"If the price of winning is to be a broken jaw, a smashed nose, a cracked skull, a disfigured face, you pay it if you want to be king of the heavyweights," Ali wrote. "If you want to wear the crown, you can play it careful only until you meet a man who will die before he lets you win."
Muhammad Ali went too many times to the half-dream room and is stuck there now forever. Holyfield said Ali would do it all again.
In the House of Pain on Friday, there were an unusual number of old men and fathers and sons, and they had pulled up chairs around the ring to see the past and future heavyweight champion of the world. His shirt read "God's Message to America," and Holyfield seemed inspired by the size of his congregation.
The first sparring partner was David Tua, a short, massive former Olympic bronze medalist with an explosive left hook that Holyfield had felt before. Holyfield was untouched that day. He stalked Tua all over the ring, and after two rounds, Tua left with a bloody nose and a cut beneath his eye. The gospel song floating through the air was No one else can touch my heart like you when Bring the Pain came charging across the canvas. He pushed the boss into the corner and had just begun pummeling him, when Holyfield ducked underneath, rose on the other side and unloaded his uppercuts, his hooks and the whole damn arsenal on the poor body of Bring the Pain.
"That's it, boss! I like that!" said Brooks. Bring the Pain was a poor Mike Tyson imitation, but the old men were chuckling to each other and shaking their heads, and Turner nudged a reporter and said, "Did you see that? And we got two weeks. Two weeks!"
Evander Holyfield stepped out of the ring, smiling. Brooks wiped off the fighter's sweat, the personal assistant fetched his robe, and fathers put their sons in his lap. Something had happened up there. Holyfield had shared his faith.