Evander Holyfield (born October 19, 1962) is an American former professional boxer. He held the undisputed world championship in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions, earning him the nickname “The Real Deal“. He is the only four-time world heavyweight champion, having won the WBA, WBC, IBF and lineal titles in 1990; the WBA, IBF and lineal titles again in 1993; and WBA and IBF titles in 1996; and the WBA title for a fourth time in 2000.
As an amateur, Holyfield represented the United States at the 1984 Olympics, winning a bronze medal in the light heavyweight division. He turned professional at the age of 21, moving up to cruiserweight in 1985 and won his first world championship the following year, when he defeated Dwight Muhammad Qawi for the WBA title. Holyfield then went on to defeat Ricky Parkey and Carlos de León to win the WBC, IBF and lineal titles, thus becoming the undisputed cruiserweight champion. He moved up to heavyweight in 1988, later knocking out Buster Douglas in 1990 to claim the undisputed WBA, WBC, IBF, The Ring magazine and lineal heavyweight titles.
He successfully defended the heavyweight crown three times, scoring victories over former champions George Foreman and Larry Holmes, before suffering his first professional loss to Riddick Bowe in 1992. Holyfield regained the crown in a rematch one year later, beating Bowe by majority decision for the WBA and IBF titles (Bowe having relinquished the WBC title beforehand). Holyfield later lost the titles to Michael Moorer in 1994 by majority decision.
Holyfield was forced to retire in 1994, only to return a year later. In 1996 he went on to defeat Mike Tyson by eleventh-round technical knockout to reclaim the WBA title, in what was named by The Ring as the Fight of the Year and Upset of the Year. This made Holyfield the first boxer since Muhammad Ali to win the world heavyweight title three times. Seven months later, Holyfield won the 1997 rematch against Tyson, when the latter was disqualified in round three for biting off part of Holyfield’s ear. During this reign as champion, he also avenged his loss to Michael Moorer, when he stopped him in eight rounds to reclaim the IBF title.
In 1999 he faced Lennox Lewis in a unification bout for the undisputed WBA, WBC, IBF and lineal titles, which ended in a controversial split draw. Holyfield was defeated in a rematch eight months later. The following year, he won a unanimous decision over John Ruiz for the vacant WBA title, becoming the first boxer in history to win a version of the heavyweight title four times. Holyfield lost a rematch against Ruiz seven months later and faced him for the third time in a draw.
Holyfield retired in 2014, and is ranked number 77 on The Ring’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. BoxingScene also ranked him the greatest cruiserweight of all time.