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Pushing 50 years old, Evander Holyfield is making yet another comeback.  A legacy that includes being a 5-time heavyweight boxing champion can’t be left to rest in peace.  This sometimes happens when you can’t pay your bills, your palatial estate gets foreclosed on, and you’re getting sued for debts you couldn’t afford.  Since someone is going to pay a healthy purse of millions to a name, even if they are beyond beyond their prime, it’s not unreasonable that Evander Holyfield would step back into the ring.  Holyfield said:

“My goal has always been to retire as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.  I’ve taken care of myself and I don’t feel it’s a problem if you’ve taken care of yourself.”

Having watched the video and realizing that he is one old boxer that can still form a coherent sentence and doesn’t shake uncontrollably from the brutality suffered over a long career, it’s hard to disagree with him.  Evander Holyfield is slated to fight Sherman “Tank” Williams on January 22nd, 2011.

Long gone are the days when I thought heavyweight boxing was even remotely interesting. You know you’re becoming an old curmudgeon when your memories, thoughts, and language harken back to when times were far better, everything you enjoyed was far better, everything cost a nickel, you walked uphill in feet of snow in both directions to school… etc. You’ve heard all the cliches. A quick word to today’s youngsters – you can bet your ass you’ll be bellyaching about the same things using the same language when you’re on the downside of life as you know it.

Still, of all the major sports I’ve ever watched, for me the one that has fallen the farthest and the hardest has to be boxing. Let’s not debate the brutality or two men entering the ring and pummeling the snot out of each other. With little doubt, the physical fitness, training, stamina, power and strength of these fighters is unquestionable. With exception of a short spike in popularity when the raging lunatic that was a young Mike Tyson came onto the scene and obliterated much of his competition in swift and severe fashion, nothing that professional boxing has offered since the 1970s has been even remotely interesting.

Is it because I just stopped following boxing after the glory days that faded through the 1970s? Is it the fact that there are no real personalities or rivalries that generate excitement in fans of the sport? Will there ever be a group of fighters like those we watched on public television: Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Jimmy Young, Earnie Shavers, Leon Spinks, Larry Holmes…?

Seriously, take a look at this: The list of Top 50 Heavyweight Boxers.  Sure, there are a few names that look familiar, but does anyone really care anymore?  Does anyone except the owner of your local bar and those who enjoy a disgraceful amount of sports betting pony-up the dough to watch these messes on Pay-Per-View?

I recognize that my thoughts on this are influenced by my particular age and the era in which I grew up. I also remember reading a ton about boxing as a youngster and I have no doubt that there are those still walking the earth who would emphatically tell me that I am out of my mind and that even greater boxing took place prior to the 1970s. I can accept that. I can accept that across most weight divisions, too.

What I won’t accept is that boxing, as a sport, hasn’t been as good as it was prior to 1980, with possible exception of the circus atmosphere that was the Mike Tyson era. Even that was an aberration. I also am not one to blame it on the whirlwind popularity of MMA. It may simply be that there is just far too many options, too many sports stations, too much coverage of every sport that has pushed boxing aside.

After all, when we did have a half-dozen channels to watch (if our rabbit-ears antenna was working properly), you watched baseball, basketball, football, hockey – and primarily in your home town. Every once in a great while, you’d get a special treat – and that very often was boxing. And it was free. And it was good.

Today – not so much. Sad, pathetic situations like multiple comebacks that see faded stars nearing retirement age, steered towards the ring in their wheelchair, risking a broken hip when they step between the ropes aren’t helping.