Holyfield now lean, green

ATLANTA -- Evander Holyfield has no intention of hanging up his gloves. In fact, he'll have a new nickname the next time he climbs into the ring.

The Real Deal is now the Lean Green Fighting Machine.

Refusing to give up on his goal of retiring as heavyweight champion even as he approaches his 47th birthday, Holyfield said he'll travel to South Korea in November for his next bout -- he's not even sure of the opponent -- and bring along a message of preserving the environment.

Boxing, it seems, has another odd partnership.

"I guess I'm lean and green," Holyfield said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I'm pretty much going to do all I can to fight against global warming. I'll see what I can do to help and try to help other people who want to do the same thing."

He plans a formal announcement Friday about his environmental partnership, which includes building a 40-acre solar energy farm on his suburban Atlanta estate and turning another acre into an organic garden that can be used by neighborhood youths.

Why the environment, champ?

"A mission as big as this needs someone who is recognized through the whole world," Holyfield said. "We as a people have to come together to save this planet."

The four-time heavyweight champion seems to have resolved some of his money woes, which were on public display when his sprawling home twice faced foreclosure notices. He recently began appearing in a new Taco Bell advertising campaign and now he's partnering with Global NES-Georgia to build the solar farm on his property.

"My finances are great now," Holyfield insisted. "When you bless somebody else, then you get blessed too."

The boxing side of things is more unsettled. He lost his last two bouts, both in bids to claim shares of the fractured heavyweight title, and many thought last December's disputed majority-decision defeat to towering Russian Nikolai Valuev would mark the end of his quest.

Not so, said Holyfield.

"I will be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world," he said, repeating a familiar pledge. "I'm sure I will be champion next year sometime."

Holyfield said there are plans in the works for a Nov. 8 bout in South Korea though he was sketchy about further details, including one that's fairly important -- his opponent.

"Well, I don't even know," he said. "A lot of times they don't give me the opponent. I don't know who this opponent will be. But I'm sure I'll be able to make some adjustments when necessary."

Holyfield will turn 47 next month, and plenty of close advisers and outside observers have called on him to retire from boxing before he gets seriously injured by a younger, quicker opponent. Plus, his legacy as boxing's only four-time heavyweight champion, the undersized warrior who beat everyone from Mike Tyson to Riddick Bowe to George Foreman, has certainly taken a beating since Holyfield last captured a heavyweight belt in 2000.

He's won just five of his last 12 fights, a stretch that includes four futile attempts to regain at least some portion of the championship.

"All my life, I've had doubters," Holyfield said. "I don't start something I can't finish. ... Eventually, I will be heavyweight champ of the world. Then, what are they going to say?"

He's encouraged by his performance against Valuev, the tallest (7-foot-2) champion in boxing history. The two judges gave Valuev a narrow victory, while the referee scored it a draw. Many at ringside felt Holyfield deserved the decision and WBA belt.

"He had the reach and the strength and the size, all that. And I still hit him more times than he hit me. How did I not win?" Holyfield asked. "I've got to fight a little harder next time. I fought hard and thought I fought hard enough to win, but obviously (the judges) didn't.

"I probably wasn't old enough," he jokingly added. "This time, I'll be a little older."