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Ibragimov -vs- Holyfield: Is Holyfield the modern day Cinderella Man?

With these four Russian titlists locking down a once glamourous heavyweight division, can a 44 year old Holyfield in fact be the hero that the people and fans of the United States are looking for?


On October 13, undefeated WBO Heavyweight Champion Sultan Ibragimov will defend his title against Former Four Time Heavyweight Champion and recently re-surging legend Evander "The Real Deal" Holyfield at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia. In this title match, Holyfield assumes the role of the re surging yet unlikely challenger.


This marks Holyfield's first title fight in almost five years, the last one coming in December of 2002 when he lost a unanimous decision to Chris Byrd for the vacant IBF title. Ibragimov, one of the four titlists, is coming off an uninspiring title winning victory over Shannon Briggs this past June. He's likely to be the betting favorite going into the fight, but look at where Holyfield has come from and where he's at.

After his three consecutive losses to Chris Byrd, James Toney, and Larry Donald (talk about the icing on the cake of a sad losing streak), commissioners in NY tried to ban Holyfield from ever fighting again. From November 2004 until August 2006, Holyfield would remain inactive and was presumed to be finished goods following the one sided decision loss to Donald. However, The Real Deal returned to action in August of 2006 when he stopped Jeremy Bates in two easy rounds. When asked about the losses he had suffered leading up to his latest comeback, Holyfield cited shoulder injuries for the reason behind his losing streak.

Following the victory over Bates, Holyfield posted wins against the likes of Fres Oquendo, Vinny Madalone, and Lou Saverese. Whether or not Holyfield should still be fighting, the fact remains that Holyfield's form in the ring looks better than it ever has in the last five or six years. Taking into account the state of heavyweight division, and what these four Russian titlists have accomplished in recent history, Holyfield has probably accomplished more in the ring in the last 13 months than the titlists have in the last two or three years.

Wladimir Klitschko is really the only titlist who makes a solid claim to posting more impressive wins, with victories over Sam Peter, Chris Byrd, Calvin Brock, Ray Austin, and a revenge victory over Lamon Brewster this past July. Other than Klitschko, the other titlists have done very little to steak their claim as true champions and represent the heavyweight division the way it should be represented to the general public.

The question is, can Holyfield, who was presumed to be a shot fighter after some poor performances in the ring, cap off his latest comeback by adding a record breaking fifth title to his collection on October 13 in Russia??? Should Holyfield emerge victorious against Ibragimov, it would signify an inspiring success story not unlike that of Jimmy Braddock's comeback from poverty during The Great Depression to World Champion status.

Let's face it folks, this is a man (really a legend), much like Braddock, who was told he couldn't fight again after giving accounts of himself that reflected that of a shot fighter. Since that time Holyfield is on a four fight winning streak and he's not looking back. He's been kicking ass and taking names. We should note that he's doing so at a time when the heavyweight division is not exactly at it's peak in terms of talent. If an aging Holyfield is going to make history and win another title, this is the ideal time for him to do so. Still, if Holyfield upsets Ibragimov next month, there could be a at least a few people calling him the modern day Cinderella Man.

Originally it was planned for ESPN Classic to show the fight, but ESPN supposedly couldn't come up with the money, so it's being televised on an American Pay Per View network. Go figure.

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