Someone should ask, Evander Holyfield has some advice for Georgia as he prepares for a fight that the world believes has little hope of winning.
Who better than Elia Holyfield’s father is able to talk about secrets to challenge the odds, defeat the worst guy on the block and turn expectations upside down?
“My favorite quote was what my mom said to me,” begins the former heavyweight champion. He often mentions the late Annie Holyfield. The older it gets, the smarter it becomes.
“My mother didn’t fight, didn’t do anything (athletically). She said,” Son, don’t get beat by a reputation. They beat someone else, they didn’t beat you. Until they beat you, don’t give up.
“Please don’t be beaten by a reputation. Many people lose because of what someone told them.” “
In this corner for Saturday’s SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (16:00, CBS; News 95.5 and AM-750 WSB), world-destroying Alabama Crimson Tide. Twenty-two years ago, there was a personification of such a frightening domain. His name was Mike Tyson.
And in the other corner, the Georgia Bulldogs, a big underdog with a big heart. It would be Evander Holyfield on a certain night two decades ago.
The two teams meet on Saturday for the SEC championship. The Bulldogs, whose second leader is the son of Holyfield, are almost an underdog of two touchdowns for the unbeaten Crimson Tide in the cold eyes of the betting public.
The two men met in late 1996, almost two years before Elia Holyfield was born. When the bet lines opened, Evander Holyfield was a huge 25 to 1 loser for Tyson (who was betting up to 5 to 1 at the time the clash started).
Holyfield won on an 11th round TKO, with Tyson defenseless against the ropes, completing one of boxing’s most memorable upheavals. SEC championship results are pending.
The example of that night long ago in Las Vegas could be useful for the next generation Holyfield and its Bulldogs.
Although, in terms of pure trust, the child needs little support. Strong and self-possessed are adjectives that attach themselves to both father and son. Have you seen the boy run? He is the hammer and the defender is the nail. And that’s how dad fought.
Asked if his father tried to apply the lessons from the Tyson fight to the next game with Alabama, Elijah said, “My father doesn’t really look at me as a loser, so he doesn’t think we’re underdog. So he didn’t say anything. to about. ”
“It didn’t matter if I should win or lose, I thought I could beat everyone anyway,” said Evander. “My mom told me that if you’re looking at how big the person and everything else is, you shouldn’t even go out there. You have to have the right attitude to go out there to go out and compete.”
Yes, attitude. This shocking world all starts with attitude. Evander felt a quiet and special pleasure in making the unbelievers doubt.
“My advice is always the same: if you don’t believe it, you won’t. You can’t put yourself in a position to believe what someone else is saying,” said Evander.
Intertwined during the two events there are all kinds of useful parallels between Tyson’s defeat and an upcoming championship game that combines another Holyfield against long odds.
Do you think Georgia is being neglected? There were so many questions about Evander’s fitness in 1996 – he had “retired” once with an alleged heart problem and had appeared slow and old in a previous fight against the forgettable Bobby Czyz – that the Las Vegas boxing commission ordered him to undergo another, special series of medical tests at the Mayo Clinic.
Tyson, meanwhile, on his return from a prison sentence and a previous loss to Buster Douglas, had gone through four cans of tomato, sending them in less than eight shots, put together.
At the time, former fighter / trainer Mickey Duff told Boxing News: “It’s an easy fight for Tyson and will last a maximum of four rounds, probably less. There is no contest. It is a complete and total discrepancy. “Venerable coach Eddie Futch feared for Holyfield’s safety.
But Holyfield brought with him a valuable first-hand experience in the ring with him on the night of the fighting, an experience dating back to when both fighters were increasing amateurs in the ranks of US boxing.
“I knew something nobody knew – I had shot him before,” Holyfield said. “(Tyson) was 17, I was 21. When people challenge each other they don’t forget. I realized I was even stronger than him. I realized that when we saved we felt like I had the best of He was knocking everyone out and I wasn’t afraid of being knocked out. People who are afraid of losing, many of them don’t have a chance to win. “
And yes, there is also a useful familiarity for Bulldogs. You will remember how Alabama and Georgia met only about 11 months ago, with the Bulldogs leading by 13 points before losing the national championship in overtime. The memory of standing with Bama is still fresh.
Georgia will take care of a lot of game movies that will lead to Saturday. It wouldn’t be bad if the Bulldogs took some time to watch a replay of Holyfield-Tyson I. “I’ve seen it before,” said Elijah, laughing. “It was a good fight.”
It was before that fight that Tyson uttered one of his most famous quotes, one that actually formed the core of Holyfield’s fighting strategy: “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the mouth.”
The bully does not know what to do when he is bullied, when he is punched in the mouth. This was certainly the case for revenge, when a frustrated Tyson was disqualified for biting a piece of Holyfield’s ear. In the original, Holyfield simply took every physical advantage – he was the strongest man, a fact overlooked by his opponent – as he shrugged off Tyson’s fearsome reputation.
It was far from a good fight. There was a reversal, a twist in the arm and a blow to the head. A bloody Tyson was dropped by a left hook in the sixth round. By 11, he was done, absorbing one punch without response after another until the referee came in to save him.
The lesson, Bulldogs: “If a person is too afraid of making a mistake, he won’t win the bigger ones,” said Evander.
And: “My mom used to tell me, son, 99 percent of the time you struggle to work with someone, you’ll be the best. You can’t let the person offer you work.
And one more: “Come out, do something wrong, help the other team. The person who minimizes mistakes, the person who works hard, the one who is thinking about what he has to do and not so much about what someone else is doing: these are the things that have allowed me to be four times heavyweight world champion “.
So, ask Evander Holyfield if this seemingly unbeatable Alabama Crimson Tide can be beaten, what do you think he’ll say?
“Of course they can.”
“They are not the only ones (on earth) who make no mistakes,” he said. “The mistakes they made have not yet cost.”
– Staff writer Tim Tucker contributed to this article.
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