The Real Deal Part Five: Equalling Ali

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Evander Holyfield

After his first stoppage defeat at the hands of Riddick Bowe in November 1995, Holyfield returned to the ring on the same bill as the Lennox Lewis Vs Ray Mercer bout on 10th May 1996. Bobby Czyz, born in Orange New York in 1962, was Holyfield's opponent. He turned professional as a middleweight, beating Hank Whitmore in the first round on 24th April 1980.

Czyz lost his unbeaten record via a ten round unanimous decision to Mustafa Hamsho. After his next contest he campaigned as a super-middleweight in 1983, then in 1984 moved up again to light-heavyweight. In 1986 he challenged the undefeated IBF light-heavyweight champion Slobodan Kacar, knocking him out in the fifth round to take the belt. He made three successful defences, before retiring in nine rounds to 'Prince' Charles Williams in October 1987.

He dropped to 32-3 when he lost his next bout to Dennis Andries. Two wins later he lost to WBA light-heavyweight champion Vigil Hill by an unanimous decision. In his next contest he lost a rematch to Williams with a tenth round retirement.

In 1990 he moved up to cruiserweight, winning three on the bounce, before taking Robert Daniels' WBA cruiserweight title on 08th March 1991. He made two defences before vacating the belt in May 1992. Czyz didn't box at all through 1993, but returned to the ring in '94, beating George O'Mara, then losing to David Izegwire by a fourth round retirement.

Bobby Czyz then debuted as a heavyweight, beating Tim Tomashek, Jeff Williams and Richard Jackson before taking on former two-time heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield. Czyz weighed 210 pounds (95.25KG) with Holyfield coming in at 211 pounds (95.71 KG).

Holyfield looked much bigger than Bobby Czyz

Even though there was just a pound between them, the size difference was immense. Holyfield was able to back up Czyz at will, but the smaller man was landing with some good left hooks. Holyfield landed a series of power shots to end the first round. Holyfield picked up from where he left off in the second round as he came out bombing, trying to take Czyz out of there, but the smaller man weathered the storm and survived the round, landing some meaty body shots in the process.

Again Holyfield came out for the third meaning business and forced Czyz to the ropes where he had no choice but to trade. He was taking some heavy punches and referee Ron Lipton administrated a standing eight count. The round continued with Czyz taking some more punishment, but he bravely fought with Holyfield to hear the bell.

Czyz went back to his corner complaining that something from Holyfield's gloves was burning his eyes and his corner told the referee to check the gloves. Holyfield's pace dropped significantly in the fourth and if Czyz had the power of a true heavyweight then he would've been able to capitalise on the situation in front of him.

Holyfield, who refused to sit down between rounds was told by his corner to up the pace and get him out of there. The former heavyweight champion obliged and caught his opponent with some good hard punches, but he couldn't take out the game and brave fighter in front of him.

An outgunned Czyz mixed it up with Holyfield

Again Czyz went back to the corner complaining that his eyes were burning and he couldn't see. The ringside doctor confirmed vision problems and advised the referee stop the bout. Ron Lipton declared Holyfield the winner by technical knockout, then rubbed his face with Holyfield's gloves and verified to Czyz that nothing came off the gloves.

The thirty-four year old Holyfield marched on to 32-3 (23 KO's) and faced Mike Tyson for the WBA heavyweight title. Bobby Czyz, who was adamant that something was on his opponents gloves and that the third round eight count shouldn't have occurred, fought one final time. Two years later he lost by a second round TKO to Corrie Sanders on 12th June 1998 and retired from boxing with a 44-8 (28 KO's) resume.

With Holyfield fading badly in his third contest with Riddick Bowe and seemingly struggling to put away the smaller Czyz, many believed that 'The Real Deal' was way past his sell-by date. Mike Tyson, on the other hand, had made light work of his opponents since returning from a prison spell, only going eight rounds since his return.

An impressive 109 second demolition of WBA heavyweight champion Bruce Seldon, to add to his WBC strap; and reports that Holyfield was getting beaten up by his Tyson-esque sparring partner David Tua; Holyfield was deemed as a dead man walking getting into the ring with Tyson.

The bout took place at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on 09th November 1996, for the WBA title as Tyson relinquished the WBC crown to take on Holyfield, instead of defending it against mandatory challenger Lennox Lewis.

Holyfield had Mike Tyson's number