1988-04-09 Evander Holyfield w rsc 8 (12) Carlos De Leon, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - WORLD

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1988-04-09 Evander Holyfield w rsc 8 (12) Carlos De Leon, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - WORLD. Referee: Mills Lane. Prior to the fight, the WBC stipulated 195lbs as being the division’s limit, while the IBF and WBA agreed on 190lbs. However, with both men inside 190 lbs all three titles were at stake and, from then on, the poundage would be standardised.

The fight itself saw the WBC’s De Leon (188) spend much of the fight with his back to the ropes trying to counter the hard-hitting Holyfield (190), who complained afterwards that he was being butted when at close quarters. Several times De Leon was badly hurt, but he remained on his feet and occasionally troubled Holyfield with sneak punches until coming undone in the eighth. Having been cut over the left eye in the sixth, De Leon was still there in the eighth, but after Holyfield cut loose with both hands and he was left unable to defend himself the referee stopped the fight on the 1.08 mark.

Although the IBF recognised 15 rounds to be the world championship distance, they still supported Holyfield as the champion, but, at their annual summer convention, they announced that, from 1 September, all world title bouts held under their auspices would be contested over 12 rounds, thus bringing them into line with the other bodies.

There was such a paucity of talent around that when Holyfield relinquished the title in November 1988 in order to campaign as a heavyweight, the three major organisations were hard pressed to find a championship bout of any consequence, let alone be in a position to organise elimination tournaments. The situation was further complicated when the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) was formed in November after 27 of the 71 delegates had walked out of the WBA convention a month earlier in disgust at the way were being run in that organisation. However, after their number one contender, Anaclet Wamba, pulled out, the WBO matched Boone Pultz against Magne Havnaa to contest their version of the vacant title.

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