Evander Holyfield had already made history by his 28th fight as the first fighter to become undisputed at both cruiserweight and heavyweight.
With an undefeated record and a style that mixed aggression with skill, Holyfield entered his world title defence against Riddick Bowe the favourite.
Despite that, ‘The Real Deal’ told VLAD TV that he made one big mistake – he made friends with his opponent.
“The big thing with Bowe – he’s the first person I realised that I didn’t do what my momma told me to do. My momma told me don’t become friends with nobody you’re gonna have to compete against … You tell them things that you shouldn’t tell them.”
“Bowe used to be my sparring partner when he was an amateur. I helped him out with little things cause I had money and stuff. Me and Bowe were just real good friends, we talked about everything, then all of a sudden I gotta fight him.”
“We were joking with each other [but] he comes up to me when the fight was about to start and said ‘let me tell you something, if you don’t run I’ll knock you out.'”
It would go down in history as one of the greatest heavyweight contests in the sport – particularly the thrilling back-and-forth action of round ten.
Ultimately Bowe won on all three scorecards, the final two rounds being more about making it the distance for Holyfield after a knockdown in the eleventh.
He praised Bowe for surprising him with an impressive gas tank on the night.
“Bowe is a good fighter. He can fight inside and outside. But he used to run out of gas. I was able to make him run out of gas [but not this fight.] We just battled, but he got the best. When the fight was over, I know that he won.”
The pair would fight twice more, Holyfield taking a majority decision in 1993 but losing via stoppage in 95 and putting an end to the greatest heavyweight trilogy in history.