Four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield has high hopes for his son Evan Holyfield, the 22-year-old prospect who made his pro debut in November.
The super welterweight Holyfield has gotten out of the gates with a fast start with four wins and scored three knockouts, and his Hall of Fame father believes his son has the makings to be a special fighter.
“Evan does not have to live up to my legacy, he has to live up to his. That’s what I tell him. He can be better than me, but is he willing to pay the price?” Evander told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “Evan is a very knowledgeable kid. He had choices to do a lot of things. I told him, ‘boxing is not for everybody.’ He told me, ‘dad, I love it.’ Boxing is a tough thing to love, and you have to put the time into it. You need a lot of confidence to step into the ring.”
Evander has encouraged Evan to use the downtime due to Covid 19 to stay in top shape and sharpen his skills, especially since his manager and trainer Maurice “Termite” Watkins was recently hospitalized for a month due to coronavirus.
“I told him, ‘this is the time you have to work when nothing is happening.’ When the curtain comes back up, it will be your time to make a leap. Another fighter’s mentality could be that, ‘this is a time to rest.’ As long as you’re in shape, you can take what they do, but you can give it too?”
Evander said the relationship he has with Evan is more of the role of a father and advisor rather than a manager or trainer.
“I know the game of boxing,” said Evander. “A trainer is like almost being a father. You owe it to them with time. I can walk in there and say, you need to do this, this and this, because I’ve done it my whole life. I didn’t have anything else growing up. I didn’t have a dad who was the heavyweight champion of the world. I did not have a mom with a lot of money. I had to really focus. I gave my all to boxing, because that was the only thing I could do without any help.”
Evan, who is promoted by Main Events just as his father was years ago, said he prefers Evander to be a dad first.
“He’s always there for me through advice,” Evan told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “We talk a lot, and bounce ideas off each other, all the way down to the business of boxing. If he sees something that I need to improve on, he’ll let me know. He tells me that each generation gets better. He wants me to be better than him. I’ve been wanting to chase this myself. It wasn’t a decision I made on a whim. Respect is earned, not given. I have to make a name for myself as my career moves along. I’m really cut for this, and actions speak louder than words. I’ve paid my dues. I’m not riding on my father’s name. I’m actually working for my own legacy. I want to be the first father and son tandem in the Hall of Fame. I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
Evander, who is training at the age of 57 with intentions to face Mike Tyson in a charity exhibition match, said work ethic and strong skills will one day separate his son from the pack.
“I worked hard. No one told me, ‘I have to train.’ I didn’t want to embarrass myself by not being out of shape and looking bad,” said Evander. “Fatigue makes cowards out of everybody. People who are in shape gut it out. The best part of boxing is being in great condition. Fans want to see something they couldn’t do well. They put all of their trust and money in you.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.