and weighs about 320 pounds. Holyfield, a light heavyweight in the 1984 Olympics and former cruiserweight world champion, said the size difference doesn't bother him.
"Of course, he will be the biggest guy I have fought but it's something that could be very interesting," Holyfield said. "I will have a big target. I have to do the things I believe he can't do. He can't move laterally. I got to get in quick, fight and don't stand still too long. I just have to be in tremendous shape to outmaneuver him."
Holyfield said he was looking for a new trainer to prepare him for the fight after working most recently with Ronnie Shields.
"I always keep myself in shape," he said. "I'm probably looking for another trainer. Ronnie left after Ibragimov. I haven't made arrangements yet on a trainer. I hadn't really thought of who would be the right person."
Holyfield made news in July when his financial problems were made public after the mother of one of his children took him to court over missing child support payments. There were also threats of foreclosure on his sprawling, 54,000-square-foot suburban Atlanta estate.
Holyfield would not disclose his purse for the bout, although it is less than $750,000.
"Whatever it is, I'm honored to get the opportunity," he said. "It is the lowest amount I ever made for a championship fight, but I am just appreciative I got the opportunity."
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