Evander Holyfield survives almighty scare to defeat an inspired ‘Smokin’ Bert Cooper


Evander Holyfield
Sub for a sub Bert Cooper drags Evander Holyfield into the trenches

November 23, 1991; The Omni, Atlanta, GA
HOLYFIELD was originally set to defend his world heavyweight championship against Mike Tyson on November 8, 1991 before the former king pulled out with an injury.Sub Francesco Damiani then withdrew with an ankle problem. So in came “Smokin” Bert Cooper at short notice. A massacre was anticipated. HBO twice reminded viewers that it had been six years since Holyfield’s last first round victory before Cooper, right on cue, went down in a heap in the opening minutes. But on this night, Bert was made of stern stuff and famously had Holyfield in deep trouble in the third when the ropes broke the champion’s fall and he was given a count. By the seventh, after a stirring effort, Cooper was rescued.

DID YOU KNOW? When Holyfield heard that Dan Duva and Shelly Finkel had left messages for him to call them back urgently on October 18, 1991 he feared something had happened to Lou Duva, his manager and co-trainer. When Holyfield got through, he was told the fight with Tyson was off.

WATCH OUT FOR: The third round is a beauty.

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