A classic it wasn’t!
It wasn’t a great fight by any means. Then again, it wasn’t a fight that gave boxing a black eye – and that is a plus these days.
Not only did Lennox Lewis clearly win the heavyweight unification title fight Saturday night in Las Vegas, he made it clear he can beat an aging Evander Holyfield no matter how many times they fight.
And since the judges got it right this time by awarding a unanimous decision win for Lewis, there is no possibility the two will fight again.
That’s the good news. The bad news is we now have a world heavyweight champion who doesn’t like to mix it up much, is very cautious in the ring and his take-no-chances style of fighting is not appreciated by the fans.
Other than round 7, when both fighters went at each other, the rest of the fight was only mildly entertaining and the upwards of 19,000 fans at the Thomas & Mack Center booed and chanted for more action throughout much of the bout. Just another Don King clunker!
Even Emanuel Steward, Lewis’ trainer, said afterward his fighter didn’t show “all his skills.” Steward, who runs the famous Kronk Gym in Detroit, wasn’t very pleased with the way his fighter fought and said so on a live interview on the pay-per-view telecast afterward.
Holyfield thought he won. But heck, he thought he won their first fight, too, so we’ll discount that completely.
What next? For Holyfield, who turns 37 on Friday, retirement would be nice. He’s fought his wars, won the heavyweight title three times, showed one-and-all he is a warrior with a rock solid chin and while there are still many heavyweights out there – including Mike Tyson – who Holyfield can still beat, retirement would be the smart move to make, in my opinion. Don’t be surprised when the retirement announcement comes, and let’s hope he retires and stays retired while he still has all his facilities.
As for Lewis, he’s in a tough spot. I doubt many would pay to see him fight anyone again. He is methodical … boring … not much fun to watch … and his fights usually stink! He’s a hard-sell now and even though he is the undisputed champ, that title alone won’t make him a public or fan favorite.
It looks like Lewis may defend next against the WBA No. 1 contender, Henry Akinwande over in England, where both boxers are from. That fight would sell over there, but not here.
Don’t forget, they fought once before at Lake Tahoe. Akinwande trained for that fight in Carson City and lost when referee Mills Lane disqualified him for excessive holding, even though Lewis did his fair share of holding in a fight that wasn’t worth seeing.
Should Mike Tyson reel off a few wins, maybe then a Lewis-Tyson fight could be made. But with all the disgust surrounding Tyson and the lackluster performances Lewis puts on, even that fight may not sell on PPV.
The heavyweight division is weak right now and the prospects for the future regarding title fights is not very bright. Maybe someone will pop up and take center stage, but as for now, not much will happen and boxing will lose more fans.
– The PPV telecast opened with a build-your-record type of fight. Heavyweight Josue Blocus from France, with an 9-0, 9-KO record, was fed Clarence Goins. Goins, with a reported 4-4-1, 2-KO record, Goins was down three times in round one and gone a little over two minutes into the mismatch.
Then came the WBA junior welterweight title fight between champ Sharmba Mitchell and challenger Elio Ortiz. Mitchell (46-2, 29 KOs) had Ortiz down in the first 10 seconds of the fight, then let up a bit and coasted to an easy unanimous decision win in another forgettable fight. Ortiz is now 18-4 with 14 KOs.
Next up was a cruiserweight title fight between champ Fabrice Tiozzo (40-1, 26 KOs) and Ken Murphy (21-2-1, 15 KOs). Fabrice won every round until it was mercifully stopped after round 7 with Murphy hopelessly beaten and outclassed. Another Don King clunker of an undercard. Not much of a card, if you ask me.
KENNY WINS – Former Carson City resident Kenny Keene won his final fight Friday night in Boise, Idaho. Keene, who is from Idaho, announced before the bout it would be his “retirement fight” and after he won a 12-round decision over Rob Calloway to retain his IBA cruiserweight title, he retired with a career 47-3, 26-KO record. He will retire as a champion.
– Friday night on the ESPN2 live fight telecast from the Orleans Hotel/Casino in Vegas, Tracy Harris Patterson, the adopted son of former heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson, proved he’s through as a top-class fighter when he lost every round to Junior Jones in their 10-round featherweight main event fight. The amazing part of this fight was the scoring. While one judge gave every round to Jones and one judge scored seven rounds for Jones, the third judge had it even and a draw. That judge should be barred from ever scoring another fight in Nevada. We all know that won’t happen …. but it should!
– A couple of good action fights from The Rose Garden in Portland Sunday night on FOX Sports. Former heavyweight champ Greg Page – he trained at the old CCPAL boxing gym in Carson City in 1994 – fought Jorge Luis Gonzalez. Page, who the night before was in Vegas as the trainer and cornerman for Ken Murphy’s fight, lost a 10-round decision. Page, reportedly 41-years-old but actually a few years older, weighed a hefty 252 pounds (he was 223 when he won the title) and tried, but just didn’t have it. His record fell to 56-15-1 with 46 KOs. Gonzalez, no ball of fire himself, improved to 30-5, 27 KOs.
The main event on that card saw former three-time world champ John John Molina win by decision over Manuel Garnica in a good junior welterweight fight. Molina is now 49-6 with 32 KOs and Garnica is 19-4 with 11 KOs.
Alan Rogers is the Nevada Appeal boxing writer.