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Real Deal real lucky
Lewis dominates Holyfield in 12, but judges rule title bout a draw
Posted: Monday March 15, 1999 11:04 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- It turned out Evander Holyfield wasn't telling the truth, but the 36-year-old IBF-WBA heavyweight champion escaped with a loudly booed draw against Lennox Lewis in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Holyfield said Lewis would be knocked out in the third round and that it wasn't a prediction but the truth.
Holyfield, however, never came close to knocking Lewis down, let alone out, as the 33-year-old Briton seemed to dominate the 12-round bout for the undisputed heavyweight championship
According to a punch count, Lewis landed 348 of 613 punches for a connection rate of 57 percent. Holyfield connected on 130 of 385 punches, or 34 percent.
Lewis landed more jabs than Holyfield did punches. Yet, one judge favored Holyfield and another called it a draw.
The official judges' scoring was: Larry O'Conner of Britain, 115-115, Larry Christodoulou of South Africa favored Lewis 116-113, and Jean Williams of the United States had it 115-113 for Holyfield.
The AP card favored Lewis 117-111.
When the decision was announced, it was roundly booed by the sellout crowd of 21,284, which paid a gate of more than $11 million.
Lewis was bidding to become the first Brit to win the undisputed heavyweight championship in this century. Of the 12 previous British challengers who had failed only two had gone the distance.
Much had been made of Holyfield's prediction that Lewis would fall in the third round and, while Holyfield appeared to have the best of that round when he landed several hard rights to the head, Lewis was never in danger of going down.
"He controlled the fight. It wasn't even close," said Emanuel Steward, who trains Lewis and used to train Holyfield. "This is what is killing boxing."
Not only was the scoring roundly booed, but Lewis had to win the last round on O'Conner's card just to get a draw.
Lewis seemed to control the action with left jabs and numerous right-hand leads to the head while the 6-21/2 Holyfield had trouble getting inside the 6-5 Lewis' reach. Swelling started around Holyfield's left eye early in the fight and Lewis seemed to have the best of the middle rounds.
Lewis, 246, rattled Holyfield, 215, on several occasions but never came close to putting him down. As the fight drew to a close, Lewis raised his hands in triumph and 7,000 British fans gave him a rousing cheer.
Those cheers became a chorus of boos that rained down on the Garden ring.
One person who did not agree with the decision was TVKO fight analyst Larry Merchant, who gave Lewis nine of the 12 rounds.
While the decision was roundly booed, there were no disturbances in the arena.
The 33 year-old Lewis appeared to be just too big for Holyfield, who never dominated the action as he had in twice beating Mike Tyson.
"It's real simple. People around the ring are not the judges. Things happen sometimes like that," Holyfield said. "That's the way it goes. I feel like the heavyweight champion of the world.
"The whole thing is, I'm not the judges. I was fighting. I haven't had a chance to view the fight."
Lewis' size seemed to be too much for Holyfield. Every time the American tried to get inside, he was hit or tied up. In each of six rounds, Holyfield was credited with landing fewer than 10 punches.
Yet O'Conner, who scored it a draw, gave Holyfield five of the last seven rounds and called another even.
It was an interesting fight although it certainly didn't carry the drama or action that occurred in this building on March 6, 1971. That was The Fight between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, in which Frazier knocked down Ali in the 15th round and won a unanimous decision to prove he was the undisputed heavyweight champion.
"I felt I won the fight," Lewis said. "It was my time to shine and they ripped me off. I'm the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and the whole world knows it. He should give me those two belts because he knows they're mine."
Holyfield earned $20 million for the first draw on his record but, in the eyes of may ringsiders, it was one of the most important decisions of his career because it kept him a champion. He is now 36-3-1 with 25 knockouts.The bitterly disappointed Lewis, who earned $10 million, now is 34-1-1.
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