If Evander Holyfield beat John Ruiz Saturday night at the Paris Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas, it wasn't by much and many who saw the fight feel Ruiz should have got the close decision.
Personally, after the fight was over and before they announced the decision, I thought Ruiz probably won the fight but that the judges would give it to Holyfield.
That's because a lot of rounds were close and the judges figured to give Holyfield the benefit of the doubt in those rounds, just because of who Holyfield is and what he has accomplished in boxing.
This is not to say it was a bad decision. Holyfield needed to win round 12 to cinch the win, which he did. And on top of that, he knocked Ruiz down, even though inept Las Vegas referee Richard Steele called it a slip, so Holyfield should have probably won by more than the scores showed.
Anyway, Holyfield is now the WBA heavyweight champion, although no one other than the WBA and Holyfield thinks he is the real heavyweight champion of the world.
I do want to note a few things about the Don King promoted fight that was good if not exciting. First, a lot of "late money" came in on Holyfield and he went from a 3-1 (or less) favorite to a 9-2 favorite almost overnight. It appears like somebody knew something - read between the lines here - and Holyfield was in no danger of losing a decision.
The two Las Vegas judges had it even going into the last round but the WBA appointed judge from Venezuela had Holyfield far enough ahead that even if he had lost the last round, he still would have won on that judge's scorecard.
Also, Holyfield weighed the heaviest of his career at 221 pounds. His ideal fighting weight is around 215, give or take a pound. Those extra five or six pounds slowed Holyfield down, and as a result, he was sluggish and appeared tired at times.
After almost knocking Ruiz out in round three, Holyfield needed round four to recuperate instead of finishing Ruiz off. And even though Holyfield was the fresher fighter in round 12, it was only because he didn't go all out in some previous rounds, whereas the old Holyfield would have finished Ruiz off.
Nothing against Ruiz, either. He fought a good fight, tried as best his skills would let him and left nothing in the dressing room. He fought his heart out, but really wasn't in the same class as Holyfield. Even an old and worn-out Holyfield, who spotted Ruiz nine years in age (37 to 28) and three pounds, but nothing in experience.
Holyfield is a good bet in title fights - he's 16-3-1 - and in this, his 20th title fight, he did what he had to do to get the win and that's the bottom line. Holyfield won and got the belt and Ruiz lost and nothing will change that!
I also want to note that the Nevada State Athletic Commission took something I suggested in a column last year and for the first time ever, allowed the fighters to wear different color gloves. Ruiz wore black gloves and black trunks and Holyfield wore white gloves and bright red trunks.
The fight was aired on Showtime and they also aired the WBA light flyweight (108-pound limit) fight between Beibis Mendoza (27-0, 24 KOs) and Rosendo Alvarez (27-2-1, 17 KOs) first.
This fight replaced the James Page WBA welterweight title fight against Andrew Lewis when Page pulled out at the last minute over what the TV announcers called a "purse dispute" (read between the lines here too) with promoter King.
The replacement fight was an odd one as Alvarez, from Managua, Nicaragua, continually hit Mendoza, who is from Cartagena, Columbia, with low blows. After repeated warnings and two one-point deductions by referee Mitch Halpern, Alvarez was disqualified by Halpern at the 1:02 mark of round seven of the foul-filled fight.
-- Not only did an over-the-hill Holyfield fight over the weekend, so did a couple of other fighters who are well past their prime. Friday night at the Paris, former WBC heavyweight champ Oliver McCall fought someone named Sedrick Fields. McCall, at a fat 248-pounds, lumbered to a split 10-round decision win over the unknown Fields.
Maybe a McCall fight against Holyfield is in the cards. Both have seen better days and this might be a good match but I doubt it will happen.
And on Saturday night in Yakima, Wash., way over-the-hill Roberto Duran (104-15) won by decision over P.J. Goosen (19-3) in the main event.
- Sunday's card at the Peppermill in Reno saw Jorge Lacierva successfully defend his minor IBA bantamweight (118-limit) title against David Vazquez by easy unanimous decision in an OK kind of fight that was shown live worldwide on Univision.
Yerington's Jesse Brinkley (11-1) won a six-round decision over Mexico's Juan Barreto (15-19-3) and Reno's Miguel Angel Ruiz (21-9-2) lost a six-round decision to Alejandro Jiminez (7-13-2). Reno's Alfonso Morales won a four-round decision over Richard Pasillas and Jose Celaya won by decision over Edgar Pedraza in another prelim fight.
Completing the card, Nina Gonzales won her fight against Trena Drotar by decision.
Alan Rogers is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.