Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 26 November 2015

Biting Back: Evander Holyfield shows need for age cap in boxing

Telegraph Sport: where the debate really gets started

With David Kelly

Published 19/10/2012

Evander Holyfield has said he would come out of retirement if the price is right
Evander Holyfield has said he would come out of retirement if the price is right

It is yet another tragic boxing story and the central character is one of the all-time greats, Evander Holyfield.

An Olympic bronze medallist and an undisputed world champion at cruiserweight and heavyweight, Holyfield is a true legend.

Sadly, it was confirmed this week — with the sale of his prized possessions — that the $350m he made from the ring has gone and even as he celebrates his 50th birthday today he would still come out of retirement if the price was right.

Boxing on over the past years for a few dollars more, a sad shadow of his former self, Holyfield was a walking beacon for the need for an age cap in boxing.

Such is the intensity of the fight business, boxers have to be saved from themselves. The old adage that the boxer is the last to know when he no longer has the capacity to do what he used to is so true.

And while an age cap of, say, 40 will not prevent certain boxers from going on far too long, at least it would provide some defence against long term damage.

Of course some will point to the post-40 achievements of the likes of Bernard Hopkins and George Foreman but the issue is not achievement but the damage being done.

As Ricky Hatton says, it’s not a tickling competition. Indeed, the age cap should be lower for the smaller men who reach their peak more quickly.

Boxing is like a drug and the day comes when boxers need saved from it — and those around them who don’t want to acknowledge the danger signs.

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