This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Midway through the second round of the much ballyhooed "Fight for Sight" of the century, former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield went down, to the stunned gasps of the capacity crowd, from a mighty Mitt Romney blow to the well, to the elbow, it appeared.
After standing in a taunting fashion for about two seconds while Holyfield rose to his feet, Romney then ran as Holyfield chased him around the ring.
That was the end of the fight as Romney and his enthusiastic trainer, former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, threw in the proverbial towel.
Romney and Holyfield then embraced as the crowd cheered.
Then Romney the former head of the 2002 Winter Olympics, former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 Republican candidate for president of the United States took the microphone and showed off his true talent.
He is a standup comic.
He deadpanned that his opponent might not have been as tough as Harry Reid's workout equipment and that he was hoping the fight would be fought under the Marquess of Queensberry rules, "so it would be as clean as Hillary Clinton's server."
He also said he was glad the referee of the fight was not Candy Crowley and that he worried Holyfield might beat his brains out: "then I would become a Democrat."
The crowd of several hundred crammed into the Rail Event Center on Friday night was treated to about 2 1/2 hours of preliminary fights real professional bouts sanctioned by the World Boxing Council and a live auction that sold, among other things, tickets to the next Super Bowl and to "Dancing With the Stars."
Romney entered the ring first, to the apt tune "I Will Survive," by Gloria Gaynor. He danced around the ring in a red silk robe that, when removed, revealed a business suit.
Leavitt then helped Romney undress down to his boxing trunks as Holyfield, the only five-time world heavyweight boxing champ in history, entered the ring with less fanfare.
When the bell rang for the opening round, the two fighters then engaged in what can be best described as a game of pat-a-cake. Neither fighter aimed any punches at his opponent's face. Holyfield probably didn't want to hurt Romney, and Romney probably didn't want to make Holyfield mad. But the crowd seemed to love it.
The event, to raise money for the group CharityVision, had a 1920s theme. Guests were treated to big band-era music when they first entered the arena, and flapper girls held ring cards up high to designate the next round in each fight. It was a black-tie affair and the refreshments were heavy hors d'oeuvres.
Many of the guests got into the spirit, dressed in period attire, with feathers, flared skirts and some furs.
Rather than just selling open tickets, the event featured corporate sponsorships of between $25,000 and $250,000, with the corporations then inviting clients and guests to the event.
That in itself raised close to $1 million for the charity, which provides cataract surgeries and other eye-care procedures in developing nations around the world. Just $25 will pay for a cataract surgery for a person who would lose his or her sight without it, said Josh Romney, Mitt Romney's son and president of CharityVision. He said that with the proceeds from Friday's event, the charity hopes to provide 40,000 eye surgeries this year, all performed by local doctors in the countries being served.
The fight was his father's idea, Josh Romney said, adding that his dad, after a long political career, was tired of the traditional banquet-and-speaker fundraiser.
Someone got the idea of contacting Holyfield and, said Josh Romney, "I knew a guy who had his cellphone number. I called it and Evander answered it himself."
Romney, after the "fight," told the crowd what a great guy and a "Christian" his opponent was.
"He doesn't smoke. He doesn't drink, but I won't try and make him a Mormon because he's busy with his own religion."
The event was attended by Gov. Gary Herbert, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, U.S. Reps. Chris Stewart and Mia Love and Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, who himself is a boxing promoter and manager.
As an added touch, the referee for the Romney-Holyfield fight had the magical last name in Utah boxing circles of Fullmer.
The Romney-Holyfield contest came after three "real" real fights a heavyweight and two middleweight bouts.
After the marquee event, many guests left, but there was one more fight: a title belt for the World Boxing Council's U.S. National Championship in the lightweight division.
In that bout, Rashad Ganaway defeated Leon Spinks III for the title.
But after everything else, that was an afterthought.