Holyfield starts comeback on right foot

DALLAS (Ticker) - If Jeremy Bates is wise, he sold himself some insurance prior to stepping into the ring with Evander Holyfield.

Beginning a comeback that has been titled “Holyfield V, The Final Chapter,” the four-time heavyweight champion made quick work of Bates on Friday with a technical knockout at 2:56 of the second round at American Airlines Center.

Absent from the ring since a loss to Larry Donald in November 2004 that led to his license being revoked by the State of New York, Holyfield (39-8-2, 26 KOs) hand-picked Bates for his return bout, which was scheduled for 10 rounds. The 43-year-old made the right choice, pummeling the insurance salesman late in each round before referee Rafael Ramos stopped the fight with four seconds to go in the second.

“I’m so glad to get the opportunity to get back in the ring and show the people that I wasn’t not a boxing man because I’m old,” Holyfield said. “I was able to do the things that I haven’t been able to do in five years. I was able to slip punches, I was able to use my foot speed, I was able to go in and out.”

Less than a minute into the bout, chants of “Holy-field, Holy-field” rang throughout the arena. But the 1984 Olympic bronze medalist in the light heavyweight division did not need any extra motivation against Bates (21-12-1), who had retired after suffering a second-round knockout to Ray Austin on April 1 before being recruited by Holyfield.

With time winding down in the first round, Holyfield landed a good right hand, sending Bates against the ropes. However, the 32-year-old was saved by the bell as Holyfield connected with a surplus of unanswered punches while Ramos appeared ready to jump in.

Holding a two-inch height advantage, Holyfield stunned Bates with a pair of lefts midway through the second round but was caught with a good right shortly thereafter.

“I caught Evander on the chin,” Bates said. “Make-believe guys would have gone down. I thought, ‘Oh my God, I just caught Evander Holyfield.’ I may have struck out, but I struck out swinging.”

“I didn’t get hurt,” Holyfield said. “I saw the shot. It got in. I was glad I was able to recover.”

Quickly regrouping, Holyfield came back with another late barrage, and Ramos mercifully saved Bates from further punishment.

“I realized if I don’t stay on him, he was going to recover and it was going to make it more hard,” Holyfield said.

Holyfield, who won for just the second time in his last seven fights, has his sights set on another championship and even believes he can once again unify the heavyweight titles. However, he will have to go through an army of former Soviet Union fighters to do it.

With Kazakhstan native Oleg Maskaev’s victory over Hasim Rahman for the WBC heavyweight title last Saturday, former USSR fighters Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine (IBF), Russian Nikolay Valuev (WBA) and Sergei Liakhovich of Belarus (WBO) rule as heavyweight titleholders.

“If the heavyweight champion of the world wants to make some money, then they have to fight a credible opponent, and I’m just one of them,” Holyfield said.

In October 1990, Holyfield became the undisputed heavyweight champ when he scored a third-round knockout of Buster Douglas to capture the WBA, WBC and IBF belts.

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Updated Saturday, Aug 19, 2006