“Remember -- keep breathing, it’s going to be alright,” Holyfield said on the ESPN/ABC podcast “Capital Games.” “If he trusts me, I can do some things that make him look good. Me -- I can take a punch. I’m good, I’m good. If I get hit, it’s because I want to get hit.”
“I’m a guy you can trust,” Holyfield added. “It won’t be knockout punches.”
Holyfield and Romney are set to square off Friday in Utah to raise money for CharityVision, a nonprofit group that works to restore vision to impoverished people worldwide. The president of the charity is Romney’s son, Josh, who said the idea grew out of a conversation his dad had with Holyfield about a potential fundraising event.
“Somehow the two of them started talking a little smack, and the next thing I know they’re boxing,” he said.
Josh Romney said his father has been training at a gym in Utah, not that that’s helped guarantee a competitive match.
“I’m not real impressed with his jab or uppercut at this point, or his footwork, or basically anything,” he said. “I’m telling him to go all-out to try to get Evander. We kind of have a bet going if he’ll actually ever be able to touch him.”
As for his advice for his father, “I think it would be fun to picture Harry Reid’s face,” Josh Romney said.
Holyfield also offered his take on the recent Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout. Both fighters came under some controversy: Mayweather’s history of domestic violence came under a harsh spotlight in the run-up to the fight, and Pacquiao’s decision not to disclose a shoulder injury has been questioned after the fight took place.
Holyfield said plenty of boxers have checkered pasts -- and plenty fight despite injuries.
“These are things that happen to fighters all the time,” he said. “With Pacquiao -- I’m a fighter. I never fought in a fight when everything was well. ... One of my most difficult fights was with Mike Tyson. I fought him with a bad arm and beat him.”
Josh Romney said he’s glad his father is in the charity boxing ring instead of the 2016 ring.
“Evander Holyfield -- that’s one night. I can last one night. But getting punched for the next two years every night by The New York Times is not exactly ideal,” he said.
And Holyfield said he’s glad Romney is coming to his turf, not the other way around.
“It’s just like me being in politics -- I wouldn’t have no match. I’m at his mercy.”
Also on the podcast, we checked in with ESPN SportsCenter and boxing anchor Robert Flores, on what boxing has to do to raise its public profile -- and avoid harsh scrutiny going forward.
“Capital Games with Andy Katz and Rick Klein” is an ESPN/ABC podcast that explores the intersection of sports and politics, through interviews and analysis. It can be downloaded free via podcast apps, or on the ESPN Website.