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BOXING / STEVE SPRINGER

It's Time for Holyfield to Hang Up His Gloves

September 27, 2003|STEVE SPRINGER

I am hoping James Toney beats Evander Holyfield next Saturday night in their heavyweight non-title bout at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

I know that's not proper for an impartial observer. And I'm not expressing this view because I'm a Toney fan or a Holyfield detractor.

I'm doing so because I'm hoping a loss will force Holyfield to do what he should have done long ago: Retire.

He has won the heavyweight crown a record four times, he has made all the money he will ever need, he will be 41 next month and he sometimes shows an alarming tendency to slur his words.

I know, I know, George Foreman won the heavyweight championship at 45. But Foreman took a 10-year break from the sport, which rejuvenated his body. And Foreman kept winning into his 40s.

Look at Holyfield's recent record:

In 1999, he fought Lennox Lewis to a draw, in a match most ringside observers thought Lewis won. And then Holyfield lost the rematch.

He went on to fight journeyman John Ruiz three times, winning one, losing one and fighting to a draw the third time.

Last year, Holyfield beat Hasim Rahman on an eighth-round TKO because Rahman had a huge lump on his forehead. Later in the year, Holyfield lost to Chris Byrd.

Since beating renowned tomato can Vaughn Bean in 1998, Holyfield's record is 2-3-2.

What's the point?

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Marked Man

From the moment the Oscar De La Hoya-Shane Mosley rematch ended two weeks ago at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, was under fire from De La Hoya and his promoter, Bob Arum.

They not only charged that the unanimous decision for Mosley was wrong but hinted that some sort of chicanery was involved. By midweek, the De La Hoya camp had backtracked and Ratner hoped the issue was dead.

Not quite. Last Saturday, Ratner, who moonlights as a football official, was in Provo, Utah, for a Brigham Young-Stanford game.

Spotting Ratner, a fan yelled, "I don't know if you can referee, but Oscar won the fight."

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Learning His ABCs

At the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood this week, Toney, preparing for Saturday's match, taunted his sparring partner to the delight of onlookers.

But one figure, wearing a faded red ski cap and looking vaguely familiar, looked on silently with the air of someone who has seen it all.

He has.

Fifty-one-year-old Billy Moore strongly resembles his father, Archie, and heightens the effect by wearing the cap that sat for so long on the head of the Old Mongoose, who died in 1998.

Archie, who started at middleweight and ended at heavyweight, fought an incredible 231 times and had a record 143 knockouts. In his next-to-last fight, at the Sports Arena in 1962, Archie, then 48, was knocked out by a young heavyweight named Cassius Clay.

But just as important to Archie as his boxing, perhaps more, was his ABC -- Anybody Can -- youth foundation.

While Billy never followed his father in the ring, he has revived ABC in his hometown of San Diego.

"I remember in 1964," said Billy, speaking softly while Toney carried on a constant stream of loud trash talk on the other side of the gym, "my dad said this country was facing a gang and drug epidemic. I didn't know what he was talking about at the time, but when Dad got an idea, he stuck with it every day. Finally, he formed ABC."

The revived nonprofit ABC is working with 25 to 30 San Diego area kids, offering them a mix of academics and boxing in an after-school program. Moore envisions expanding ABC nationally or even internationally.

"We hope," he said, "we can save some souls."

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More Moore

Author George Plimpton, who died Thursday, once sparred three rounds with Moore for a book he was writing.

"He was looking for some publicity," Moore said. "I gave him a stiff jab to the nose to make him earn it."

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Quick Jabs

Super-featherweight Erik Morales, International Boxing Federation lightweight champion Carlos Hernandez and IBF light-flyweight titleholder Edgar Cardenas will take part in a public workout at 2 p.m. today at Staples Center in preparation for their Oct. 4 bouts there. Morales faces Guty Espadas in the main event. Hernandez will defend his title against Steve Forbes, Cardenas against Daniel Reyes.... In the search for new blood in the moribund heavyweight division, DaVarryl Williamson and Joe Mesi, with one loss between them in 45 fights, will meet in the main event tonight at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y. The fight will be on HBO. Mesi is 26-0; Williamson is 18-1.

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