ZURICH // Evander Holyfield is returning to the ring at age 46 because he wants to become the undisputed heavyweight champion again. Holyfield will fight the seven-foot-tall WBA champion Nikolai Valuev next month in Switzerland, aiming to become the oldest man to claim a world heavyweight title and the first to win it five times. "My goal is to be undisputed champion not just to win one title," Holyfield, nicknamed "The Real Deal", said at a news conference today at the Hallenstadion, where the fight will take place on Dec 20.
"I think people make too much about age," he said. "I haven't fought in a year but I will be ready." Holyfield underwent five hours of medical tests in Germany yesterday to show he was ready for the physical challenge of facing the Russian champion, who is likely to take a 100-pound (45 kg) advantage into the ring. Holyfield, who had his licence to box in New York state revoked three years ago, said he could do no more to reassure people worried about his health.
"They will have to see the fight and know for themselves," he said. "I have taken care of myself and if I couldn't fight then I wouldn't fight." Holyfield said he never expected to be "the old guy" in the ring, recalling that his first defence after becoming undisputed champion in 1990 was a points victory against the 42-year-old former heavyweight champion George Foreman. "I didn't want to fight him," Holyfield said. "My manager said he (Foreman) earned his shot so do it. I did and it was a tough fight."
Foreman went on to become the oldest man to win a heavyweight title at 45, knocking out Holyfield's conqueror Michael Moorer. Holyfield has reunited with his trainer Tommy Brooks and his first professional manager, Ken Sanders, to try to regain the WBA title he last lost in 2001 to John Ruiz. Sanders said the fighter's publicised financial problems were solved and he was coming back for a title shot rather than the money.