Romney vs. Holyfield: The Real Fight of the Century

Forget Pacquiao vs. Mayweather.

Mitt Romney prepares to fight, via YouTube

Mitt Romney prepares to fight, via YouTube

Weeks after the so called “Fight of the Century” between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fizzled into a forgettable bore, the boxing world has a second chance at putting on an actually entertaining show. That’s because tonight, five-time heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield takes on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Sure, the match is in Utah, not Las Vegas. Viewers can’t tune in on HBO; it’s for ticket-holders only. Rather than further enriching everyone associated with it, the event will raise money for Charity Vision. The event features a retired heavyweight and a politician with no boxing experience. So from a sporting perspective, this thing doesn’t quite have the elements of your traditional fight of the century.

But what it lacks in tradition, it makes up for in self-awareness. The Pacquiao-Mayweather bout was a comedy show, to be sure. Mayweather walked to the ring backed by a scowling Justin Bieber and the Burger King mascot (who always looks like he belongs in a D-list slasher film franchise.)  The problem is, Mayweather didn’t seem to notice how goofy all this looked. Add to that the fact that neither fighter seemed like much of a moral role model. And worst of all, the fight itself was a bore.

Holyfield and Romney, meanwhile, are clearly embracing the ridiculousness of a buildup to a big fight. Just look at the promo video the pair put out last week, in which Romney admits, “I don’t have much of a right hook, but when I get somebody’s ear, I can be pretty formidable.”

Romney’s pre-match strategy seems to consist of pleading for sympathy by acting as polite and, well, Romney-like as possible. “I will get in Evander’s face with compliments and good humor. I want to keep him very happy and very friendly,” he tells the New York Times. His entrance music, he suggests, is “I Will Survive.” Finally, watching Evander Holyfield attempt to box Mitt Romney without murdering him promises to make the match itself, if not satisfying, then at least strangely odd.

This era we live in is defined by many things, included among them, viral videos, marketing gimmicks, ironic self-awareness, and revivals of nostalgic brands embodied by aging stars (hello, Full House!) How then, could a boxing match between Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield be called anything other than the fight of the century?