Holyfield says promoter missed payment
Evander Holyfield's Feb. 20 fight against Francois Botha in Kampala, Uganda, is off and plans are in the works to reschedule it, the former heavyweight champion told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
Holyfield was scheduled to face South Africa's Botha in a 12-round bout at Nelson Mandela Stadium, where organizers predicted a crowd of 80,000. However, Holyfield said the promoter failed to make a scheduled payment, forcing him to scrap the idea of going to Africa.
Instead, Holyfield said, plans are in the works to reschedule the fight for March 6 at a site to be determined in the United States.
"I'm not going over," Holyfield said. "We're moving the fight to the States, but they haven't got a site yet. But I'm still supposed to fight Botha."
Ken Sanders, Holyfield's manager, told ESPN.com that Miami was a possible location for the fight. He also said that besides trying to reschedule the Botha bout, Holyfield would also fight April 24 in Las Vegas.
Holyfield said the promoter of the Uganda fight, Eddie Bazira of Baltic Pro Box Promotions of Sweden, was supposed to wire 10 percent of his purse before he'd go to Uganda.
"But the guy never did come up with the money," Holyfield said. "They were supposed to pay us before we went over there, put the money in an escrow account. And they missed the payment. Three months we been waiting and we never did get it. So we made the decision."
Sanders said Holyfield would face New York's Derric Rossy (22-2, 12 KOs) on April 24 at The Orleans casino in Las Vegas on a card promoted by Frank Luca's Crown Boxing.
Rossy, who fights on Wednesday night in New York, would have to win, Sanders said.
Holyfield (47-10-2, 27 KOs) is 4-5 in his last nine bouts and has lost two in a row, both in world title bouts. In October 2007, he was soundly outpointed challenging then-titlist Sultan Ibragimov in Moscow. In his last fight in December 2008, Holyfield dropped a controversial majority decision to then-titlist Nikolai Valuev in Germany.
So after not fighting for more than a year is Holyfield, at his age, capable of fighting twice in six weeks?
"We sat down and had a good conversation and I asked Evander if he wanted to do this and he said he did," Sanders said. "I asked his trainer, Tommy Brooks, the same thing and he said he'll have no problem, that Evander just needed two or three weeks after the first fight and he'll be ready to go for the second one. He's already in great shape."
Between Holyfield's age -- 47 -- and the number of rounds he's boxed professionally, it could be difficult for him to get a license in Nevada, where the commission has rigorous standards. However, Sanders said he was not worried about it.
"He'll pass all the tests," Sanders said. "I'm not concerned."
Although Holyfield has earned hundreds of millions of dollars during his 26-year professional career, he apparently is fighting because he needs the money.
The former four-time heavyweight titleholder filed documents in Cobb County Superior Court in his native Georgia to modify his child support agreement with ex-wife Janice Itson, TMZ.com reported last weekend. According to the report, Holyfield, who has 11 children with several women, asked for the modification because of his decreased income.
Last year, his suburban Atlanta mansion went into foreclosure before a deal was worked out.
Holyfield said he was looking forward to fighting in Uganda.
"I was kind of excited about it when they talked about 80,000 people," he said. "The point is to be able to go to different parts of the world. The U.S. is a great place to fight, but it's not the world."
He said he was unsure where in the U.S. the fight with Botha would take place.
"There are so many places that want to have the fight," he said. "We're trying to find out the best place."
This is the second time Holyfield-Botha has run into problems. It was originally scheduled for Jan. 16. Bazira said at the time the delay was to give the fighters more time to prepare for the bout.
Botha (47-4-3, 28 KOs), 41, is coming off a 12-round draw with Pedro Carrion in Germany in October.
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.