This time, a method to the madness

Holyfield says his anger will be under control

November 11, 1999|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

The deeply religious Evander Holyfield said he had "a revelation" that he would knock out Lennox Lewis in the third round of their first heavyweight title fight.

But in a recent conference call, Holyfield revealed a deeper reason for his prognostication: That revelation was out of anger at being labeled a hypocrite by his opponent.

Lewis, 34, had gotten under Holyfield's skin after implying that Holyfield -- who is married but has fathered five children out of wedlock -- wasn't quite so holy.

As a result, Holyfield said, he wasn't fighting smart -- he was fighting mad.

The bout, on March 13 at Madison Square Garden, ended in a controversial draw.

"What he said to me put me in a position where I said, `I'm going to knock you out in three rounds.' I got a little distracted by it," said Holyfield, 37, the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association champion. "I just wanted to go out there and knock him out, show him what a hypocrite is. I wasn't in the mode I was supposed to be in during the fight."

Holyfield (36-3-1, 25 KOs) says he will be calmer and much more focused for his rematch with Lewis (34-1-1, 27 KOs), the World Boxing Council champion, on Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

Both fighters will earn $15 million. In the first fight, Holyfield received $20 million, while Lewis earned $10 million.

The winner will be the heavyweight division's first unified champion since Riddick Bowe in 1992.

Holyfield still maintains he did not lose the first fight.

Judge Stanley Christodoulou of South Africa had Lewis winning, 116-113. American judge Eugenia Williams awarded the fight to Holyfield, 115-113. The third judge, Britain's Larry O'Connell, made a public apology for scoring the fight 115-115.

But Holyfield makes no apologies for failing to admit he lost, despite CompuBox numbers, which had Lewis out-landing him by a wide margin.

Holyfield implied that Lewis' best shot of the night was the cheap shot about his personal life.

"Anytime a guy as big as Lennox can hit somebody that many times and not hurt him, you can tell he's only sticking his hands out there to keep from being hit," said Holyfield, who later admitted he didn't throw punches when he had the opportunities.

Holyfield complained of "an upset stomach and cramping legs" during the fight. "I just didn't feel well, and I thought several times of just quitting," he said.

"You watch the tapes and ask yourself, why were you getting jabbed? You got inside, so why didn't you punch? You have to know that you have something to do with those things happening," said Holyfield. "I go into the ring feeling I'd rather die than not give my all in there, regardless of how I feel."

Lewis, on the other hand, "was patient, didn't do much," Holyfield said. "He stands there, taunts you. I got a little impatient. He was able to hold when he wanted to, fight when he wanted to."

Don Turner, Holyfield's trainer, said his fighter has watched tapes of the first fight "over and over" to figure out what went wrong, as he did before avenging losses to Bowe and Michael Moorer.

"Evander's never been this vicious or this intense," Turner said. "We have 6-foot-5 guys, 6-7 guys, 6-8 guys. One worked three days and left. Another worked two days and left," Turner said. "We changed sparring partners every day."

When Holyfield is at his best, such as in return fights with Moorer and Bowe, and, in his lone fight with Buster Douglas, those fighters never seemed to be the same. The same could be said of Dwight Qawi, Mike Tyson, and Alex Stewart -- two-time losers to Holyfield.

"The second time around, Evander's more determined. He has a mind-set about what he has to do to make a better showing," Turner said. "Evander's the best in the game at being better the second time around."

Turner differed slightly, however, with his fighter about the pace of the first fight, saying it was more of an indication of Holyfield's inactivity than what Lewis did. Turner said Holyfield "can make this fight" by stepping it up and challenging Lewis' heart.

"Every time Holyfield [stood and] fought him, Lewis did not want to fight him, and Evander just walked right through whatever Lennox was doing. He got where he wanted to be and dominated," Turner said.

Fight facts

Who: Evander Holyfield, Fayetteville, Ga., vs. Lennox Lewis, Britain, 12 rounds, for the unified world heavyweight title.

When: Saturday

Where: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas

TV: Pay-per-view

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