On This Day In 1999: The Infamous Lewis-Holyfield Draw

By James Slater - 03/13/2022 - Comments

With certain scoring officials and certain official decisions being scrutinized just recently, it’s perhaps somewhat ironic that today marks the anniversary of perhaps THE most controversial boxing decision of modern times. It was of course this day in 1999 when heavyweight rivals Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield fought their undisputed title fight showdown in New York.

The decision that was announced after 12 largely dominant rounds from an in-form Lewis shocked the world. Though no one at ringside, no one watching on TV, no one in the cheap seats saw anything other than a clear win for Lewis, the decision was somehow that of a draw. The sense of shock was followed by a sense of outrage.

Don King, promoter of Holyfield, had many fingers pointed his way, as did a certain Eugenia Williams, the female judge who managed to score the fight in Holyfield’s favor at 115-113. British judge Larry O’Connell was also heavily criticized for his all-even score of 115-115. Only Stanley Christodoulou’s eyes were working that night, as he had it 116-113 for Lennox (and even this was too close in the opinion of many – most fans and pundits struggling to give Holyfield more than three rounds).

So, all these years later, was this one really the worst decision ever? Is Lewis D12 Holyfield still the worst we’ve ever seen? There have been some unfathomable decisions handed in over the years – the Pernell Whitaker-Julio Cesar Chavez draw easily springs to mind – and just over two weeks ago, the split decision win 140-pound champ Josh Taylor was awarded after his incredibly tough night with Jack Catterall showed us all the problem has not gone away.

Lewis of course got justice by way of a return fight with Holyfield, with Lennox this time getting his hands raised the way it should have been on the night of March 13, 1999. Jack Catterall will not be so lucky, unfortunately.

No one is saying the job of judging a boxing match is an easy task, but all these years later, and fans still shake their heads when they think about the Lewis-Holyfield draw. That decision really did stink to high heaven.

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What do YOU think – has there ever been a more criminal-looking decision in a big world title fight?