Tyson’s ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend – icons warn against Holyfield fight

After overdosing on sporting nostalgia, it’s difficult not to get wrapped up in all this talk of a third fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield.

Our imaginations have been captured because, truth is, we want everything to come back right now, from family visits, to our local pub.

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Tyson and Holfield could fight 23 years on from their infamous rematch

But the general consensus from those within the sport is that these legendary boxing careers ought to stay in lockdown.

Watching Tyson demolish the pads sent shivers down the spine, and you start to question… could he?

However, it’s a question better left unanswered, because the reality will only serve to underwhelm and tarnish our memories of two legends.

Tyson vs Holyfield III – what we know so far

  • Tyson announces ‘I’m back’ with ferocious workout video
  • Holyfield responds to Tyson’s video and also declares ‘I’m back’
  • Holyfield reveals talks are under way for a trilogy fight with Tyson

It’s like watching Premier League Years for the umpteenth time and beginning to wonder if a 42-year-old Thierry Henry could still do a job for Arsenal.

But while the thought of Henry finessing one into the bottom-right corner exists only in our imaginations, Tyson and Holyfield, 53 and 57, are serious about this.

Even if it is just an exhibition fight, the thought raises concern. talkSPORT has spoken to various people from the world of boxing, and most are strongly against it…

Evander Holyfield training

Johnny Nelson (cruiserweight legend) – NO

“I don’t know what they’ll improve on with regards to their reputations.

“People will get nostalgic and think of these guys in their heyday, but they forget about when Evander Holyfield just went on too long and when Tyson was losing to Danny Williams.

“If they’re going to fight, it’s probably only to face each other. If it’s an exhibition, how can Tyson do an exhibition?

“What made him so intriguing and enticing was his unpredictability – that edge and that fight. You never knew what was going to happen next.

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Nelson is widely considered the greatest cruiserweight of all time

“I could never imagine Tyson tipping and tapping, I just can’t. It’s not in his DNA.

“As a spar, great. As a fight with any meaning, I wouldn’t mind seeing it but I wouldn’t endorse it.

“People are going to be let down, they’re not the fighters they were 25 years ago.

“When I was 48, I was talking about fighting Marco Huck as a world title fight. I could do it against him, but I knew if I got in the ring with some youngster that had pace on me, then I was in a bad situation.

“When you get injured in training, you can get over it in a few days when you’re younger. When you’re older, it takes weeks to get over it. Nigel Benn is a prime example.

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Mike Tyson has got himself back in shape

“In our head, we have all the ability, all the wisdom and all the knowledge to beat any fighter that we’re watching now on TV. Unfortunately, your body reminds you that you can’t do it anymore.

“With age comes wisdom, but unfortunately, we lose youth. You’ll only be underwhelmed. It’s a fact.

“The youngsters of today, unless they’re mad boxing fans, they won’t be aware of how formidable these fighters were.

“When they see two old men jumping in the ring having a bash-about, they’ll think, ‘What’s all this about?’

“It would be a shame to tarnish such ferocious reputations.”

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Nelson held the WBO cruiserweight title for six years between 1999 and 2005

Glenn McCrory (Tyson’s ex-sparring partner and former cruiserweight champion) – NO

“If they’re doing a three-round exhibition for charity, then great. It’ll be good fun and it’s in good nature.

“If they’re talking about having the real fight then I’m totally against it and I hope someone sees sense and doesn’t allow it to happen.

“Tyson was embarrassingly beaten by Kevin McBride 15-years ago and all he’s done since then is smoke marajuana.

“Anybody can look good for 15 seconds on the pads – they don’t hit back. Getting punched in the head is a different matter.

“What have any of them got to prove? It can only be farcical. People look up to them, they’re the heroes.

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Mike Tyson last boxed in 2005 in a losing effort to Kevin McBride

“I’d call Tyson a friend, I was in his camp. I’d deplore anyone making money out of these guys, they’re legends.

“Holyfield’s beat Tyson twice and you know what Tyson’s like. If somebody whacks him on the chin, I know Mike, he’ll hit them back. All of those memories will come back.

“You just don’t want to see two old guys looking shadows of what they once were.

“For seven seconds, I’m amazing on the pads! I could probably do three minutes.

“Punches hurt, punches do damage. In their mid-to-late fifties, they don’t need jarring punches in the head. It’s madness, it’s complete madness.”

 

Derek Chisora (current heavyweight) – YES

“I think he [Holyfield] should fight Mike Tyson. I’d like to see it.

“Shannon Briggs should also fight – I said to David [Haye] he should fight Shannon Briggs and he goes, ‘No, I’m not ready for that yet’ – but he might.

“Anybody can come out of retirement. Remember that. Boxing is an unbelievable sport and it’s an addiction.

“You retire and tell yourself you don’t want to go back, but after six or seven months you realise you’re shadow boxing in your garden, like Tony [Bellew] who tells me he’s retired.

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Chisora is all for a third showdown between Tyson and Holyfield

“You’re hitting the bag, going for a run and then something in the back of your mind says, ‘I think I can do it again’.

“It’s difficult to retire and those who do want to do it become trainers like Ricky Hatton. He loves boxing so much and is doing well right now as a trainer.

“It’s inside you and I’m scared of the day I have to put the gloves down.”

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Chisora also predicts a potential comeback for Haye and Briggs

Ricky Hatton (former welterweight champion) – NO

“Mike’s one of the most high-profile people to go down the wrong path.

“But recently, he’s lost a load of weight, got himself in great shape, and a great mental place.

“Why does he need to go and prove himself in the boxing ring again? I don’t get it.

“We all have our reasons for making a comeback, I had my own reasons, I felt I let a lot of people down.

“I can’t see any good coming from it.”

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Hatton can relate to Tyson’s story

Dave Allen (current heavyweight) – NO

“I don’t like it, personally. Fighting is a young man’s game.

“I’m 28-years old, I’ve had a lot of hard fights, and people are telling me I’m coming to the end of my career.

“People watch a little ten-second clip of Tyson on the pads and say he could come back and beat everybody.

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Holyfield was infamously bitten on the ear by Tyson

“I remember 18-years ago, he lost to Lennox Lewis inside seven one-sided rounds.

“Then he lost to Danny Williams, then he lost to Kevin McBride. This was 15-years ago.

“Tyson’s one of the greatest fighters of all time, but you can’t turn back the clock and he’ll never be what he was.

“So I don’t really want to see it.”

Tyson's ex-sparring partner and a boxing legend - icons warn against Holyfield fight

Dave Allen reckons 28 is pushing it for a fighter – never mind 57!

Spencer Oliver (former super-bantamweight champion) – NO

“It’s insane, the lockdown must be getting to them.

“Of course we’d want to watch it because it would be so intriguing, but should it happen? Definitely not.

“Listen, it’s a young man’s sport. These two guys, there’s a lot of ego going on, so they’re going to go for it.

“The punch resistance isn’t as good, so it would be stupid.

“Honestly though, I would probably watch it, just because it’s Tyson, and I think everyone would.

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“Afterwards, you’d think why did I watch that? I’d watch it even though I don’t agree with it and I don’t think it should happen.

“It would just be watching two old men fight, and it would be a shame.

“I was impressed with Tyson on the pads, but you should see me hitting the pads, I’m unbelievable! But I know in reality, pads don’t hit back. You get in the ring and you’ve got no punch resistance.

“You’re half-a-yard off the pace, to use a football term. You’re half-a-yard slower and you see things, but you can’t get out the way of them.

“That split second isn’t enough time and it leaves you, it leaves everyone.”

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