The morning workout is over. The kids and the suits are gone. A light rain begins to fall as Holyfield slides into the backseat of his dark blue Mercedes sedan, parked in the rocky lot beside the gym. A young man named James Henderson, an aspiring rap artist and the brother of sparring partner Al Evans, approaches the car. After being introduced to Holyfield, Henderson, standing in the rain, performs a rap song he says he has just composed for the occasion. The words, staccato-quick and clear, are directed to Foreman and end with the lines: "When you wake up from the blow you felt/ Evander Holyfield still got the heavyweight belt."
The champion throws back his head and laughs with delight. "That's all right," he says. "That's all right."
Even if Holyfield keeps his title, as he is favored to do, the Foreman fight may do little to dramatically change his image, which is essentially that of a quiet, workmanlike athlete not given to making speeches or even to indulging in the obligatory prefight hype. More than that, though, there is the perception that Holy-field is simply not the best heavyweight in the world and that he owns the championship belt by mere happenstance. Thus, fighting a 42-year-old man is a bit of a no-win situation.
Holyfield needs to beat Tyson to prove that he is not a pretender, but the Ruddock rematch makes a 1991 fight with Tyson unlikely. Holyfield says he is ready to fight Tyson, but King, who tried to have Holyfield stripped of the WBC portion of the championship for denying Tyson the first title defense, now says he thinks he'll make Holyfield wait.
Though Holyfield is outwardly unconcerned at this most recent turn of events, his critique of Tyson-Ruddock I shows his eagerness. " Tyson fights so reckless," says Holyfield. "He gets off-balance. It would be so easy to hit him with one shot and get him out of there."
Until that time, the heavyweight champion of the world will continue to work just as hard. "Every fight I have," says Holyfield, "I have to earn my respect."