Holyfield divinely certain he should return to ring

June 23, 1994|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

Retired two-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield has done a lot of praying since he lost his title in April and retired with what doctors described as a "stiff" heart. The answer he says he's gotten back from the Lord is crystal clear: Fight.

"This message is from the Lord," Holyfield said yesterday of his intent to return to the ring by next year. "This is the direction I've gotten from the Lord."

Holyfield ended a distinguished 10-year career (30-2, 22 KOs) after he lost his World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation titles to Michael Moorer in Las Vegas in April. Doctors determined soon after the fight that Holyfield had a "noncompliant left ventricle" that prevents sufficient oxygen from being pumped to muscle and tissue.

"I'm healed but people don't believe it," Holyfield said while visiting with executives of Head Sportswear Inc., at their Columbia headquarters. The athletic apparel and shoe company signed the boxer in March to a two-year endorsement contract. The company plans to use Holyfield to market a new line of cross-training clothes and shoes.

"The only way people are going to believe I'm healed is if I come back and fight and win. Even if I went out and ran a marathon, people wouldn't believe I'm healed. This is the only way," said Holyfield.

Before he fights again, Holyfield would have to pass extensive tests -- more rigid than for most boxers -- in order to get licensed to return to the ring. His heart condition never showed up in any boxing commission tests before.

His goal: A third heavyweight championship.

"I'll go out, I'll win, then I'll step back down," said Holyfield, who has earned more than $100 million in his boxing career -- more than any fighter in history.

During his lunch with several of Head's top international and U.S. executives, the trim-looking, 205-pound champ appeared relaxed and happy, telling humorous anecdotes about his trips to France and Japan for bouts.

He was upbeat about his health and boxing prospects.

Even if doctors advise against a return to professional boxing, Holyfield says it won't matter. His mind is made up.

If he were to return and regain his title, it wouldn't be the first time. Holyfield beat Riddick Bowe in a rematch at Caesars Palace last November to become the third heavyweight in history to regain the title.

Holyfield, 31, said he was told by a doctor who performed a 20-minute EKG test on his heart in Atlanta June 16 that the tests showed "better" results than tests that revealed his heart condition in April.

When asked if he was told his heart condition had improved, Holyfield said, "No. He just said the test results were better. To me that means the heart is better and I can fight."

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