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Brian's Boxing Mailbag (Evander Holyfield vs. Bernard Hopkins?, BJ Penn Upset)

Email bag hosted by Brian Wilbur

Hello RSR readers, I thank you for checking out my mailbag.  In this week’s mini edition of my mailbag we talk about the action over the weekend (Evander Holyfield’s win over Frans Botha and the UFC 112 action), where Holyfield goes from here, and David Haye’s credibility in the United States.

I will be back with a full-sized mailbag next week covering the promising fights set for this weekend, primarily Sergio Martinez vs. Kelly Pavlik and Lucian Bute vs. Edison Miranda.  I know some might laugh, but as a fan of the heavyweight division I am also looking forward to the Friday Night Fights main event of Tony “The Tiger” Thompson vs. Owen “What the Heck” Beck.  Thompson should win handily but Beck has never been in a boring fight that I have seen. 

Onto the emails, the first submission is about the somehow still relevant 47 year old heavyweight contender Evander Holyfield. 

Holyfield Still Winning

So I was suckered into buying the Evander Holyfield vs. Frans Botha PPV.  Sure, call me a fool but I got all nostalgic thinking about the 1990’s when Holyfield (and Botha for that matter) were really good heavyweights.  The great memories from younger years made this PPV irresistible.

Holyfield didn’t look very good early on.  I see this fight as almost a clone of Botha’s fight with Mike Tyson.  Botha did well early on, boxing and using his jab, but then could not keep it up and ended up getting knocked out.  Botha, a known steroid user, I guess doesn’t have the goods unless he’s juicing. 

Evander did what he had to do to win just like he did in his prime.  He is a warrior still even though he is almost 48 years old.  You could clearly tell that he was past his prime in the early sluggish rounds but he never gave up and never stopped adjusting to Botha, until he made the correct adjustment to win the fight.  I am not delusional, I don’t think Evander can beat a Klitschko or anything, but he would probably knock off a few of the scrubs in the top 10 currently.  What do you think?



I’m sorry you were made a sucker by the promoters of this card!  Former great champions already have a built in audience so promoters take advantage of this fact by overcharging.  Botha was ancient and past his prime for a heavyweight boxer at 41 years of age, but he had a 6 year age advantage against Holyfield! 

Evander though is a modern wonder, keeping his body in the best shape possible.  But can he beat some heavyweights in the top ten in his current state as you suggest?  Let’s look at the Ring Magazine top ten:

C – Wladimir Klitschko
1.Vitali Klitschko
2.David Haye
3.Alexander Povetkin
4.Eddie Chambers
5.Ruslan Chagaev
6.Chris Arreola
7.Denis Boytsov
8.Nikolay Valuev
9.Alexander Dimitrenko
10.Toney Thompson

Out of those guys, Evander has no chance against either Klitschko, Povetkin, Chambers, Haye, Chagaev, Arreola, or Thompson.  I am not sure about the completely unproven Denis Boytsov because he has never fought anyone good enough to use as a barometer.  I am actually shocked that Boytsov is in the Ring magazine top 10 despite never fighting a top 50 contender.  That leaves Dimitrenko and Valuev as possible opponents that Holyfield might be able to beat.  I’m not impressed with Dimitrenko, though his size, youth, and jab could present problems for Evander. 

As for Valuev, we have already seen that Holyfield can beat Valuev.  Evander defeated Nikolay Valuev more definitively than David Haye did as far as I am concerned.  Holyfield did not get the nod from the judges like Haye did but clearly proved that he still had the ability to beat a top 10 heavyweight. 

What Now For Holyfield?

Just watched Evander Holyfield knock out Frans Botha.  That will probably be enough for him to get a fight against either a belt holder or a real contender.  Who do you think he fights next?  Who should he fight next?  I know Bernard Hopkins was calling out David Haye after his win over Roy Jones.  Why doesn’t he fight Holyfield first in order to prove that he can fight at heavyweight?

-Anthony M.


The rumor is that Holyfield could fight the winner of Danny Williams vs. Sam Sexton.  Holyfield’s camp also wants a match with one of the Klitschko brothers but that is not going to happen.  The Klitschko’s have more respect for boxing than to give Evander a title shot. 

I actually really like your idea of Evander Holyfield vs. Bernard Hopkins.  Both are in their mid to late 40’s but are still much better off than other boxers who are in their late 30’s.  Both guys still have the know how but lack the energy to pull the trigger.  I expect a pretty boring fight with a lot of posturing since neither has the ability to throw more than a couple punches per round.  Neither has crushing power but both have good chins so a knockout is unlikely. 

Still, I see this as a competitive match up even if not an exciting one, as well as one that would be easy to sell due to the name recognition of both men.  I am very curious as to how the odds makers would handicap this one.  I suspect that Hopkins would be a very slight favorite, maybe -130 to Holyfield’s Even odds.  Holyfield’s size advantage would counteract Hopkins’s better current form almost enough to even up the odds. 

David Haye’s Reputation Stateside

Hey Brian,

Hows things?

Just read your most recent mailbag and in particular the first letter regarding the David Haye.  I’m very glad to see here is a guy that is finally getting his due in the States.  I have watched David for a while now and have long been of the opinion he is well positioned to go down as a great Heavyweight Champ.

