The announcement of an Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson showdown thrilled the boxing world...five years ago. That bout, scheduled for Nov. 8, 1991, and expected to be the richest in the sport's history, never came off. It was postponed when Tyson suffered a rib injury and then canceled when he went off to an Indiana jail. The news last week that Holyfield had once again agreed to fight Tyson, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this fall, produced more of a chill than a thrill.
Holyfield, 33, a two-time heavyweight champion who throughout his 12-year career has been one of the ring's proudest warriors, is risking not only his fistic legacy but also his health in a bout that is no longer anywhere near as compelling as it once was. Tyson is back, a fact he made fearsomely clear in his March 16 demolition of Frank Bruno, but Holyfield is fading fast. He retired in 1994 after losing his title on a decision to Michael Moorer. After that bout doctors diagnosed a cardiac condition and advised Holyfield never to fight again.
Still he came back the next year, first claiming that he had been healed by God and then citing further medical exams that other doctors said showed that he had never had a heart problem. In his three fights since, he has struggled, most recently against beefed-up light heavyweight Bobby Czyz on May 10. Though Holyfield stopped Czyz, he never hurt him and was gasping for breath from the opening bell.
Holyfield will have to pass a Nevada State Athletic Commission physical to meet Tyson. But one member of the licensing panel, Dr. Elias Ghanem, told the New York Post last week that he had been against allowing Holyfield to fight Riddick Bowe last Nov. 4 (Holyfield was KO'd in the eighth round) and that it would be "a tragedy" if Holyfield were licensed again in Nevada.
With some $100 million in career earnings, Holyfield is not putting himself in jeopardy simply for another payday. In fact he ignored the advice of his longtime promoters at Main Events and negotiated his own deal for the Tyson fight, accepting Don King's insulting offer of about half the estimated $30 million Tyson will get. What Holyfield wants is the same thing he wanted five years ago: a chance to prove himself against Tyson. But if he climbs through the ropes again this fall, the only thing he will prove is his courage. And that has never been in doubt.
Faith No More
The following notice appeared on monthly bills sent to TCI of Illinois cable-TV subscribers: "Due to popular demand, starting June 1, ESPN2 will be on Channel 60 replacing the Faith and Values Channel."
Step Aside, Monica
Monica Seles is a lot of things, including a superb tennis player and a top-notch self-promoter, but a great patriot she is not. So her nomination to the four-member U.S. Olympic women's team by the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA)—which was supposed to make its choices partly on the basis of players' past willingness to represent America in international play—was inexcusable, as was the related omission of Mary Joe Fernandez.
Seles may be coranked No. 1 in the world, but she's no team player. According to International Tennis Federation rules, only those players who in the past have agreed to "make themselves available" to represent their countries in the Federation Cup, the women's equivalent of the Davis Cup, may be chosen as Olympians. Seles met the criterion last October, when she declared herself available for Fed Cup duty. But when U.S. captain Billie Jean King asked her to play in Fed Cup matches—against Spain in Valencia on Nov. 25-26 and against Austria in Salzburg April 27-28—Seles begged off, citing injuries. "I was really injured," she said last week before her surprising loss to Jana Novotna in the quarterfinals of the French Open. "It's not like I just didn't want to get my butt down there to those matches." Perhaps not. But the fact remains that Seles, a native Serbian who became a U.S. citizen in 1994, has never played a Fed Cup match, not for the former Yugoslavia and not for her adopted country.