I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

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I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Evolution
Hello everyone. I'm a friend of AJ's from another forum. I used to box professionally from time to time, but nowadays I still spar. I've sparred with many legends. AJ asked to me describe what it is like to be in the ring with them and gauge their punching power. I will not reveal my name for personal reasons, but under anoymousity I feel a bit safer. If you want to know my identity send me an email, but I doubt you've heard of me anyway. I only had three professional fights.

I fought Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe as an amateur.

Riddicks power wasnt memorable to me. It probably got better as he got older, cause he never even remotely buzzed me in either of our contests.

Lennox hit like a fucking tank. He cowed me; I won the first round, and he literally broke my spirit and took my soul with a right uppercut and straight right hand in the 2nd. I tried to stay away, and forgot to punch. He never got me quite as good again, but I will never forget those two punches. When we sparred years later, he hit very hard. Distinctly unpleasant to be hit by the man.

David Tua was unpleasant. I can't see myself getting stopped by him early, as he never really staggers me, but every shot hurt, and he'd bang. Every other guy I ever sparred would box when I got aggressive, but David would stand his ground and give. I'd get these horrible headaches after sparring with him, and Dave told me once that whenever he knew I was on the dance card, he'd drink extra water for his brain. Nice guy. Hit like a wrecking ball. David Tua hit hard enough to knock my headgear clean around my face. Dude had a pretty limited style, but that left was quick as a cobra when he was sharp, and boy did it have bite. Having sparred them both, Wladimir would school Tua and probably turn out his lights. He just lacks almost any sort of refinement to his violence. Granted, I don't really either unless I'm really, really on that day, but the best heavyweights I've sparred handled me a lot easier than David did.
Feels kinda bad critiquing the dude, though. He's a fun guy, super hospitable and friendly, hit like a truck and put me through plenty of painful paces. I only hope our careers and lives don't end up with me required to face him with 12's and no mask. I can't afford the surgery.

Evander Holyfield was a machine gun. He put me on my butt first round we ever sparred with a 7 or 8 punch volley. He just punched well; He'd move around and when he let them go, they hit, hard and fast and in large numbers. He was the weakest of the group since Bowe, but probably the most dangerous. He never found me difficult to find, and turned me into a bobble head more than once.

George Foreman was tricky. His jab was absolutely numbing-Ive never felt a jab like that, where your whole face would feel like it got novacained after he hit you with it. He'd also throw light punches primarily, almost pitty pat, till he had the opening, and then he'd wallop you. His punches had the most force; They didn't hurt any worse than Tua or Lewis, but I remember how badly they'd screw with my balance. His shots moved me. He also broke my nose with a straight right.

Wladimir Klitschko hit me by far the hardest, though. I couldn't get past the jab, and his right hands hit like thunder. They reminded me of Lewis', but they were quicker and sharper. Wladimir staggered me regularly in sparring. There are literally whole rounds I don't remember. He also knocked me out with a left hook. Not down, out. Only time in my life I've seen canvas and not been able to stand up by 10 seconds.

Any other questions about these men, don't hesitate.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Evan Fields
Thank you for sharing this with us. The Rock will be back with more questions later.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Duggerman
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In reply to this post by Evolution
Thanks for stopping through, Evolution. I know the right hand of Lennox Lewis only got stronger as he aged. He hadn't quite filled out yet when you fought him.

You read my mind regarding David Tua's chances against Wlad. Tua is limited and would lose an embarrassing decision. He might even get stopped. :(

Good points about George Foreman, too. He hit with a lot of force. I know that during his second career, he would hit you lightly and then destroy you all of a sudden with the real power punches. That's how he knocked out Michael Moorer. He landed a soft jab and then clobbered him with a booming right hand. Old George Foreman was better than the young George Foreman, in my opinion.

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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Zorro
In reply to this post by Evolution
I could tell right off that you sparred with old Foreman judging by how you described his style. He was an intelligent fighter with a heavy jab and brilliant ring smarts. Thank you for telling us these stories.

