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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Evander Holyfield
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FEATURE   Photo: Evander Holyfield winning the World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Heavyweight title against Francois Botha. 

Since the World Boxing Federation was originally founded by American Larry Carrier in 1988, many of the sport’s biggest names have won a WBF title, and proudly defended the blue, red and gold belt all over the world.

In the Champions Of The Past Series we take a closer look at some of the boxers who held WBF titles in years gone by, from lesser known champions to world renowned fighters, legends of the sport and current or future Hall of Famers.


Sometimes its just too comprehensive to go into too much detail about a fighters career. This is the case with one of the best of all time, the legendary former World Boxing Federation (WBF) World Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield.

But the career of “The Real Deal” is so amazing, that even when going through the high-lights only, it is more than enough volume for the next edition of our “Champions Of The Past”.

The youngest of nine children, Holyfield was born on October 19, 1962 in Atmore, Alabama. His family later moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where Evander was raised in a crime-ridden Housing project and started boxing at the age of seven.

As an amateur he compiled a record of 160-14 (75), and won bronze in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles after losing by controversial disqualification to New Zealand´s Kevin Barry in the semi finals. Following that disappointment, he decided it was time to turn professional.

Holyfield signed a deal with promotional firm Main Events, along with other amateur stand-outs and Olympic team-mates Mark Breland, Meldrick Taylor, Virgil Hill, Pernell Whitaker and Tyrell Biggs, and they all made their pro debuts on November 15, 1984 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Fighting at Light Heavyweight, Holyfield scored a six-round decision over Lionel Byram (9-1-2), and a year later he was 7-0 (4) with victories over the likes of Mark Rivera (12-1), Tyrone Booze (10-3-2), who would go on to win the WBO World Cruiserweight title in 1992, and Jeff Meachem (6-1).

By December of 1985 he had developed into a Cruiserweight, and beating Anthony Davis (17-3), Chisanda Mutti (23-5-2), Jesse Shelby (12-2-1) and Terry Mims (13-12) set him up to challenge WBA World Champion Dwight Muhammad Qawi (26-2-1) in only his twelfth paid outing on July 12, 1986 in Atlanta.

Many felt that the hard-nosed Qawi, with the experience of eight previous world championship fights, would be too big a task for Holyfield, but after one of the best Cruiserweight battles in the divisions history, the home-town hero was declared the winner by split decision.

Holyfield defended the WBA title against Henry Tillman (14-1) before adding the IBF world crown with a third-round stoppage of Ricky Parkey (20-4) in May of 1997. Parkey would go on to win the WBF World Cruiserweight title three years later.

Title defenses against Ossie Ocasio (21-4-1) and Qawi in a rematch followed. Ocasio was stopped in eleven rounds, and Qawi didn't pose quite as many problems as he did in their first fight, as he was dropped twice and stopped in round four.

On April 9, 1988 in Las Vegas, Holyfield also won the WBC world title in a unification fight against Carlos De Leon (44-4), stopping the Puero Rican in eight. This turned out to be his last fight at Cruiserweight, as he made his Heavyweight debut against James Tillis (38-13-1) three months later, winning by TKO 5.

Former Heavyweight World Champions Pinklon Thomas (29-2-1) and Michael Dokes (37-1-2), and contenders Adilson Rodrigues (35-2), Alex Stewart (24-0) and Seamus McDonagh (19-1-1) were the next victims, leading Holyfield to a shot at WBC, WBA and IBF World Champion James “Buster” Douglas.

Douglas (29-4-1) had famously defeated Mike Tyson in Tokyo in February of 1990 to become champion, the biggest upset in Heavyweight history, but when he made his first defense the following October in Las Vegas, he was destroyed in three rounds by Holyfield.

George Foreman (69-2), Bert Cooper (26-7), also a future WBF World Champion, and Larry Holmes (54-3) all failed to dethrone Holyfield, before Riddick Bowe (31-0) did the job on November 13, 1992 in a Heavyweight classic in front of 18.000 spectators at the Thomas & Mack Centre in Las Vegas.

They re-matched a year later at Caesars Palace, and Holyfield got his revenge after another great fight, winning by scores of 115-113, 115-114 and 114-114. This was the fight with the infamous Fan-Man incident, where a man flew into the outdoor arena on a motorized para-glider, crashing into the ring ropes.

Holyfield was on the wrong end of another majority decision, at the same venue on April 22, 1994, when Michael Moorer (34-0) ended his second reign. In May of 1995 he returned with a win over Ray Mercer (23-2-1), before a rubber-match against Bowe was signed for the following November.

Bowe had won the WBO World title since their last encounter, but that belt was not on the line and, besides a guarantee of $8 million each, they only fought for pride and glory. Holyfield scored a knock-down in round six, but Bowe came back strong to drop him twice and win by stoppage in round eight.

At this point there were already plenty of fans and experts claiming that Holyfield was done, so when he looked very lackluster in a fifth round victory over Bobby Czyz (44-6) six months later, it didnt bode well for his chances against WBA ruler Mike Tyson (45-1) on November 9, 1996.

But Holyfield shocked everyone, except for himself and his own team, when he stopped Tyson in eleven rounds to become only the second fighter in history, after Muhammad Ali, to become a three-time world heavyweight champion.

The rematch, as every sports fan will know, was even more shocking as Tyson was disqualified in the third round for repeatedly biting Holyfield´s ear.

On November 8, 1997 Holyfield added the IBF title by stopping Michael Moorer (now 39-1) in a rematch. Moorer, who had picked up the vacant IBF strap after losing the unified titles in a massive surprise against George Foreman, was knocked down five times before retiring after the seventh round.

