OCTOBER 25, 1990. Mirage Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas. Evander Holyfield delivers a crisp blast to James Douglas’ chin and watches the world heavyweight champion crash to the mat. “Buster” had beaten Mike Tyson just eight months before, causing jaws the world over to hang in shock. But that incredible courage and determination was a one-time deal. Douglas, now rich beyond his wildest dreams, does not get up. Murmurs of the fallen king’s cowardice cloud Holyfield’s coronation. All that greets his reign is indifference, and a feeling that Tyson will soon be back to remove this latest imposter from the throne.
“It was exactly like that,” Holyfield said, just shy of 52 and only a few months into retirement. “They were saying that Tyson would bust me up. For years people were telling me that. They did not regard me as the best heavyweight in the world even though I was the world heavyweight champion. They said I was a substitute champ. It did make me mad. But then I realised I couldn’t get mad at people just because they had an opinion.”