Why Did Evander Holyfield Stop Fighting?

Mike Pedersen

evander holyfield stop fighting

Evander Holyfield, a legendary figure in the world of professional boxing, captivated audiences with his extraordinary skills, unyielding determination, and relentless spirit in the ring.

However, there came a point in Holyfield’s storied career when he made a decision that left fans and pundits questioning why such a remarkable fighter would choose to step away from the sport he dominated.

This article delves into the untold story behind why Evander Holyfield stopped fighting. Beyond the fame and glory, Holyfield faced a formidable adversary in the form of health issues, most notably a heart condition that forced him to confront his mortality.

Additionally, declining performance and the toll of age weighed heavily on the decision-making process. Financial considerations and the pursuit of a fulfilling life after boxing also played a role.

Join us as we unravel the multifaceted reasons behind Holyfield’s retirement, gaining insight into the complexities of a fighter’s journey both inside and outside the ring.

Why Did Evander Holyfield Stop Fighting?

Evander Holyfield is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time. He achieved tremendous success throughout his career and became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world at one point. Holyfield’s boxing career spanned several decades, from the 1980s to the 2010s.

However, it is common for fighters to retire after achieving significant milestones in their careers or after financial considerations, especially if they have made enough money during their career and want to prioritize their health and well-being. 

Here are the reasons why did Evander Holyfield stop fighting:

Age and health Issues

Holyfield was already past his prime when he entered the new millennium. He was in his late 30s, and his body had taken a lot of punishment from years of hard training and fierce competition. He suffered several injuries and illnesses that affected his performance and health, such as a shoulder injury in 2000, a viral infection in 2001, and hepatitis C in 2004. He also had a heart condition that was diagnosed in 1994, after he lost his titles to Michael Moorer. Although he was cleared to fight again after undergoing medical treatment, his heart problem raised concerns about his safety and longevity in the ring.

Declining skills and Results

As Holyfield aged, his skills and abilities declined as well. He was no longer as fast, powerful, or agile as he used to be. He struggled to keep up with younger and stronger opponents, who exploited his weaknesses and exposed his flaws. He lost more fights than he won in the last decade of his career, often by unanimous decision or knockout. He also failed to regain any of the major titles that he had lost, despite challenging for them several times. His last title shot was in 2008, when he faced Nikolai Valuev for the WBA heavyweight title. He lost by a controversial majority decision, which many observers felt he deserved to win. However, he never got a rematch or another opportunity to fight for a belt.

Financial and Personal Problems

Holyfield’s retirement was also influenced by his financial and personal problems. He had earned millions of dollars from his boxing career, but he also spent lavishly and irresponsibly on various things, such as mansions, cars, jewelry, and child support. He had 11 children with six different women, and he was married four times. He faced several lawsuits and legal battles over unpaid debts, taxes, alimony, and child support. He also had to sell some of his assets and properties to pay off his creditors and avoid bankruptcy. He admitted that he continued to fight well into his 40s partly because he needed the money to support his lifestyle and family.

Lack of Motivation and Recognition

Finally, Holyfield stopped fighting because he lacked the motivation and recognition that he once had. He had already achieved everything that he wanted in boxing: fame, fortune, glory, respect, and legacy. He had nothing left to prove or accomplish in the sport. He also felt that he was not appreciated or respected by the boxing authorities and fans, who often criticized him for fighting too long or too often. He felt that he was not given the credit or recognition that he deserved for his achievements and contributions to boxing. He also felt that he was not given the opportunities or challenges that he wanted, such as fighting for another title or facing another big name.

When Did Evander Holyfield Stop Fighting

Evander Holyfield is a former professional boxer who competed from 1984 to 2011. He was the undisputed champion at cruiserweight and heavyweight, and the only boxer to win the undisputed title in two weight classes. He is also known for his two fights with Mike Tyson, one of which ended with Tyson biting off part of his ear. Holyfield’s last fight was against Brian Nielsen on May 7, 2011, which he won by TKO in the 10th round. He also fought against Vitor Belfort on September 11, 2021, but lost by TKO in the first round.

Evander Holyfield’s Career Records

Here is a summarized list of Evander Holyfield’s remarkable record in professional boxing:

Professional Debut

November 15, 1984, against Lionel Byarm (Win by TKO in the 2nd round).