In a September 1998 homecoming title-defense in Atlanta, Vaughn Bean (31-1) couldn't prevent a unification fight against WBC champion Lennox Lewis (34-1), as Holyfield cruised to a wide unanimous decision to set up the mega-fight against the Brit.

Holyfield and Lewis fought to a draw on March 13, 1999, and kept their respective titles, but Lewis won the rematch (W12) exactly eight months later. Holyfield later regained the WBA title, vacated by Lewis, when he defeated John Ruiz (36-3) to become the first four-time world Heavyweight champion in history.

From that point on it became very much an up-and-down ride for Holyfield. At the age of 38 he lost a rematch to Ruiz (L12), and drew in their third fight. Then he beat former world champion Hasim Rahman (35-3), who had won and lost against Lewis, putting him right back in the picture for another crack.

However, he came up short against Chris Byrd (35-2) for the vacant IBF world title, and when James Toney (66-4-2) stopped him in nine one-sided rounds and Larry Donald (41-3-2) easily out-pointed him, most were certain that Holyfield was done as a major force.

But, stubborn as they come, Holyfield went back to the drawing board. He took care of some injuries he felt were to blame for his poor showings against especially Toney and Donald, and started yet another comeback in the summer of 2006.

First Jeremy Bates (21-11-1) was halted in two rounds, then Fres Oquendo (26-3) was outpointed, before he got rid of Vinnie Maddalone (27-3) inside three rounds and Lou Savarese (46-6) survived the ten-round distance but lost clearly on points after being floored twice.

Those four wins put Holyfield in line for a shot at WBO World Champion Sultan Ibragimov (21-0-1) on October 13, 2007 in Moscow, Russia. While he lost a unanimous decision, he did well enough to be chosen for yet another chance at the WBA title fourteen months later against another Russian, Nicolay Valuev (49-1).

The tallest (2 m.13 cm.) and heaviest (almost 150 Kg.) world champion in history, Valuev was a big favorite against the much smaller legend (189 cm., less than 100 kg.). Valuev did get the victory by the narrowest of margins (114-114, 115-114, 116-112), but most observers felt Holyfield was robbed of the victory.

Almost pulling off the miracle against Valuev would in itself have been a fine ending to a magnificent career, but no one could tell Evander Holyfield to forget his dream of becoming a world heavyweight champion for the fifth time.

It would be over a year, but the opportunity finally came when he was matched against fellow former world champion Francois Botha (47-4-3) for the vacant WBF World title on April 10, 2010 at the Thomas & Mack Centre, the same venue where he fought Lewis, Moorer and Bowe in the past.

47 years old at the time, Holyfield became the oldest Heavyweight World Champion in history when he, after a closely fought contest, caught up with Botha in round eight, knocking the South African down with a right hand before forcing the stoppage.

On January 22, 2011 Holyfield retained the WBF World title when a fight against Sherman Williams (34-11-2) was ruled a No-Contest in round three, due to the champion´s left eye being cut as a result of an accidental clash of heads in the second round.

Less than four months later Holyfield traveled to Denmark, where he stopped local icon Brian Nielsen (64-2) in the tenth. The WBF title was not on the line, as Nielsen had not boxed in over nine years, and it turned out to be Holyfield´s last fight. However, he didn't officially announce his retirement until June of 2014.

After 27 years as a professional, compiling a record of 44-10-2 (29), world titles at Cruiserweight and Heavyweight, taking part in 27 World Championship fights, Evander Holyfield keeps himself busy these days promoting shows via his The Real Deal Boxing promotional company.

  Part 56: Peter Culshaw
  Part 55: Rolando Toyogon
  Part 54: Joaquin Velasquez
  Part 53: Steve Molitor
  Part 52: Nadya Hokmi
  Part 51: Bert Cooper
  Part 50: Alfred Kotey
  Part 49: Yosuke Nishijima
  Part 48: Wayne Rigby
  Part 47: Jesus Chong
  Part 46: Renata Szebeledi
  Part 45: Lester Ellis
  Part 44: Patrick Vungbo
  Part 43: Patrick Washington
  Part 42: Ric Siodora
  Part 41: Guy Waters
  Part 40: Natascha Ragosina
  Part 39: Nicky Cook
  Part 38: Fahprakorb Rakkiatgym
  Part 37: Felix Camacho
  Part 36: Homer Gibbins
  Part 35: Joe Bugner
  Part 34: Myriam Lamare
  Part 33: Darrin Morris
  Part 32: Suwito Lagola
  Part 31: Aaron Zarate
  Part 30: Tommy Small
  Part 29: Matthew Charleston
  Part 28: Jane Couch
  Part 27: Fahlan Sakkreerin
  Part 26: Kenny Keene
  Part 25: Yvan Mendy
  Part 24: Ronnie Magramo
  Part 23: Randall Yonker
  Part 22: Holly Holm
  Part 21: Vinnie Curto
  Part 20: Robin Reid
  Part 19: Lionel Butler
  Part 18: Mads Larsen
  Part 17: Ken Sigurani
  Part 16: Orlando Fernandez
  Part 15: Roger Turner
  Part 14: Roy Jones Jr.
  Part 13: Fitz Vanderpool
  Part 12: Steve Roberts
  Part 11: Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga
  Part 10: Junior Witter
  Part 9: Jimmy Thunder
  Part 8: Juan Lazcano
  Part 7: Jeff Malcolm
  Part 6: Ricky Parkey
  Part 5: Carl Daniels
  Part 4: Angel Manfredy
  Part 3: Samson Dutch Boy Gym
  Part 2: Greg Haugen
  Part 1: Johnny Nelson

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