Sunday, August 13, 2000
Holyfield edges Ruiz in tightly contested bout
LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- Evander Holyfield made a little history
In a lackluster effort, Holyfield scored a controversial
unanimous decision over fringe contender John Ruiz and captured
the vacant WBA heavyweight title at the Paris Resort and Casino.
Holyfield (37-4-1) became the first heavyweight to regain the
championship a third time. But in an era of multiple titles,
nobody is taking the 37-year-old's latest reign seriously,
especially after Saturday's unimpressive victory.
"There is no doubt I won the fight," Holyfield said. "Everybody
fights me hard. The guy was awkward, he keeps his hands close
so I could hit him with a right hand. He fought a very
defensive fight, which keeps you from getting knocked out.
"I basically was in control of the fight, I was the aggressor in
there," said Ruiz, who fell to 36-4. "I was very surprised.
That is up to the judges when it comes into the 12th round.
Whatever they think they saw, whatever they saw, it's in their
eyes -- I don't know what they were seeing."
Ruiz came out like a man on a mission in the first 2 1/2 rounds
as he took the fight to the lethargic Holyfield. He applied
pressure with his straightforward style, working behind the jab
and an in-your-face ethic.
But late in the third round, Holyfield landed an overhand right
to the head over the jab of Ruiz, who was in trouble. But Ruiz
weathered the storm, holding onto Holyfield until the end of the
"I was caught, but I stayed on my feet," Ruiz said.
Sensing an early knockout, Holyfield came out fast in the fourth
and drove Ruiz to the ropes with a left-right combination. But
Ruiz regained his senses and changed strategy. He began to land
single rights to the head as he began to outhustle and outbox
Holyfield. After six rounds, Holyfield's corner was telling him
he had won just one round.
Holyfied fought with urgency in the seventh and pressed the
action while landing few punches. He continued to stalk Ruiz
and tried to seize control.
But Ruiz continued to dominate with quick darting lead rights to
Not known for his one-punch power, Holyfield stunned Ruiz with a
grazing left hook to the head a minute into the 10th round.
Ruiz slipped on the advertisement in the middle of the ring and
was visibly hurt. But a left hook below the belt by Holyfield
gave Ruiz time to regroup as the bout was stopped so he could
regain his senses.
"He hit me with a couple of shots below the belt," Ruiz said.
"(Referee) Richard Steele came before the fight, telling me
anything below the belt or head-butt or elbow, he was going to
take away points. I didn't see one point taken away. I guess
he came into my room and lied to my face, so he wasn't really
watching the fight."
In the final round, Holyfield land a left hook that bloodied
Ruiz's nose. The tiring Ruiz clutched and grabbed Holyfield,
who had little strength behind his punches. At the conclusion
of the fight, Ruiz's cornerman Norman Stone berated Steele about
his officiating and Holyfield's tactics.
Judges Duane Ford and Dave Morretti gave Holyfield the final
round and scored the bout, 114-113. But Venezuelan judge
Fernando Viso mysteriously had Holyfield ahead, 116-112.
"Like people say, it is like a robbery without a gun," Ruiz
said. "I got to keep going with my career. It's a setback.
"I will fight him tomorrow, the (next) day. I don't care where
I fight him, I will fight him in the streets. I won the fight,
and he knows it."
On the undercard, undefeated Beibis Mendoza of Colombia captured
the vacant WBA 108-pound light flyweight title when referee
Mitch Halpern disqualified Rosendo Alvarez of Nicaragua.
A former strawweight titleholder, Alvarez repeatedly was warned
by Halpern and had points deducted in the second and third
rounds. Early in the sixth, Halpern again warned Alvarez, later
taking matters into his own hands when he disqualified the
Nicaraguan after he landed a soft, lunging left hook below the
belt 62 seconds into the round.
"I took two points away and warned him five times, and then I
saw enough," Halpern said. "I gave him warning and felt it was
enough to disqualify him. You have to follow the rules and
At the time of the stoppage, Mendoza was ahead on two of the
three scorecards, 57-55. The third judge had the Colombian
winning by a wide margin, 59-54.
"The referee knew about the low blow," Mendoza said through an
interpreter. "I knew I was going to win a unanimous decision or
Mendoza, who represented Colombia at the 1996 Olympics in
Atlanta, improved to 26-0.
"He had his trunks high and I was hitting him in the stomach,"
Alvarez said through an interpreter. "I want a rematch. It was
a matter of time before the fight would have been over."