|Holyfield, left, fought and lost against Valuev in December 2009 [GALLO/GETTY]|
Former world cruiserweight and heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield will challenge South African boxer Francois Botha for the WBF world heavyweight title in Uganda on January 16.
The 47-year-old American is chasing an opportunity to regain his credibility as a big draw, believing victory could give him a shot at a more prestigious title.
Holyfield (42-10 with 2 draws) has not fought since losing a points decision to Nikolai Valuev a year ago and the former four-time world champion has won only five of his last 12 contests.
Organisers at Kampala’s Nambole Stadium are predicting a crowd of 80,000 fans and pay-per-view revenue for the cash-strapped boxer.
“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.”
Holyfield has faced money problems in the past, twice facing foreclosure on his estate in suburban Atlanta over a default on a $10 million loan and, although his money woes have since eased, he will need 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.
“Expect the fittest, toughest and best ever – and extremely serious – Francois Botha in Uganda in January. I owe my fans and members of Team Botha the performance of my life. I intend to make good on that.”