Evander Holyfield “appreciated” Mike Tyson blazing a trail that he could follow towards the world heavyweight championship – and suggested a charity fight with his old rival.
Tyson, 53, caused a storm with footage of himself training and insisted “I’m going to box some exhibitions and get in shape” and now Holyfield, 57, has exclusively told Sky Sports News that he wants a third meeting with ‘Iron Mike’.
Asked if a charity match could be arranged, Holyfield said: “I don’t know, you would have to ask him! I wouldn’t ask nobody to do anything they don’t want to do. But it’s for charity. If we can work something out that works for everybody then it’s a win-win-win.”
Tyson previously said: “I want to go to the gym and get in shape to be able to box three or four-round exhibitions for some charities and stuff.”
Holyfield won both of his professional world heavyweight title fights against Tyson. In 1996 he caused a major upset by stopping his rival in the 11th round. A year later, in one of boxing’s most controversial moments ever, Tyson was disqualified for biting off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear.
“When people look at me, I know they are looking at my ear,” Holyfield said 23 years later. “People think I got the whole ear bit off!
“People don’t understand the relationship I have with Tyson.
“Tyson and I were both on the losing squad trying to make the Olympic team in 1984, that tells you how tough amateur boxing was in my day.
“When Tyson became heavyweight champion of the world, it made me realise that I could do it.
“Tyson and I had sparred and he was a tough guy even back then, when he was 17 and I was 21.”
Tyson, standing at just 5’10”, became the youngest-ever heavyweight champion aged 20 in 1986. Holyfield would later become the first cruiserweight champion to move up a division and win heavyweight gold too.
“I appreciate that somebody went before me,” Holyfield said. “Mike beat up the big guys. If he could do it, I could do it.
“I’m the youngest of nine in my family but anything I see my brothers do, I’m supposed to do it. It may take me more time but eventually I’ll learn to do it.
“Mike was like a cobra. His arms were short so you think he can’t hit you if you pull your head back. But he hits you! That’s what happened to a lot of fighters – people pulled their head back but got hit by his left hook.
“That’s what Mike did. Me? I made adjustments – I could fight inside, outside, long style, short style, if I needed to bang then I could bang, and I took a good shot.”