Match Is Made Official Holmes Getting Shot At Holyfield

Posted: March 06, 1992

NEW YORK — It is official: Evander Holyfield will fight another guy who refuses to do anything more strenuous than beam at his grandchildren.

The undisputed heavyweight champion will defend his title against Larry Holmes, the 42-year-old former champion, on June 19 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, the fight's promoters announced yesterday.

The champion will earn about $19 million, and Holmes will make about $7 million.

Holmes, who held the title from 1978 to 1985, will be the second 40-plus ex-champion Holyfield has faced since winning the title from James "Buster" Douglas on Oct. 25, 1990.

Holyfield, 29, scored a unanimous decision over George Foreman, now 43, on April 19, 1991.

"I think age is individual," said Holmes, who has four children and two grandchildren. "Father Time catches up with some people quicker than others. I took care of myself."

Both camps yesterday poked fun at the age gap, with promoter Bob Arum serving as dean of the school of hype. Arum, saying that the ex-champion would take the current champion to school, conferred upon Holmes the "degree of teacher of pugilism." Holmes was presented with a cap and gown, which he donned immediately.

"Thank you very much," Holmes said, trying to keep from laughing during the news conference at the St. Regis Hotel. "This is something I've always wanted - a degree. But I didn't know I would get it through boxing."

Holmes then pointed to slide projections of Holyfield in action, and described how he would defeat the champion.

"Look where his hands are at," Holmes said, pointing to an image of the titleholder with his hands held low.

Then Holmes displayed a slide of himself throwing that textbook jab.

"This is me," he said. "What you see extended there is called the 'Holmes Hammer.' That will be thrown all night long, and it will land 90 percent of the time."

When Holyfield got his turn, he pointed to an unflattering slide projection of Holmes on the canvas, flat on his back, implying that a similar fate would befall him in June.

"We chose to fight Larry Holmes," Holyfield said, turning serious, ''because a lot of the kids fighting today haven't proved themselves. He's the guy with the most credibility now."

Holmes gained his title shot with an upset victory over Ray Mercer, the gold medalist in the 1988 Olympics, on Feb. 7 in Atlantic City.

"It's not a fight where Holmes barely got by," Holyfield said. "He really performed well."

Holyfield, who was criticized for fighting Foreman, is likely to face the same response for fighting Holmes.

"I think no matter what you do, someone's going to criticize you," said Kathy Duva, a publicist for Holyfield. "So that's not a problem. The question is whether the criticism is valid, and I don't think it is. Of all the fighters who were considered as opponents for Evander, Holmes was the only who's beaten a top-10 contender (Mercer)."

Duva also pointed out that Foreman fared much better against the champion than his detractors had predicted.

"I think George kind of put the whole age thing to rest," she said.

Holmes, who had come out of retirement for his disastrous fight against then-heavyweight champion Mike Tyson in 1988, began his latest comeback against Tim "Doc" Anderson on April 7, 1991.

"People say I'm following in George Foreman's footsteps," Holmes said. ''Hey, I love George Foreman. If he did the right thing, fine. I want to do it, too."

Holmes, who often seemed bitter and defensive during his reign as champion, was relaxed and charming yesterday.

"I'm old, 40-plus," he said. "The older you get, the more wisdom you get. When I was a kid, I took everything for granted. I look back, and some of the things I did then, I would never do now."

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