Roland Flores, Jim Wells County Correspondent

CORPUS CHRISTI - The world's only four-time heavyweight boxing champion, Evander Holyfield, was in South Texas on Thursday promoting his upcoming March 17 fight, one he hopes will help land him an unprecedented fifth title shot.

Holyfield (40-8-2), 44, was the center of attention at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi and the legend known as the "Real Deal" let it be known that he still has the drive, determination and the goods to win a record fifth championship belt.

He gets the chance to prove himself yet again when he fights Vincent Maddalone (27-3-0, 27 KOs) next month.

"There were people a while ago that said I couldn't do it anymore, that I couldn't box like I used to," Holyfield said about his critics. "I say I just had a bad fight coming off a third shoulder surgery.

"They (boxing commission) thought they were doing me a favor by trying to keep me out, but I'm here and I'm ready to go for that fifth championship."

Holyfield is no stranger to Corpus Christi and South Texas. The Atmore, Alabama native via Atlanta, Georgia last fought in Corpus Christi at the Memorial Coliseum 23 years ago in 1984 in only his 10th professional fight.

"It's great to be back here in Corpus Christi. It's a lot different since the last time I fought here," Holyfield. "To be honest, if it weren't for the type of facility such as the American Bank Center, this fight might not have been possible."

Long-time championship boxing promoter Lester Bedford echoed the former champs' words. Bedford is also no stranger to these parts having promoted many cards in Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley and Corpus Christi.

"This is such a great arena and Holyfield has expressed in the past his desire to fight in South Texas again," Bedford said. "If this building hadn't been built this might not be happening right now."

Holyfield feels he is just two more fights away from taking a shot at becoming a five-time heavyweight title holder. He currently is the only four-time champ.

"This is the next fight of about two more before I feel I'm ready to challenge for the championship. I'm in good health, I feel good and I'm preparing hard,"Holyfield said.

When asked who he might like to face for the belt, Holyfield had no particulars.

"It doesn't matter to me who I fight for the belt…when the time comes I'll fight who ever the camp is," Holyfield said.

Tickets for the boxing event go on sale Saturday, Feb. 17, at the American Bank Center box office and all Ticketmaster outlets, including online at www.ticketmaster.com, and by phone at 361-881-8499. For VIP ticket information call 817-296-4546 or by email at wlbedford@aol.com.