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Evander Holyfield

Life and Death For Real

April 22, 1994 – Las Vegas

Riddick Bowe had taken away all three of Evander’s belts when he won their first fight. But because of a strange series of events, when Evander won the “Fan Man” rematch he only got two of them back. Five months later he put them on the line against Michael Moorer.

Prior to the fight, Evander hurt his shoulder in training. He tried to work through it but it only got worse so he eased up on his workouts. As the fight approached, he decided that it felt good enough to go into the ring.

The first round was fairly tame but in the second, Evander threw a tremendous left that sent Moorer crashing to the canvas. Unfortunately, there was no time for the champ to savor the moment: As the punch connected he felt a vicious pain knife through his upper arm and he knew in an instant something terrible had happened. After Moorer got back up and the fight resumed, the pain kept getting worse, and Evander quickly discovered that his left arm had become virtually useless. But he kept on going, forcing himself to throw the occasional left to keep the ref from noticing that something was wrong so he wouldn’t stop the fight.

Evander had torn his rotator cuff, but fought on through ten more agonizing rounds. Moorer was in the hands of the uncannily insightful trainer Teddy Atlas, who knew something wasn’t quite right with Evander even if he didn’t know exactly what. Atlas prodded, cajoled and cursed Moorer, and after going the full distance, the challenger won a split decision by a single point.

Losing the fight and his two championship belts was the least of Evander’s problems. After being rushed to the ER and pumped full of morphine and saline, he was told by the attending physicians that he’d suffered a heart attack in the ring and was lucky to be alive. Doctors at the prestigious Emery University Hospital confirmed the diagnosis the next day: Evander had a defect in his heart, a small hole, and would never be able to fight again.

Of course, the story doesn’t end there…

© 2011 by Steeplechase Run, Inc. All Rights Reserved — Posted by permission of the author