Being branded a quitter in boxing is perhaps the most harsh label one can receive, worse than being known for a weak chin, a poor gas tank or even for ducking opponents – especially in a bout as significant as Evander Holyfield vs Lennox Lewis.
There are host of fighters who have heard that accusation from certain quarters in recent years; Daniel Dubois when he took a knee in his bout against Oleksandr Usyk back in August, or Billy Joe Saunders when he failed to emerge from his stool halfway through his clash with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez back in 2021.
One fighter who has never been associated with the word “quit” is two weight undisputed champion Holyfield, who has a reputation as one of the toughest fighters in the history of the sport.
However, ‘The Real Deal’ revealed he was very close to downing tools when he faced off against Lennox Lewis for all the marbles at heavyweight back in 1999.
“I said I’d knock him [Lewis] out in the third round, so I tried to knock him out in the third round! So then when I didn’t knock him out in the third round, it was like all the air just went out of me.”
“I was actually getting ready to quit. And the only reason why I didn’t quit was because my son was out there and he just had his head down.”
“I didn’t want nobody to tell my son, Evander Junior, that, “You’re going to be just like your dad, when pressure hit – he quit.” I’m so happy that I didn’t quit.”
“And that I can stand here today and say you know what, I’m not a quitter.”
Lewis vs Holyfield was the last time the heavyweight division has had an undisputed bout, however that looks set to change after the news that contracts have been signed for a blockbuster between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.