Former undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield has admitted that he still holds a grudge because of one fight, despite him retiring over ten years ago.
Holyfield defeated Carlos De León in 1988 to add the WBC belt to his WBA and IBF crowns and claim the undisputed cruiserweight throne.
Just two years later, ‘The Real Deal’ would knock out James ‘Buster’ Douglas, putting an end to the champion’s eight month stint as undisputed champion after his fabled upset win over Mike Tyson.
After defending the title against George Foreman, Bert Cooper and Larry Holmes, Holyfield lost his undisputed status to Riddick Bowe, but had the chance to regain it against Lennox Lewis in 1999, drawing the first bout and losing the rematch – a night which still haunts the now 61-year-old, he told DJ Vlad.
“I know I beat him the second [time], it was worse than [a robbery] because the fact of the matter is that he [Lewis] knows he didn’t beat me in that fight.
“He says ‘well, you did not win the first one’ and I said ‘yeah, they called it a draw’. I didn’t win and you didn’t win either, so they are just going to give it [the rematch] to you because you should have won the first time?”
Holyfield went on to discuss further some more of the feelings he had with Lewis regarding the fight.
It’s a whole other fight and it was sad because he thinks that it’s alright because he thinks ‘well you did not win the first one’. Now you are going to say that it’s alright, [even though] you know you didn’t win, if they would have called it a draw then it would have been alright, then we would be even.
“They felt that you didn’t beat me enough to get a decision because I was the [two-belt] champion.”
Lewis was stripped of his WBA title shortly after, and no undisputed champion has reigned since, with February 17th set to end that run and crown a first four-belt king of the division.