By Mark Vester
At Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland, Evander Holyfield (42-10, 27KOs) was robbed of a historic win by losing a twelve-round majority-decision to seven-foot WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev (50-1, 34KOs). Holyfield, 5-4 since 2002, 46-years-old, and a 10-1 underdog in some betting circles, controlled the fight and won almost every round. The crowd showered the ring with boos when the scores were announced. The cards were 114-114 even, 116-112, 115-114
A packed crowd of thousands were fully behind Holyfield and cheered every punch that he landed. Valuev basically gave away the rounds on a silver platter with a non-existent performance. He barely threw any punches, was breathing hard from the second round on and was never in the fight. Holyfield barely any punches himself, but he did more than Valuev.
Holyfield danced around Valuev and came inside to throw combinations in spurts without any counters coming his way. Valuev tried to pick up the pace in the later rounds, but not enough to change the pace of the fight or to make Holyfield work. Valuev was open to the Holyfield's right hand, over and over.
Valuev appeared to be out of shape and his performance was a disgrace for a heavyweight champion. Holyfield was coming off a 14-month layoff and was dominated by Sultan Ibragimov in his last ring outing. Crowds of media members and figures in the sport were critical of this fight and protested the Valuev-Holyfield bout. Many were afraid the much bigger Valuev might damage Holyfield beyond repair. Instead, it was Valuev who looked like an old man in the ring.
Valuev will have to fight WBA "champion in recess" Ruslan Chagaev (24-0-1, 17 KOs) by the end of June. Chagaev must win his next bout on February 7 against Carl Davis Drumond (26-0, 20 KOs) at the Stadthalle in Rostock, Germany.