When glancing at the headline of the article in which heavyweight legend, former four-time heavyweight ruler Evander Holyfield, says he was “robbed” of a deserved win in a fight, I instantly thought of the December 2008 fight an aging “Real Deal” had with Russian giant Nikolay Valuev. That fight, which saw Valuev retain his WBA heavyweight belt, should have gone Evander’s way, in the opinion of plenty of people (me included).
But no, the fight Holyfield was talking about as “worse than a robbery” is the second fight he had with Lennox Lewis. Speaking with DJ Vlad, who has been conducting a series of interviews with 61-year-old Holyfield, the former cruiserweight and heavyweight king said Lewis “knows he didn’t beat me in that fight.”
As fans will recall, the first fight between Holyfield and Lewis wound up being scored a draw, causing shock and outrage as something like 99 percent of the people who watched the fight that took place in New York in March of 1999 had Lennox winning. The return took place in Las Vegas that November, and this time, Lewis won via unanimous decision in a much closer, far more competitive fight. Some people did score the return in Holyfield’s favor (British reporter Colin Hart, writing for The Sun, had Evander winning, if I’m not mistaken).
And now, so many years into retirement, Holyfield says that decision still bothers him.
“I know I beat him the second [fight]; it was worse than [a robbery] because the fact of the matter is that he [Lennox] knows he didn’t beat me in that fight,” Holyfield said, the video up on YouTube. “He says, ‘Well, you did not win the first one,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, they called it a draw.’ I didn’t win, and you didn’t win either, so they are just going to give it [the rematch] to you because you should have won the first time. It’s a whole other fight, and it was sad because he thinks that it’s alright, [even though] you know you didn’t win, if they would have called it a draw, then it would have been alright, then we would be even. They felt that you didn’t beat me enough to get a decision because I was the champion [in two organizations].”
I don’t know about you, but I might go back and have another look at Lewis-Holyfield II. It was a close fight, and Holyfield performed far better than he had done in the first fight. Lewis, expected by some to stop Holyfield in the rematch, may well have been, shall we say, compensated by the judges in the second fight because of what happened in the first fight, again, a fight that hardly anyone felt was anywhere near close.
Holyfield isn’t bitter about any of his other losses (and again, he sure as heck could be/should be bitter about that “loss” to Valuev), so it is perhaps surprising that the all-time great still holds a grudge regarding the decision loss he suffered in the Lewis return.