ATLANTA — There are nine bouts tonight in the Georgia Golden Gloves Championships at the Omni, but the main attraction is Evander Holyfield.
Holyfield, the 27-year-old Atlantan who got his start in the Gloves ranks 19 years ago, is the No. 1 heavyweight contender. He expects to fight heavyweight champion Buster Douglas for the title in September and will meet Seamus McDonagh June 1 in Atlantic City, N.J.
Holyfield vows to "go all out" tonight in the two three-round sparring matches that will climax the evening.
"I'm not going to be holding back," he said. "When you go out half-speed and hold back, that's when you get hurt."
Holyfield said he decided to get involved in tonight's Gloves activity because he wants to help the program responsible for his growth and development.
"I don't want a dime from this," he said. "I want everything to go to the (Amateur Boxing) Federation. I'm just hoping that some people who have never seen the Golden Gloves will come out and say, 'Hey, this is pretty good boxing' and come back."
Holyfield conceived the idea of two three-round sparring matches.
"If it's only three rounds, the guys I'm fighting will go all out and not try to pace themselves like they would if they were going six," he said. "This way, nobody should get bored because there'll be a lot of action."
Some of the action tonight will involve two longtime friends.
Mark Beasley of the Atlanta Police Athletic League will try to defend his title in the 147-pound weight class against Homer Gibbons of the Carter Morgan Club. Gibbons, who won the 139-pound class title last year, has since put on weight and must face a boxer who has been a close friend for nearly a decade.
"Everyone who knows those two fellows will be watching that bout real close," said Buddy Davis, president of the Georgia Amateur Boxing Assn. "Both of those guys are real good fighters, but (because of the weight factor) it's come to this."