Thanks also for emphatizing the punching power of Lennox Lewis. His power is underrated.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Duggerman
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In reply to this post by Evolution
Evolution wrote
Wladimir Klitschko hit me by far the hardest, though. I couldn't get past the jab, and his right hands hit like thunder. They reminded me of Lewis', but they were quicker and sharper. Wladimir staggered me regularly in sparring. There are literally whole rounds I don't remember. He also knocked me out with a left hook. Not down, out. Only time in my life I've seen canvas and not been able to stand up by 10 seconds.
The Klitschko brothers can really bang but they prefer to fight like scientists. It sounds like Wlad really let you have it that day. He used his left hook more daringly than Lewis, who generally used his left hook only in combinations. Wlad would crush you with a left hook without warning.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Shane
In reply to this post by Evolution
This is great....a fresh perspective on sparring with some of the greats. Evander Holyfield is just what I imagined he'd be based on your description; a sharp puncher with slick moves and excellent countering ability. No punches are wasted and every shot stuns you. What a warrior.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Zorro
Did you spar with anyone else, Evolution?
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Evan Fields
In reply to this post by Evolution
How would you rate your chin, Evolution? It sounds like you have a great beard.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Urban Legend
I've always wanted to talk to a first hand victim of George Foreman's power. Thank you for sharing.
However I still think David Tua's power is overrated to a degree. What big names with good chins has he knocked out?
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Evolution
This post was updated on .
@Zorro. I've sparred with a few middleweights here and there, and I got it on with Buster Douglas and Bert Cooper in sparring sessions too.

@The Gr8 One: I think I have a good chin. I've only been knocked out once and that was by Wlad. I've been staggered and hurt plenty of times. I've been dropped a few times too but only KO'd once.

@Urban Legend: No sir!! David Tua's punching power is not overrated. I can attest to that. He and George Foreman have a similar feel but Big George is a much better fighter.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Duggerman
Administrator
In reply to this post by Urban Legend
Urban Legend wrote
However I still think David Tua's power is overrated to a degree. What big names with good chins has he knocked out?
David Tua knocked out Hasim Rahman, Michael Moorer, (in 30 seconds) John Ruiz (19 seconds) and Oleg Maskavez, all of whom are former world champions. The left hook of David Tua is no joke. I've seen him stop some guys with a single body shot.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Evolution
I got an email asking if I ever sparred with Mike Tyson. My run-ins with Mike were not good.

Me and Mike grew up in the same neighborhood for quite awhile before I moved to PA permanently(Not just summers).

Never was a very nice guy, but he was better in the teen form. We built a bit of a rapport(NY boxers) and had some jokes. I would even call us friendly.

I encountered him later in the aftermath of the Holyfield rematch. I asked him "How are you doing champ?" It did not go well. He and his, I guess you would call them posse, berated me for even having the balls to talk to him. I informed him of my identity, in case he didn't know. He asked me, rather sternly and with many curses, not to pretend I knew him.

He seems more calm and mellow lately, and I'm sure the days following his DQ loss weren't pleasant for him, but its about as aggressive and rude as a man has ever been to my face, and my opinions of him are, by extension, a little bit jaded.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Zombies Ate Me
I'm not surprised that Mike was an a$$hole to you, especially back then, homie. His life was chaotic but he's doing much better now. He might even apologize to you if you saw him. He has matured. I think you ran into him right at his breaking point unfortuneattly.

Tell me what it was like sparring with Buster Douglas and Bert Cooper :) And what is your style like in the ring?
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Evolution
Zombies Ate Me wrote
I'm not surprised that Mike was an a$$hole to you, especially back then, homie. His life was chaotic but he's doing much better now. He might even apologize to you if you saw him. He has matured. I think you ran into him right at his breaking point unfortuneattly.

Tell me what it was like sparring with Buster Douglas and Bert Cooper :) And what is your style like in the ring?
Buster Douglas was lazy. I used to do really well against him. I was shocked when he knocked out Mike Tyson, as was the rest of the world. He was moving good, throwing double jabs and throwing some solid combinations and big punches. I didn't know he had it in him!!! He was not the same guy I used to beat up in the gym everyday.

I met Joe Frazier when he was an older gentleman, so naturally I never sparred with him. But I could tell that he trained Smokin' Bert Cooper. Bert stayed on me and didn't give me any chance to compose myself. Unlike prime Frazier he threw right hands, too. He hit hard. He routinely knocked out his sparring partners and I was one of the few to never get knocked out by him, although he put me on the canvas twice. Of course Bert was not as good as Joe Frazier (not even close) but fighting him was a mere hint of what I imagine it would be like to fight Smokin' Joe--the constant pressure, body shots, huge power, etc.

My style? I'm about six feet, four inches. 230 pounds.

I try to cut the ring and land my right hand, working behind the jab. People have said I look like a big, slow Shannon Briggs, but unlike Shannon, I generally don't get aggressive until I have my man hurt.

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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Duggerman
Administrator
This post was updated on .
Evolution wrote
Buster Douglas was lazy. I used to do really well against him. I was shocked when he knocked out Mike Tyson, as was the rest of the world. He was moving good, throwing double jabs and throwing some solid combinations and big punches. I didn't know he had it in him!!! He was not the same guy I used to beat up in the gym everyday.

