Evander Holyfield believes Tyson Fury could have posed a major threat if he had competed during his era and insists he’s currently the number one in the division.
Unbeaten Fury stopped Deontay Wilder in emphatic fashion in Las Vegas in February to become WBC World champion, as well as collecting the prized Ring Magazine belt.
And ‘The Real Deal’ who made history, securing the Undisputed Cruiserweight and Heavyweight Championships during a decorated career believes the ‘Gypsy King’ would have proved a worthy challenge, during an unprecedented era which featured Hall of Famers, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe and later on, Lennox Lewis.
Asked if Fury would have the tools to compete in his era, Holyfield told Pro Boxing Fans: “Well it’s obvious he came from a family that fight, so just think about it.
“In his family life they were fighters, this is what they like doing.
“In a lot of I guess poor people like myself, fighting was one of the things we did well and so you know with Tyson Fury, he comes from a background of fighters.
“So I think you know if he would have been in our era, he would have been one of those guys that would have been good.
“He is very rangy and he’s proven that he can make adjustments.
“Well the thing is I have to think that if he was in our era, he would have fought better fighters, so he had to be tough too because everybody in our era was tough.
“From 1990-2000, you had about six or seven champions.
“I did it four times in that era, there were a lot of good fighters in that era because we had a lot of good amateur fights.”
Fury, a two-time heavyweight champion is set to face Wilder for a third time later this year, but remains on a collision course with unified titlist Anthony Joshua to crown the undisputed champion in 2021, after financial terms were agreed on a two-fight deal.
However, Holyfield, the only four-time Heavyweight World champion has placed Fury above Joshua, as the number one in the division.
Asked who the best current Heavyweight is, the 57-year-old replied: “Tyson Fury. The thing is, is that he’s the guy that hasn’t been beaten.
“But everybody ran into somebody and I think that’s what makes boxing good because people tend to make athletes feel that if you fall short, that means you’re not good.
“But, I would never be the very best if I wasn’t the Heavyweight champion of the World four times, so if you don’t quit you eventually get back but it takes a strong person to lose and come back.
“Think about it as long as boxing has been going I think Floyd Patterson was the first guy that did it two times and then [Muhammad] Ali was the first guy to do it three, I’m the first time to do it four, why?
“Because the fact is I learned from them. If you don’t quit you can come back and if you take care of yourself like that but it takes a lot of hard work to make adjustments.”
Holyfield is set to make a sensational comeback himself after both him and former rival Mike Tyson, 53, announced their intentions to compete in exhibition bouts for charity.
The pair shared two battles in the 1990s with the second meeting remembered for Tyson’s infamous ear bite, which led to a third-round disqualification.
A trilogy bout has been mooted, but Holyfield remains doubtful and insists he’s not waiting on his former foe.
Holyfield continued: “Me personally, I’m going to do this for a foundation that want to tell the young kids pretty much because they didn’t get a chance to see me fight and you want to spread the message to them.
“Records are meant to be broken.
“But as an adult, some people just think it’s until you’re 15 years old, but this is for life, so you’ve got to do the right thing and the right thing will happen.
“I don’t know [if a third bout will happen].
“Mike changes his mind sometimes. Sometimes he says he will or not but it doesn’t make no difference, I will be doing it with somebody.
“The most important thing is the kids. The point of the matter is they say ‘hey, I have seen him do a sparring match, I’ve seen him do this.’
“The point of the matter is here I am, I’m 58-years-old and I can get out there but it just ain’t good for you to be getting hit on the head like this, even though I could do it, but the point of the matter is I don’t have to and I’m thankful.
“I was able to save and do the proper thing with the money which allowed me not to have to take the risk.”
News of a potential return has been met with both excitement and alarm, however, Holyfield, who has been inactive since halting Brian Nielsen in 2011, has played down concerns over his advancing age and has revealed a little known spar he had with former unified Heavyweight World champion, Andy Ruiz Jr 11 years ago.
“The thing is I wouldn’t be in the ring if I couldn’t defend myself and I wouldn’t get in the ring with nobody I believe would beat me up either,” Holyfield added.
“So pretty much, the people I aspire to get in the ring with are people my age and who are probably older than me, fighting wise anyway.
“It’s got a strategy about which you do when you’re going to do things so if the person does get whose advantage it is.
“It’s probably going to be to my advantage and this is how I’m looking at it. I would never really get in the ring with anyone I don’t believe I can win.
“When I sparred that guy [Andy] Ruiz and when he was 19-years-old he was able to tag me when I was 46 and I knew then.
“I don’t pass my age range where it no longer makes sense to get like that by somebody you think you should be able to beat, because experience and all this, but he had speed and I was losing speed.”