The 68-year-old Duva is still recovering from an angioplasty performed only a week before. Surgeons used a balloon catheter to dilate his blocked coronary arteries. Duva seems not to have noticed. "They told me I may have to have a bypass," he says. "I said, 'I don't give a damn what you do. All I know is, I got a fight April 19!' "
With the previous night's bowling outing forgotten, Holyfield, who won some games and lost some, is sparring at the Heights Boxing gym, an old converted service station with grease spots on the concrete floor. There is a ring with a wrinkled blue canvas, and a pair of heavy bags hangs from the girders along with a blue-and-gold banner that reads YOUNG BEATS OLD. Neighborhood kids and businessmen in ties and shirtsleeves sit in two rows of folding metal chairs.
In an effort to prepare Holyfield for Foreman, Duva and co-trainer George Benton have collected a battery of jumbo-sized sparring partners and given them instructions to lean on, push and bull the champion. Holyfield has more than held his own. One sparring partner, Stan Ward, has already departed with a cracked rib.
The rest of the sparring crew has been taking its lumps as well. "He's getting stronger every day," says Tracy Thomas. Kimmuel Odum, a mountainous 250-pounder, is nursing a broken blood vessel in his left biceps, the result of a Holyfield right. His entire upper arm is purple. He shows it to Duva, who, in the spirit of a loose camp, immediately drops his pants to reveal the spectacular bruise left by the insertion of the angioplasty catheter into his groin. A startled Odum hurries off to lace on his gloves.
Duva and Benton, for all their old-school credentials, have been remarkably open to innovation in the training of Holyfield. More than five years ago they brought in Tim Hallmark, a Houston-based fitness consultant, who with high-tech weight training and diet has built Holyfield from a 182-pound cruiserweight into a full-fledged, awesomely muscled heavyweight. Hallmark has also dramatically increased Holyfield's endurance.
For the Foreman fight Hallmark has introduced his pupil to a device he calls the "reaction piece," designed and built by a California inventor especially for Holy-field. While Holyfield stands strapped to a platform so that his legs face constant resistance, Hallmark rapidly moves five thin, padded poles around him as Holyfield ducks, slips, blocks and counters, like a man battling some giant insect.
Holyfield's other secret weapon is ballet instructor Marya Kennett, enlisted to work on the fighter's flexibility. "I call her Tinker Bell," says Duva. Kennett works Holyfield over for 90 minutes in the morning and again in the evening. "I'm not a masseuse," says Kennett, who began working with Holyfield before the Douglas fight. "What I do hurts.'" Asked how Holyfield responds to the treatment, Kennett says, "He sings—spirituals, rock, soul; he has the most glorious voice."
On this day, Holyfield works eight sweaty rounds against three different opponents, while Duva, Benton, assistant trainer Ronnie Shields, Hallmark and Jordan watch from the ring apron. "The biggest problem has been getting him to bend and roll and body punch," says Duva. "Turned out the problem was in the lower back. We had Marya, Chase and Tim working on it, and it's clearing up."
Benton is eager to talk about Foreman. "We just want to keep him busy early," he says. "Stick him, stab him, pepper him up and make him miss. Keep him thinking. Start that mental tiredness."
Holyfield has thought a lot about what he needs to do to Foreman. "I don't see it any other way than him just coming out and flat trying to knock me out," Holy-field says. "If he doesn't, he's fighting a losing battle. I have to weather the storm and then use my quickness—hit him with four-, five-, six-punch combinations and get his respect. I have to convince him he's in the wrong ring."