By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Just like his own long-awaited fight against Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield believes Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao eventually will fight each other.
Holyfield figures Mayweather is similar to Tyson in that the reason he has yet to agree to oppose Pacquiao is because he isn’t completely confident in his ability to beat the defensively flawed, hard-hitting Pacquiao.
“Everbody is saying, ‘Why doesn’t he fight Pacquiao? He’ll kill Pacquiao,’ ” Holyfield said Thursday during a news luncheon at a Manhattan restaurant to announce the pro debut of Chinese heavyweight Zhang Zhilei. “He doesn’t believe it himself. Until he believes it, the fight won’t happen.”
Holyfield had a similar experience for more than half of the 1990s, when Tyson’s prison stint and other obstacles kept him from fighting Holyfield in the heavyweight fight boxing fans most wanted to see. Holyfield stopped Tyson of the 11th round of their first fight in November 1996. Tyson infamously bit Holyfield’s ears during their immediate rematch and was disqualified during their third round of that unforgettable June 1997 fight in Las Vegas.
The retired Holyfield, 51, has joined Dynasty Boxing, which promotes Zhilei, as an adviser and goodwill ambassador. He’ll help mentor the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Zhilei, who won a silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Zhilei will fight for the first time as a pro Aug. 8 in Fallon, Nev. The athletic southpaw’s opponent for a four-round fight that’ll be televised by ESPN2 hasn’t been chosen.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.