LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Evander Holyfield spent the week in Louisville to promote his new boxing event, The Real Deal Championship Boxing series.

On Wednesday, he showed up at Fourth Street Live! where some of the boxers were sparring ahead of Saturday's event at Freedom Hall. On Friday he took time to speak with the crew of WDRB in the morning. Holyfield says he aspired to be a championship boxer because he grew up watching Muhammad Ali.

The first installment of the Real Deal Championship Boxing series will be branded "Evander's Tribute to Ali," with the main bout a CBS Sports Spectacular Broadcast Event. It will air live on June 24 from 10 p.m. to midnight. 

The fight card will be part of the locally based “I Am Ali” Festival, a six-week celebration of the one-year anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s passing and his global impact and legacy.

Holyfield says growing up he heard a lot of people from his neighborhood telling him he wouldn't amount to anything. 

"But my coach told me I could be like Muhammad Ali," Holyfield said. "And I knew he was a champion. So at 8 years old you don't know what all comes with being a champion ... so I had to ask my mom, and my mom and she said I could."

Now the heavyweight champion has advice for others who want to follow in his footsteps. 

"Well, the big thing is listen, follow direction, and don't quit," Holyfield said. "Those three things are essential to anything you can do -- you can be successful if you do those things. My mama over and over told me the same thing. So I listened. Now hard times happen, but don't quit."

When asked which fight he most enjoyed, Holyfield replied: "I would say the [Mike] Tyson fight, because didn't nobody think I could do it. And I done it. So when you achieve things that people say it's impossible to do, it's good." 

When it comes to being intimidated by opponents, Holyfield says that hasn't happened in quite awhile. 

"Not since I was a kid," Holyfield said. "When I was 8 years old, I'd look at them kids that were 10 years old and say my oh my goodness, they're big! But when you go through the program properly then you learn it's about knowledge.

"And you can't tell how smart people are until they get in there. So my mama always told me you can't get beat by a reputation. 'Yeah, that guy beat those people but he didn't beat you.'"

Doors open for The Real Deal Championship Boxing series at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 24, 2017. The undercard for the June 24 event will be made up of three amateur and eight professional bouts, including local boxers. Click here to buy tickets to the event.

Part of the proceeds from the event will be donated to Louisville TKO and the Muhammad Ali Center to help support youth development activities in the Louisville area.


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