By JAN M. OLSEN, Associated Press
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – At 48, Evander Holyfield just won’t give up on his hopes of regaining the world heavyweight title.
The former undisputed champion resumes his longshot quest Saturday when he takes on Denmark’s 46-year-old Brian Nielsen in a non-title bout in the Danish capital.
“My goal is to be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world … again,” Holyfield said.
In his last ring appearance, Holyfield was cut above the left eye by an accidental head butt in his fight with Sherman Williams in January. The bout was ruled a no-contest.
This time, trainer Tommy Brooks predicts Holyfield (43-10-2) will beat Nielsen in two rounds.
“I think Evander is in a much better shape than (Nielsen) is in and we’re going to take advantage of that,” Brooks said. “The first mistake he makes, we’re going to capitalize on that.”
Holyfield, who held the world title four times, remained more cautious.
“I am going out to give my very best,” he said. “I’ll take one round at the time. Anything is possible. If you hit people with a clean shot, people will fall.”
At the “moon-marred” weigh-in Friday, Holyfield came in at 225 pounds and Nielsen at 238. The usually tense atmosphere was light as Nielsen pulled down his shorts and exposed his bare backside to the audience before getting on the scale. He said a member of the crowd had asked for it.
“I gave it to them,” said Nielsen, who is known for his clowning stunts. “It needn’t be boring.”
Later, the men burst into laughter when they tried to pose face-to-face before photographers with their fists raised for a fight-like pose.
The bout at the 2,100-seat Copenhagen Concert Hall was initially set for March 5 but postponed to give Holyfield more time to recover from the cut above the eye.
“I have no problems at all. I have a scar that is all. I don’t feel any pain,” Holyfield told The Associated Press.
Nielsen (64-2, 43 KOs) is a popular figure in Denmark, where he is affectionately known as “Super Brian.” He acknowledged that Holyfield was the favorite, but promised the fight won’t be a walkover. He spent eight months in an intensive training camp in Germany away from his family for his first fight in nine years.
“I know that he will be really tough to beat, but he won’t meet someone who will throw himself onto the floor before him,” said Nielsen, who lost 44 pounds during training. “I will fight until I cannot stand up any longer.”
However, its been a tough year for Nielsen.
His wife Jeannette gave birth to twins while battling breast cancer. In March, Nielsen’s 24-year-old son from a previous relationship, Steffen, was sentenced to 10 months in jail for assault.
“I feel ready, I can do it,” said Nielsen, who last fought in 2002 and retired soon after because of a knee injury.
The Dane won the lightly regarded IBO title in 1996 when he stopped Tony La Rosa in the second round. He also ended 47-year-old former champion Larry Holmes’ hopes of a winning another belt in a successful title defense a year later.
Promoter Kalle Sauerland said all but “some 200” tickets have been sold for the fight. Ticket prices range from $299 to $896.
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