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Holyfield, Botha tomeet for WBF title

Published:Friday | January 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM


KAMPALA, Uganda (AP):

Evander Holyfield will challenge Francois Botha for the lightly regarded World Boxing Federation (WBF) world heavyweight title in Uganda on January 16 in his latest bid to regain credibility as a big draw in the ring.

Organisers for the fight at Kampala's Nambole Stadium said yesterday that both boxers had signed contracts. They predicted a crowd of 80,000 fans and the potential of a big pay-per-view payout for the cash-strapped Holyfield, a former four-time world champion who has won only five of his last 12 contests.

"I am very much looking forward to going to Uganda and I expect a tough fight against Francois Botha," Holyfield said. "I am going to win and I will cherish the WBF world title."

More prestigious title

Holyfield (42-10 with 2 draws) has not fought since losing a points decision to Nikolai Valuev a year ago. The 47-year-old American, a former world cruiserweight and heavyweight champion, believes a victory could give him a shot at a more prestigious title.

He badly needs it. Holyfield twice faced foreclosure on his estate in suburban Atlanta over a default on a $10 million loan and, although his money woes have since eased, he has to get back to facing more credible opponents than Botha.

Holyfield has earned more than $200 million in the ring, including a reported $34 million for his second bout with Mike Tyson in 1997. That was the 'Bite Fight' that ended with Tyson being disqualified for chewing off a chunk of Holyfield's ear.

Holyfield also beat Larry Holmes, lost two of his three contests with Riddick Bowe, drew with and then lost to Lennox Lewis and had a win-lose-draw sequence against John Ruiz.

Three defeats in a row to Chris Byrd, James Toney and Larry Donald accelerated his decline, and Holyfield was out of the ring for 21 months before returning in August 2006 to start a run of four straight wins.

Holyfield's last two fights were losses to Sultan Ibragimov and then to Valuev, a majority decision he disputed. Since then, Ibragimov has retired and Valuev surrendered his WBA title to David Haye.

Botha (47-4 with 3 draws) has lost to Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko and Michael Moorer and retained his WBF title by drawing with Pedro Carrion of Cuba in Germany in October.

"I have always been my own harshest critic. My performance against Carrion, without making any excuses, was arguably the worst of my career," the South African said.