Evander Holyfield is busy this week finalizing details for another Real Deal card of boxing Saturday evening at Resorts Casino NYC in Queens, It has also been an accomplished year for the four-time undisputed heavyweight champion who was also inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in June.
Promoting is another side of the business and Holyfield gets another taste of that with a 12-bout card in New York.
“We want to do two fights a month, that’s the ultimate goal,” said Holyfield who also holds a distinction of the only undisputed champion in the heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions. “People want to see good boxing. We have the places.”
And New York the past few months has been a hotbed for the sport with promoters, TV networks, and the New York State Athletic Commission working out their differences with an insurance bond issue related to safety of the fighters.
Holyfield and Real Deal Promotions is the first of four consecutive weeks of Saturday boxing cards that also include three shows at Madison Square Garden. Two at the Garden are a Miguel Cotto retirement fight and perhaps pound-for-pound best Vasyl Lomachenko opposing Guillermo Rigondeaux on December 9th for the featherweight title.
New York City is also a homecoming of sorts for Holyfield. The 1984 Bronze Medal winner represented the United States Olympic Boxing team and failed to get the gold because of a disqualification He was a member of a team that took home nine gold medals and that probably will never happen again.
Holyfield along with Gold medalists Mark Breland, Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker, and Tyrell Biggs made their successful pro debuts televised on ABC Sports under the Main Events banner at Madison Square Garden almost 33 years ago, November 17 of 1984.
“Taylor had the fastest hands,” he said about his Olympic teammate and former two-time champion in the junior welterweight and welterweight divisions. That night at the Garden was memorable and the start of a Hall of Fame career. Holyfield had his ups and downs, as does any fighter and he learned about the business of boxing.
And now, the Hall of Famer has adjusted to the transition of being on another side of the boxing industry. Promoting is not easy and it never was, but he has the knowledge and wants his fighters to be aware that The Real Deal will be a part of the package.
“I was the youngest at nine years of age,” he said. “My mom never told me, you can’t quit. That’s the aspect of everybody’s life, don’t quit. What you can do, do it. I say three things my mom always told me. Listen, follow, direction, don’t quit.”
You hear a lot of references about Holyfield’s late mother that always provides that incentive. The promoter brings that philosophy in his new line of work and Real Deal Promotions, one of many new promotions in the sport, is looking for the next champ and promising to do it the right way.
Their first show took place earlier this year in June as part of a tribute to Muhammad Ali on the one-year anniversary of his passing. And now at 55 years of age and residing in Fort Lauderdale Florida, Holyfield is content at what he does.
“When you become an icon you try to still be be a part of the game to give hope and opportunity,” he said. “Being a promoter, I can give opportunity. Felt that I would have a better opportunity than as a coach and working with one single individual or a few people Somebody gonna win somebody gonna lose.”
Holyfield, in other words ,is working to develop a champion and as he says ”When you become an icon a lot of people like you.” He developed that icon status as a popular champion and did right in the ring which earned him the Hall of Fame designation as a world champion and Olympic medal winner.
And with exception of a iconic Mike Tyson bite to the ear, Holyfield handled it well.
The promotion moves on to Providence Rhode Island on December 1st. The Real Deal stable of young fighters will continue to develop as they meet and greet the champ. But another aspect of the promotion is Medical Arts Radiology, a New York based organization that provides extensive care to fighters and working hand-in-hand with Holyfield.
The Real Deal Medical Team will consist of ARP-certified physicians that specialize in different areas to provide fighters with consistent medical care and will maintain a medical history to track any changes in their physical or mental health.
The boxing game needs something like this and Evander Holyfield is trying to make a difference.
“My whole thing is make them take care of what you got now,” he says. “What is needed for the young fighters of today. All the proper precautions. Food, exercise, and stretching.”
And there is that ultimate question about a unified heavyweight champion and of course Evander Holyfield was in that era with Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis when there was that undisputed heavyweight king.
But will boxing eventually see unity in a division that has always been a face for the sport?
Ask Evander Holyfield about unification of the heavyweight title and he says, “ People come together that will make things work I think now with the different promoters now, you got the young promoters, De la Hoya (Oscar), myself ,we know it takes unity to make things work.”
Holyfield believes Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion has that ability to unify the titles. “I look at him as the only one who has the ability to use what he has.” It’s the old school ability in this new school of boxing.
And in this new school of boxing it is Real Deal Sports and Entertainment looking to make a difference and building another icon.
Saturday night, Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz, 17-2, 8 KO’s, an exciting junior lightweight, highlights the card against Angel Luna of the Dominican Republic and the undefeated Duke Micah of Ghana makes his American debut in a 10-round bantamweight clash.
Evander Holyfield will be at ringside on the other side of the business and looking for that next icon.