I believe he has the tools to help him achieve this.  He has very quick hands for a heavyweight and very accurate hands, see the first 30 seconds of Ruiz fight for an example, he has great foot movement for such a big guy – Ruiz was never able to pin him against the ropes and to get Haye to stand and trade.  He has good head movement and that right hand has huge power (his left is no powder puff by the way).  Most of all though when I hear him talk, when you look past the PPV selling bravado, you have a guy making big promises that he continually backs up.

He gets criticized for going for the Klitschkos too early but surely a heavyweight who head hunts the biggest and best is something we need?  He knows he has the chance to make a huge difference to the heavyweight scene, imagine the impact a smaller, fast, athletic, in-shape heavyweight who looks for the KO first and foremost would have on Boxing.  An exciting Heavyweight Champ!!!  Imagine such a thing!!!

But behind this growing reputation in the US there are still doubts, well you put it best when you said that “you get the feeling that he is hiding some vulnerabilities, such as a weak chin, poor stamina, or mental lapses.  We’ll see in the future if those shortcomings reveal themselves”.

The stamina I understand but his performances since the Carl Thompson loss have shown a marked difference.  He forced himself to go into the later rounds for a few fights.  He has reigned in his seek and destroy tendency (a bit), as we saw with Valuev.  He looked sharp in the final rounds against Ruiz too.  His chin reputation has come about due to Thompson beating him which was down to Haye going mad for the KO in early rounds and wasting all his energy.  As I’ve said he has learned.  Mormeck put him down but surely the fortitude and ability to get back up and win shows strong legs, great recovery and a rather large set of cajones.  Mormeck hits like a freight train let’s remember.  The chin doubt has always annoyed me slightly as I think it’s unfounded or at least built on sand.  Lets face it, a KO loss to Vitali does not a chinless wonder make.

To compare Haye’s reputation, Adamek gets a lot of credit and some writers still give him more chance against the Klitschkos over Haye (see Mike Plunkett’s article dated April 6th).  Despite Adamek not being as impressive in cruiserweight or at heavyweight and not putting in the performances.  Are we getting in the situation were we are favoring a Frazier rather than an Ali over Foreman?  (BTW I am NOT saying Haye is Ali).  I’m sure a lot has to do with Adamek getting the exposure in the US.  It should be remembered though that whilst Adamek was in the US, Haye went to France and Germany to dethrone reigning champions in their own backyards.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I really like Haye, watch this space – something very special is coming up.

P.S. He has combos in his arsenal.  And sorry for the very very long email.


-Gerard McLaughlin


I am a fan of David Haye for all of the reasons you state.  He is an exciting heavyweight for a change who is loaded with raw talent and athletic ability.  The thing about Haye going after the best fighters may or may not be just an act, the same way Joe Calzaghe used to call out the best even though he had not intention of taking the chance.  Haye is calling out the Klitschko brothers but if you notice, something always comes up.  He has already pulled out of a match with Vitali Klitschko.  The rumored talks of a fight against Wladimir Klitschko next are all but dead due to Haye having to pay “step aside” money.  Strange that some unforeseen circumstance always gets in the way of Haye fighting a Klitschko.  I would wait to commend Haye for seeking out the top opponents until he actually goes through with one of those fights. 

I said last week that I sense vulnerabilities in Haye’s game.  You defend Haye against my suspicions and you could turn out to be right.  You could also turn out to be correct when you say that Haye is a great heavyweight in the making.  I am not nearly as optimistic, but watching Haye try to reach that level will be a lot of fun. 

Yes, some writers give Tomasz Adamek more credit and respect than Haye, but I am not one of those writers.  I still can’t get the one-sided loss to Chad Dawson out of my head when it comes to Adamek.  Haye is stronger, faster, and more explosive than Adamek so is probably better suited for heavyweight. 
Neither guy can beat a Klitschko in my opinion.  Haye upsetting Wladimir would surprise me the least because of his power and fast hands (similar to Corrie Sanders), but I still think it is extremely unlikely.  So I am not on the David Haye bandwagon like you are.  However feel free to email me again later saying “I told you so” if he ends up beating one of the Klitschko brothers.  I still stand by my instincts that Haye has some vulnerabilities waiting to be exposed by the right opponent.  Someone like Chris Arreloa or Sam Peter could be tough for him since they have the chin and power to stick around an pressure Haye for twelve rounds. 

UFC 112 Recap

I guess BJ Penn wasn’t “Invincible” like they were hyping him up to be LOL!  At least Anderson Silva did what he was supposed to do.  Well I guess he did, although he could have tried a little harder to close the show. 



Penn losing to Frankie Edgar was a huge upset.  The odds on that fight were 8 to 1 or more in favor of Penn.  With those kind of odds, the bookies are basically saying that Penn has no chance of losing so don’t bother placing a bet because you’ll have to risk 1 million dollars to win 50 cents, or something like that.  With an unexpected upset of that magnitude you can almost guarantee a rematch to see if the first fight was a fluke or not. 

As for Anderson Silva, the guy needs to fight somebody to get my respect.  Yes he can clown no-hopers like Demian Maia, but when is he going to fight someone who can challenge him?  Silva is going to have to fight and beat Quentin Jackson, Lyoto Machida, or Shogun Rua if he wants my respect as the best pound for pound MMA fighter.

That is all I have time for this week.  Send in your boxing or MMA related emails and I will feature them in next week’s mailbag.  Thanks all and take care.

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