I met Joe Frazier when he was an older gentleman, so naturally I never sparred with him. But I could tell that he trained Smokin' Bert Cooper. Bert stayed on me and didn't give me any chance to compose myself. Unlike prime Frazier he threw right hands, too. He hit hard. He routinely knocked out his sparring partners and I was one of the few to never get knocked out by him, although he put me on the canvas twice. Of course Bert was not as good as Joe Frazier (not even close) but fighting him was a mere hint of what I imagine it would be like to fight Smokin' Joe--the constant pressure, body shots, huge power, etc.

My style? I'm about six feet, four inches. 230 pounds.

I try to cut the ring and land my right hand, working behind the jab. People have said I look like a big, slow Shannon Briggs, but unlike Shannon, I generally don't get aggressive until I have my man hurt.
Interesting. So you survived David Tua's left hook hundreds of times, but Bert Cooper floored you? Did he punch as hard as Tua?
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Evolution
Duggerman wrote
Interesting. So you survived David Tua's left hook hundreds of times, but Bert Cooper flowed you? Did he punch as hard as Tua?
They had similar power. If anything David had a small edge but either man could crush you with one shot. I used to spar with Bert in the late 80s. Back then my chin wasn't as strong as it is now. Sparring partners develop good beards because they get beat up all the time. Your body gets used to it.

By the time I started sparring with David he was rough around the edges, and I had grown used to taking punishment. So I could withstand his punches but man they hurt. Every last one of them.
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Duggerman
Administrator
Out of all the men you sparred with, who was the toughest? Who would you say was the best? And who, in your opinion, is the greatest of all time?
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Shane
Hey Evolution. You said that Holyfield is tough enough to beat anybody. Do you think he could handle prime Tyson? (1985-88)

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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

KB50MJ
In reply to this post by Evolution
Wow. I would have never have thought that Wladimir Klitschko hit harder than David Tua and George Foreman
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Re: I sparred with Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, David Tua and others

Evolution
In reply to this post by Duggerman
Duggerman wrote
Out of all the men you sparred with, who was the toughest? Who would you say was the best? And who, in your opinion, is the greatest of all time?
These are some great questions.

The toughest: Either Wladimir or Evander Holyfield. Wlad hurt me with every punch and I could never get anything going. He's the only man to knock me out. I'll never forget that left hook. Lennox had a great left hook too but chose to throw it in combinations. Wlad would crack you with it without warning.

Evander Holyfield is tough enough to beat anyone. He counters every mistake you make and always hits you off balance or with a string of effective shots at once. He recovers really quickly too. Evander was tough and full of surprises. He's one of the best fighters of all time and I felt that just from sparring with him.

The Best?: That is hard to say. I will say that Lennox Lewis deserves his praise as one of the greatest of all time. He could crack you with either hand and break your confidence. He had such long reach that we spent entire rounds where I couldn't get near enough to land a finger on him but he was comfortably plugging me with his jab from what felt like across the ring. I could rarely get close enough to land anything on Lennox and when I did he would crack me with that uppercut. He was dangerous to fight and could do it all. Brawl, slug, box, counter, everything. Lennox, Wlad and Holyfield are the best I fought but old George Foreman was a terror, too. So was Bert Cooper when he kept his head on straight.

Greatest of All time?: Muhammad Ali from the things I've heard and seen. Joe Frazier and Joe Louis were terrific fighters as well. I'd have to throw Lennox and Evander into my top ten as well. Wlad is good but I think other heavyweights would toy with him.

Prime Tyson and Prime Holyfield? I think Evander had Mike Tyson's number. I never sparred with Mike, and I might be a bit biased because he was an asshole to me but Evander knew how to deal with Mike's style. Evander used to regularly spar with men like David Tua and Gary Bell, both men who were clones of Mike Tyson. Evander also conquered Ray Mercer, another Tyson-esque heavyweight. There isn't a style around that Evander Holyfield couldn't adapt to and beat.

@KB50MJ. Yes, Wlad could crack. Hard. With men like George Foreman and David Tua it was more of the force of the punch than the punch itself. Their punches have a similar feel. To be fair I regularly sparred with the old versions of both but old George was tons better than old Tua: George had better ring generalship, a powerful jab and set you up with combinations or for a big knockout shot. David Tua was predictable and easy to figure out but can knock out anyone. I feel bad for critiquing David because he's such a nice man. A real teddy bear.

I try to check in once a week at least so keep the questions coming.

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