There will be a decided left-handed slant on things when undefeated Michael Moorer challenges Evander Holyfield for his International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association heavyweight titles April 22 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
No left-handed fighter has ever reigned as heavyweight king. Las Vegas oddsmakers have established Holyfield as an early 2-1 favorite.
It has been 18 years since a left-handed fighter, England's Richard Dunn, challenged then-champion Muhammad Ali. Dunn lasted only five rounds. In 1966, Ali also stopped German left-hander Karl Mildenberger in the 12th round.
Holyfield, who regained two-thirds of the heavyweight crown last November by winning a stirring 12-round bout with Riddick Bowe, recalled having fought only one left-handed boxer early in his professional career.
"I fought a guy named Jesse Shelby in 1986 and stopped him in three rounds," Holyfield said. "I remember him being quite awkward, and we kept butting heads."
But Moorer (31-0, 28 KOs), like Holyfield, is an aggressive fighter and vows he will carry the fight to the champion.
"I don't think my being left-handed will bother Evander," said Moorer. "With all his ring attributes, he should be able to deal with it. But it's going to be a war, and I'll do whatever it takes to win."
Moorer, 26, considered a moody, headstrong fighter, was first trained and managed by Emanuel Steward at Detroit's famous Kronk Gym. After winning the World Boxing Organization
light-heavyweight and heavyweight titles, he severed his ties withSteward in the spring of 1992.
Moorer then teamed up with George Benton, who also trains junior-welterweight champion Pernell Whitaker, but that lasted for only one fight. He now is being trained by Teddy Atlas, who was one of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson's first ring tutors.
Atlas contends Moorer is "in Tyson's class" as a puncher. "He gets a lot of leverage with his uppercut."
After watching Moorer win a lackluster 10-round decision over Mike Evans in his last fight, Atlas said he is trying to make him more aggressive.
"Benton definitely helped improve his defense, now we're trying to incorporate that into his offense," said Atlas.
"Michael has to utilize his jab when Holyfield elects to box, and get a free shot when Holyfield jumps to the attack."
Promoter Dan Duva, of Main Events, Inc., estimated Holyfield would earn between $12 and $15 million and Moorer $5 million from the live gate and TVKO pay per view receipts. Tickets at Caesars Palace will be priced from $100 to $700.
NOTES: Now that Julio Cesar Chavez has lost his welterweight title to Frankie Randall, Duva ruled out a possible rematch with Whitaker, with whom the Mexican fought a controversial draw last year. "In fighting Randall," said Duva, "[promoter] Don King talked Chavez into making one-fifth of what he would have made to fight Whitaker again."