Former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield says he doesn’t have much advice for his son Evan before his first professional fight.
“You’ve got to be at your very best. That’s it,” said the elder Holyfield, boxing’s only four-time heavyweight champion. “I told all my kids … I boxed and did all this for you to find something that you love and you can be successful at.”
For Evan Holyfield, that something is boxing.
The 22-year-old is ready to follow in his father’s footsteps and will debut Saturday against Nick Winstead on the Canelo Alvarez-Sergey Kovalev undercard at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. He knows the comparisons are inevitable, but he’s embracing the pressure associated with his last name.
“Pressure is either going to make you elevate your game or you’re going to stay where you’re at,” said the 6-foot-2-inch super welterweight, who lives in Houston. “Pushing the boundaries is what really makes a person great. I’m not saying I’m necessarily great, but I can be on my way there.”
Holyfield has long admired his famous father and knew when he was 13 that he wanted to box for a living. He tried playing football. He tried playing basketball.
But nothing quite compared to the sweet science.
“Football wasn’t my game. Basketball wasn’t my game,” he said. “I really knew I loved boxing. I study the game. I’m a student of the game, and I really love this. … I put all my marbles in that basket and took that risk.”
So Holyfield trained and trained. He fought and fought. For almost a decade at the amateur level. He said it wasn’t always easy despite his inherent advantages and recalled sparring against Golden Gloves champions in his native Atlanta.
“I’d get beat up sometimes,” he said. “Sometimes I would be upset with myself and stuff like that. It’s easy to get down on yourself when you’re not doing as good as you want.”
All part of the process.
Holyfield logged 80 amateur bouts before signing with Main Events Promotions and promoter Kathy Duva, who also promoted Evander Holyfield and on Thursday remembered signing him almost 35 years ago.
“It kind of blows my mind. I never would have expected something like this, but it’s really cool,” Duva said of Evan Holyfield’s professional career. “He has that drive. … Evander had it obviously. His ambition, whenever he reached a goal, he set another one. I get that feeling that Evan is that kind of person.”
The younger Holyfield is at ease ahead of perhaps the most important day of his life to this point. He hosted a meet-and-greet Thursday at a restaurant inside the MGM Grand, gleefully mingling with anyone who wanted a word.
His father stood some 30 feet away, doing the same exact thing on behalf of his son.
“I just want to be remembered next to my dad,” Evan Holyfield said. “There’s never been a father-son tandem that’s in the Hall of Fame. I want to be the first. I want to be remembered next to his name. Or even above.”
Who: Canelo Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena
TV: DAZN (streaming)
Odds: Alvarez -455; Kovalev +300 (William Hill)