1990-10-25 Evander Holyfield w co 3 James Buster Douglas, Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - IBF/WBA/WBC

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1990-10-25 Evander Holyfield w co 3 James Buster Douglas, Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - IBF/WBA/WBC. Referee: Mills Lane. It was soon clear that Douglas (246) had failed to prepare himself properly as he came to the ring in poor condition for a champion and barely landed on Holyfield (208) during the seven minutes and ten seconds of action. Although sprightly enough, Douglas was nearly always out of distance with the jab while Holyfield made his punches count and in the third round, having moved away from an uppercut, he slammed in a short right-hand counter that put the champion down and out. To most onlookers it appeared that Douglas could have beaten the count but was taking the money, while Ferdie Pacheco, who was doing the inter-round analysis for TV, felt that the former champion had the personality traits of a loser.

When it was announced at the beginning of November that Holyfield’s first defence would be against George Foreman, the WBC threatened to strip Holyfield and bill the forthcoming Mike Tyson versus Donovan Ruddock fight for the vacant title. First an injunction stopped that from happening and then the Supreme Court, who stated that Holyfield was the champion and his contest against Foreman was a legitimate world title bout. Ultimately, Tyson beat Ruddock (w rsc 7 at the Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada on 18 March 1991) in what would be recognised as a WBC eliminating contest only and Holyfield versus Foreman would go ahead supported by the IBF and WBA.

Having returned to the ring in 1987 after a ten-year absence, George Foreman had won all 24 fights, 23 of them inside the distance, and even at the age of 43 had a puncher's chance. Foreman had beaten Dwight Muhammad Qawi, J. B. Williamson, Bert Cooper, Gerry Cooney and Adilson Rodrigues inside the distance, along with 18 other opponents, and only Everett Martin had reached the final bell. It was an incredible story and the now far more amiable former champion planned to make the best of it.