Evander Holyfield will fight Brian Nielsen

Updated: November 29, 2010, 12:04 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Less than two weeks after Evander Holyfield's fight with Sherman Williams was called off, the former four-time heavyweight titleholder has something else lined up.

He's going to Denmark to fight national hero Brian Nielsen on March 5.

Scott Shaffer, an attorney for promoter Sauerland Event told ESPN.com the fight had been agreed to and Ken Sanders, Holyfield's manager, said Sunday that the deal had been signed.

"We've already signed the contract on Friday," Sanders said. "Evander is in great condition and he's ready to fight. He's been training for so darn long because we thought we would fight in November and then in December. So he's champing at the bit to fight."

Holyfield was due to face Sherman Williams on Dec. 9 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, but the fight, which had already been postponed twice, was canceled last week due to lagging ticket sales, the lack of a television deal and a variety of missed deadlines for the promotion.

Holyfield (43-10-2, 28 KOs) continues to fight at age 48, even though he is a shell of the once-great fighter he was. However, he did end a two-fight losing streak -- both losses coming in world title bouts -- with an eighth-round knockout of François Botha in April. The fight with Botha was Holyfield's first in 16 months.

"They approached me three or four months ago and I kept putting it off because we had things lined up, but our fight [with Williams] didn't come through," Sanders said of Sauerland Event. "Brian had his knee operated on so they wanted to wait until after the first of the year. March is fine with us."

Nielsen is 45 and has not fought since April 2002, when he won an eight-round decision against former cruiserweight titlist Uriah Grant.

Nielsen (64-2, 43 KOs) built his eye-catching record mostly against low-level opposition during a 10-year period from 1992 to 2002, which included a seventh-round knockout loss to former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson -- Holyfield's rival -- in 2001. Nielsen's only other loss was a 10th-round upset knockout to club fighter Dicky Ryan in 1999.

Nielsen has some wins against notable names on his resume -- former heavyweight titleholders Tim Witherspoon (1999), Larry Holmes (1997) and Tony Tubbs (1995) -- but each came when they were way past their primes.

"Just because he hasn't fought in eight years doesn't mean he hasn't been training or sparring," Sanders said. "He's a big guy and big guys are always dangerous."

Sanders said there is a possibility the fight with Williams could be rescheduled for Jan. 15 and that Holyfield is contractually allowed to take that fight in advance of the Nielsen fight, although Holyfield fighting twice in three months is unlikely.

Holyfield, whose financial issues have been well-documented, will earn in the neighborhood of $500,000 for the fight.

"That's the only reason we're going," said Sanders, when asked about the purse. "It's pretty good. The fight should be a pretty good draw because [Nielsen] is so popular there, but Evander has fans around the world."

Sanders said he and Holyfield were going to Copenhagen for a news conference to formally announce the bout on Wednesday.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.

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