SI Vault
March 15, 1999
Holyfield-LewisReal Deal Meets New Deal
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 15, 1999


View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue

Real Deal Meets New Deal

A guy could have gone broke betting against Evander Holyfield. Even now, though Holyfield is 36 and coming off a desultory title defense against Vaughn Bean, no responsible tout will advise wagering against the man who toppled Mike Tyson twice.

Still, this Saturday's heavyweight title fight between Holyfield and 33-year-old Lennox Lewis at Madison Square Garden might conform to the oldest of boxing's adages, the good big man beating the good little man. In what could be the only meaningful heavyweight fight for several years to come, the leverage that WBC champion Lewis produces from his 6'5", 245-pound frame should nullify Holyfield's fierce determination. The shorter (by 2� inches) and lighter (by 25 pounds) WBA and IBF champ will get eaten up by Lewis's long jab as he tries to make up distance. Given Holyfield's inclination to come in on his opponent at all costs, it could get ugly.

Holyfield's recent inconsistency is as troubling to his chances as the size difference. His stirring victories over Tyson in '96 and Michael Moorer in '97 to win the WBA and IBF titles, respectively, were followed by a lackluster decision over Bean last year. You don't like to write off a guy who retired with what was thought to be a hole in his heart and then returned to regain two belts, but Holyfield's manic conditioning can take him only so far.

Lewis is no model of consistency himself. (You can't even pin a nationality on this guy: He was born in England of Jamaican heritage and won a 1988 Olympic gold for Canada.) Maybe if his only loss hadn't been to Oliver McCall—a 1994 upset engineered by trainer Emanuel Steward, who's now in Lewis's corner—he would be more appreciated. Maybe if any of his three subsequent title fights, including his rematch with McCall for the WBC belt three years later, had unfolded in a conventional way, he would have built more of a following. But while Holyfield has been paired with such attractive and game foes as George Foreman, Riddick Bowe and Moorer, Lewis has been saddled with one head case after another. In his rematch with McCall, his dazed opponent dissolved into tears in the ring. In another bout, challenger Henry Akinwande hugged his way to a disqualification. Andrew Golota simply froze in the ring, allowing a puzzled Lewis to level him in the first round.

Now, finally, Lewis has a proven opponent and a chance to participate in a good heavyweight title bout (no oxymoron this time), maybe even a spectacular one. Lewis is bigger, stronger and fresher than Holy-field, and if he's not the warrior Holyfield is, he's at least a younger one. So we figure Lewis in eight. But bet it light.
—Richard Hoffer

White House Premiere
Wonder Women And the Clintons

While pundits parsed her every phrase for hints at an answer to the question of the hour, Will Hillary run for the Senate?, the First Lady spent last Thursday evening honoring women who had run (and jumped and swum and volleyed) before her. At a screening of the HBO documentary Dare to Compete: The Struggle of Women in Sports, Ms. Clinton played hostess and fan to a sparkling array of sportswomen.

"I've never seen such a collection of athletes—not women athletes, just athletes—at the White House" she told an all-star gathering in the East Room that included Nadia Comaneci, Chris Evert, Dorothy Hamill, Billie Jean King and even 1932 Olympic swimming champ Eleanor Holm Whalen. After drawing laughs for her recollections of playing half-court basketball ("We weren't allowed to play hill-court like the boys because, we were told, our hearts were too weak"), the First Lady joined the President for some schmoozing in the State Dining Room. Hillary chatted with diminutive gymnast Dominique Dawes while Bill posed for photos with WNBA star Lisa Leslie, who towered over him.

But it was the widow Whalen who made a splash with the Prez. As Eleanor Holm Jarrett she was kicked off the '36 U.S. Olympic team for drinking champagne on the boat to Germany—an incident she turned to gold by parlaying her notoriety into a role in Billy Rose's Aquacade at the '39 World's Fair and a 15-year marriage to Rose. On Thursday the feisty Whalen, now 86, told Bill, "You're a good-looking dude."

Continue Story
1 2 3