Boxing: The pundit who got it right

Ron Borges of the Boston Globe was the only writer to predict Holyfield's stunning victory. Here is his preview...
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The smart money says Evander Holyfield has no chance tonight against Mike Tyson, and so do the smart boxing people. If I was smart I never would have become a sportswriter, which may explain why I feel Holyfield will stop Tyson.

Tyson seems overconfident, sure not only that he will beat Holyfield, but that "he's not in my class". Tyson has been intimidating people for so long that he seems to have forgotten what happened the two nights he was unable to do that. On one, he lost to Buster Douglas. On the other, he had the second-toughest fight of his life against Razor Ruddock. This much is sure: he won't intimidate Holyfield.

Could Tyson win in one or two rounds, as most expect? With his punching power, sure. Could he lose just as quickly? Yes, and even though Holyfield has looked tired and well past his prime in his last few fights, I think he will win. Why? This time Holyfield will keep punching until it's over or his arms fall off.

No one could have a better perspective on the fight than Douglas. He's been hit in the mouth by both Tyson and Holyfield, so his point of view is an educated one. "I think Evander will surprise a lot of people," said Douglas. "The thing is, Tyson hasn't been hit by anyone in five years. The guys he's fought since he came back haven't hit him. Holyfield will do that. Mike will get hit Saturday night, and you may see a different reaction than you've seen in the past."

That is one thing Holyfield is banking on, but not the only one.

Holyfield is an underrated puncher, the only man to have dropped Riddick Bowe and Ray Mercer, and he sent each down with one shot. He did the same to Douglas, who weighed more than 240lb (17st) when Holyfield flattened him. If he could do that to men who outweighed him by 20-30lb, why will that job not be easier against an opponent his own size?

Second, this will be the first time Holyfield has fought someone his own size since he was a cruiserweight, with one exception - Bobby Czyz, whom he pummeled half blind. With no size disadvantage, Holyfield's power should be enhanced.

Third, as Douglas pointed out, it has been more than five years since Tyson was hit in the face. Unlike his last four fights, it is highly unlikely Holyfield will come into the ring trembling, and it is clear he will fire punches at Tyson, because that is all he has ever done. "You can't win if you don't hit the guy," Holyfield said. "Everybody knows I will be trying to hit Mike Tyson."

Fourth, intimidation has long been one of Tyson's strongest allies, but it may do him little good tonight. If Tyson is to win, he will have to do it himself. Holyfield will not help him.

Lastly, Holyfield will try to win this fight on the inside, where Tyson has not been as effective. Many of Tyson's opponents have been able to smother his power with success, so look for Holyfield to get inside and try to land a wicked uppercut on the break that he is hoping will change Tyson's mind about just how much he wants to be champion.

Oddly, for all the talk of how fit and focused Tyson is supposed to be, he came in the heaviest of his career, weighing in at 222lb, while Holyfield was his usual taut 215. When the two stood facing each other for the pre- fight photos, Tyson stared a hole through Holyfield, who broke into a wide grin before saying: "I'm not the man of fear. I'm the man of sound mind because that's what God has given me."

Reprinted by permission of the Boston Globe