The political world got a rare treat Friday night, courtesy of the last man to accept the GOP presidential nomination. Stepping into the boxing ring against four-time World Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield (albeit a Holyfield about ten years past due), former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney traded blows in one of the strangest celebrity boxing matches you'll ever see. And frankly, you have to forgive both men that — Romney vs. Holyfield was awful boxing, but great charity.
Obviously, everyone probably knew what they were in for with this not-quite clash of the titans, even before the opening round bell. Holyfield, even at 52, is still an imposing presence in the ring, especially as compared to the 68-year-old non-boxer Romney. The imbalance between their physical builds — Holyfield reportedly ran six-foot-one, 235 pounds in their pre-fight weigh-in, compared to Romney at a slender six-foot-two and 179 pounds — virtually assured that, as a friendly bout, there wouldn't be a lot of big-time hits on display.
And that's exactly how it ended up playing out — two men cautiously prodding at each other, circling around the ring. Suffice to say, if you watched this fight expecting to be thrilled as a boxing fan, you were probably bitterly disappointed. But everyone else should feel good, because this boxing match was obviously not really about sweat or grind, but about raising money for a good cause — the event was estimated to bring in one million dollars for Charity Vision.
The match ended with Romney swinging a slightly clumsy hook towards Holyfield's bowed head, at which point Holyfield spilled to the mat. He was back on his feet in short order, though, and perhaps sensing his luck had run out, Romney began comically jogging away from him before his wife Ann threw in the towel, ending the fight. Afterwards, Romney addressed the crowd, praising them for supporting Charity Vision, and recalling Holyfield's assessment of his fighting style.
This was great fun, you guys are terrific for being here and supporting Charity Vision, and the champ for coming all the way from Atlanta ... [Holyfield] said, ‘You know what? You float like a bee and sting like a butterfly.’
As NPR detailed in covering this epic bout, Charity Vision is a non-profit organization, for which Romney's son Josh serves is a volunteer vice president. Their primary mission is to provide corrective vision care — surgeries included — for people in underprivileged parts of the world.
In other words, it's a worthy and noble cause, and Romney deserves the utmost credit for hopping in the ring to raise some funds and some awareness — even as he took the chance to get in a few (surprisingly well-delivered) zingers against the Obama administration, and probably knew Holyfield wasn't going to tag him too badly. So, credit where credit's due: bravo, Mitt! Just be sure to focus on your footwork next time.
Image: CBS News