Evander Holyfield shared the ring with some all-time greats in a career that ended in 2011 – but he has to look back much further to remember the bout that he holds as his favourite.
‘The Real Deal’ is the only man in history to be undisputed at cruiser and heavyweight in the three-belt era, with wins over Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Larry Holmes and Hasim Rahman being some of the crowning moments in a stellar campaign.
Known as a man well-capable of going the distance, Holyfield thrilled boxing fans worldwide with his determination to have the final say in exchanges against opponents many of whom out-weighed him.
Speaking to the Spill Over Network, Holyfield looked back to the fight that kicked off all those world title wins.
“I’d say Dwight Muhammad Qawi, my first championship fight, 15 rounds. We went the distance, 15 rounds.”
Dwight Muhammad Qawi is perhaps a lesser known Hall of Famer when considering the likes of Holyfield and Tyson.
The two-weight world champion from Baltimore fought to title success at both 175 and 200lbs, defending his WBA World Title in the latter against Holyfield back in 1986.
Qawi was one of the earliest cruiserweight champions with the division only properly recognised half a decade prior. It was a close fight between the two Americans, neither man touching the canvas in what would be considered one of the last great 15-rounders.
Holyfield took it on two scorecards to one to win his first world title. He would go onto unify the division in four more fights before moving up to heavyweight and emulating his success.
Qawi, now 70, hung up the gloves in 1998 with a record of 41 wins, 11 losses and one draw.