Weight Class: Light Heavyweight (1984-1985)

    • Total Fights: 12
    • Wins: 12
    • Wins by KO: 8
    • Losses: 0
    • Draws: 0

Weight Class: Light Heavyweight (1984-1985)

  • Total Fights: 12
  • Wins: 12
  • Wins by KO: 8
  • Losses: 0
  • Draws: 0

Weight Class: Cruiserweight (1985-1988)

  • Total Fights: 12
  • Wins: 12
  • Wins by KO: 8
  • Losses: 0
  • Draws: 0

Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion: April 9, 1988

  • defeated Carlos de León by KO in the 8th round.

Weight Class: Heavyweight (1988-2011)

  • Total Fights: 39
  • Wins: 31
  • Wins by KO: 22
  • Losses: 7
  • Draws: 2
  • No Contest: 1

Unified Heavyweight Champion: October 25, 1990

  • defeated Buster Douglas by KO in the 3rd round to claim the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles.

Four-time World Heavyweight Champion:

  • Regained the titles from Riddick Bowe on November 6, 1993.
  • Lost to Michael Moorer on April 22, 1994.
  • Reclaimed the WBA title from Mike Tyson on November 9, 1996.
  • Won the WBA title for the fourth time against John Ruiz on August 12, 2000.

Notable Wins:

  • George Foreman (Defeated him by unanimous decision on April 19, 1991).
  • Larry Holmes (Defeated him by TKO in the 4th round on June 19, 1992).
  • Mike Tyson (Won by TKO in the 11th round on November 9, 1996).
  • Mike Tyson (Won by disqualification after Tyson bit his ear on June 28, 1997).
  • Michael Moorer (Avenged his loss with a TKO win on November 8, 1997).
  • Retirement: Evander Holyfield officially retired from professional boxing in 2011.


Did Evander Holyfield ever attempt a comeback after his retirement?

Yes, Evander Holyfield did attempt a comeback after his retirement. He made several comeback attempts, with the most notable one being in 2005 when he returned to the ring after a two-year hiatus.

What were some of Evander Holyfield’s notable philanthropic efforts?

Evander Holyfield has been actively involved in philanthropy throughout his career and post-retirement. He established The Holyfield Foundation, which focuses on providing education, medical assistance, and resources to underprivileged youth.

How has Evander Holyfield’s retirement impacted the sport of boxing?

Evander Holyfield’s retirement marked the end of an era in boxing. His departure from the sport left a void in the heavyweight division and signaled a transition to a new generation of fighters.

Has Evander Holyfield pursued any business ventures outside of boxing?

Yes, Evander Holyfield has ventured into various business endeavors beyond boxing. He has been involved in real estate investments, owning and operating several commercial properties. Holyfield has also explored entrepreneurial projects, including the launch of his own line of grills. 

How has Evander Holyfield’s retirement influenced his relationship with the boxing community?

Evander Holyfield’s retirement has solidified his position as a respected figure within the boxing community. He is regarded as one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time, and his accomplishments in the ring have earned him admiration from fans and fellow boxers alike. 


The decision of Evander Holyfield to retire from professional boxing was a culmination of various factors that shaped his journey in and out of the ring.

The revelation of a heart condition, declining performance, and the challenges posed by age all played significant roles in his ultimate decision. Financial considerations and the pursuit of a secure future post-retirement also factored into the equation.

Despite stepping away from active competition, Holyfield’s impact on boxing remains indelible. His contributions to the sport, both in terms of his accomplishments and his exemplary sportsmanship, will forever be etched in the annals of boxing history.

Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy and his ongoing influence on younger generations of boxers demonstrate a legacy that extends far beyond the boundaries of the ring.

Evander Holyfield’s story serves as a reminder of the complexities and sacrifices that come with being a boxing legend, leaving an enduring mark on the sport and inspiring future champions.

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Mike Pedersen

I'm a sports researcher and writer. I have been involved in sports writing for the last 10 years, so I can help you with your content writing needs. I have experience in sports writing and research as well as copywriting. I also have experience in producing content for digital platforms such as websites and social media channels. But my field of love is Boxing. LinkedIn

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