Promoter Eddie Bazira and Baltic Pro Box Promotions, in association with Real Deal Events LLC, SES Boxing, Fight Production and Risum Boxing, are proud to announce that contracts has been signed for legendary former four-time heavyweight champion of the world Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield to challenge Francois Botha for the South Africans World Boxing Federation World title on January 16 at Nelson Mandela Memorial Stadium in Kampala, Uganda.
A sell-out crowd of 80.000 spectators is expected, and details are being finalized for world-wide Pay-Per-View distribution. Sweden-based Baltic Pro Box Promotions will host several press conferences in the coming days in Kampala to kick off the promotion of what will be the biggest fight ever in Uganda.
Holyfield (47-10-2, 27 KOs) hasn’t boxed since his controversial majority decision loss to giant Nikolay Valuev for the WBA world title last December, and he is hoping that a victory over the man known as “The White Buffalo” (47-4-3, 28 KOs) will put him in line for a shot at WBC champion Vitali Klitschko later in 2010.
“I am very much looking forward to going to Uganda, and I expect a tough fight against Francois Botha. I am going to win, and I will cherish the WBF world title”, said the former undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight king.
Botha is himself coming off a close battle against a huge opponent, and barely defended the WBF title in October with a draw against 202 cm tall Cuban Pedro Carion, when a hand injury made things extra difficult for him in that fight. He has been cleared by doctors to fight again in January, and wows to do better in what will be his most significant fight since a TKO loss to Wladimir Klitschko in 2002:
“I have always been my own harshest critic. My performance against Carion, without making any excuses, was arguably the worst of my career. Expect the fittest, toughest and best ever, and extremely serious Francois Botha in Uganda in January. I owe my fans and members of Team Botha the performance of my life - I intend to make good on that”.
Promoter Bazira, who is planning to have no less than six title fights on the card, has worked 24/7 for the last month negotiating the terms and conditions to make the fight a reality, and is thrilled that the final details have been ironed out:
“We are proud to be able to present this big fight to not only the people of Uganda but to the people of all of Africa and the rest of the world. Holyfield, the legend that he is, is obviously the bigger name of the two, but Botha, being African, is also very famous in Uganda, and since both of them are real warriors I am sure we will get a fantastic fight and a fantastic event on January 16”.
Q & A: Francois Botha: Evander better bring his best game!
Francois you put up a wonderful performance against Timo Hoffman and then a very indifferent one against Pedro Carion. Even World Boxing Federation President, Howard Goldberg - a good friend of yours said Botha was extremely fortunate to draw. Which Botha can be expect to see against Holyfield?
Botha: I have always been my own harshest critic. My performance against Carion, without making any excuses, was arguably the worst of my career. Expect the fittest, toughest and best ever, and extremely serious Francois Botha in Uganda in January. I owe my fans and members of Team Botha the performance of my life - I intend to make good on that.
Although Holyfield is a few years older than you, he looked very impressive in his last fight. What tactics will you be employing?
Botha: Holyfield is an outstanding warrior and a several times world champion. He can box and fight. I need to bring my best game in order to win, and win is exactly what I intend to do. I am extremely serious, have started training, and will be going to Europe to spar before going early to Uganda to acclimatise. You have two top world champs in action. We're both a bit older and a bit wiser. Expect a great fight.
Many people who know you know that you are your own man, and don't really listen to advice from others? Will it be the same on this occasion?
Botha: I'm a bit older and wiser, and certainly more mature than in the old days in the USA. I speak often to some wise people, including my trainer, WBF President Howard Goldberg and people I trust. They always give me good advice even if it is sometimes harsh. But I have certainly learnt to listen to them and the good advice they give.
Why is a win so important to you in Uganda?
Botha: The good thing I suppose is that people who saw me turn in that lousy performance against Carion think that I'm done and should quit. I know my abilities if I take this seriously. A win against a warrior like Holyfield will open the doors to an eventual match with either one or both of the Klitchkos. When that happens, lets see those people who think I should quit.
A defence of the World Boxing Federation title means exactly what to Francois Botha?
Botha: I believe that a message was sent to me from higher powers telling me that I can still make it and inspire young people never to forego their dreams. It was Howard Goldberg who believed in me when I wasn't serious and wasn't interested and told me grasp the opportunity with both hands or to stop wasting everyone's time. That World Boxing Federation title means as much to me as does this individual fight with Holyfield and I intend doing justice to both.
Francois - a final comment from the White Buffalo?
Botha: The buffalo, after a little hiccup, is back on the prairie as mean and hungry as every before. Tell my friend Evander, for whom I have the highest respect and admiration, that he is coming to the buffalo's turf and he had better bring his best game. Whatever the result (and after a Botha victory) I look forward to having Evander as my guest in South Africa after the fight to show him one of the greatest countries in the world.
Francois - thank you very much and best of luck!
Botha: My pleasure as always.