x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Holyfield to meet Valuev for WBA title

Evander Holyfield will seek to win back a major heavyweight title when he fights the Russian Nikolai Vaulev next month.

Evander Holyfield will aim to follow in George Foreman's steps by being a heavyweight champion at the age of 46.
Evander Holyfield will aim to follow in George Foreman's steps by being a heavyweight champion at the age of 46.

GENEVA // Evander Holyfield, at the age of 46, will seek to win back a major heavyweight title when he fights Russian giant Nikolai Valuev for the WBA crown next month. The fight will take place Dec 20 in the Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland, arena management announced. Holyfield has not fought since losing an unanimous decision to the then WBO champ Sultan Ibragimov a year ago. The fighter from Atlanta known as the Real Deal has a 49-9-2 (win/lose/draw) career record and insists he wants to keep fighting until he regains the title again.

He also has been suffering from financial problems. Holyfield agreed in October to give his 10-year-old son a $100,000 college fund while facing the threat of possible jail time and an auction on his home. In the summer he failed to make three straight $3,000 monthly child-support payments. Holyfield last held a major heavyweight title after winning a decision over John Ruiz for the WBA belt in 2000, subsequently losing and then drawing a bout against the same opponent in further title fights in 2001.

He challenged Chris Byrd for the vacant IBF belt in 2002, losing a unanimous decision. The 7-foot, 330-pound Valuev once referred to as the Beast from the East but now preferring The Russian Giant won a unanimous decision over Ruiz in August to claim the vacant WBA crown. He told the Zurich tabloid Blick that he was excited to face Holyfield. "I'm taking this fight very seriously, said the fighter with 49-1 record and 34 knockouts. Holyfield is a strong opponent. Ten years ago I would not have dreamed of getting into the ring with this champion."

The fight will be the biggest in Zurich since 1971, when Muhammad Ali knocked out Juergen Blin of Germany in the 7th round. Holyfield's late bid for the title is not unprecedented. George Foreman was also aged 46 when he last defended the IBF heavyweight title in 1995. *AP