Lennox Lewis vs. Evander Holyfield (1st meeting)

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Jabs Lewis Holyfield
Landed 187 52
Thrown 364 171
Percent 51% 30%
Power Punches Lewis Holyfield
Landed 161 78
Thrown 249 214
Percent 65% 36%
Total Punches Lewis Holyfield
Landed 348 130
Thrown 613 385
Percent 57% 34%

Lennox Lewis 245 lbs drew with Evander Holyfield 215 lbs by SD in round 12 of 12


Lewis-Holyfield I-BX002628.jpg
Lewis-Holyfield I-BX002625.jpg
  • Holyfield claimed that he was "anointed to win." He said, "I have confidence in the word of God. I'm not predicting, I'm telling you: I will knock him out in the third round."
  • Holyfield's purse was $20 million, and Lewis' was $10 million.
  • Holyfield was a slight betting favorite.
  • A sellout crowd of 21,284 at Madison Square Garden produced a gate of $13.5 million.
  • The fight was televised live on pay-per-view by TVKO, HBO's pay-per-view company. The bout generated 1.2 million buys.
  • The decision was loudly booed.
  • Timothy W. Smith reported the following in the March 14, 1999, edition of the New York Times:
For the first 2 minutes of the first round, Holyfield didn't land a punch as Lewis kept him at bay with a pawing jab. Late in the round Holyfield landed a left on Lewis's cheek. And at the conclusion of the round, Holyfield, pushed down low by Lewis, grabbed Lewis by both his legs and came up with him and almost spilled Lewis over on his back. Holyfield, who landed just 8 of 24 punches in the first two rounds, came alive in the third -- the round he had predicted he would knock Lewis out in -- He landed a left hook, a right and another left during one flurry and a big right hand in another barrage. But he missed on a looping right hand that would have spelled trouble if it landed. Lewis had survived the round and the fight was on. In the fifth round, Lewis landed a big right hand on the top of Holyfield's head as he was spinning away and then he pinned Holyfield on the ropes and caught him with some big uppercuts. Holyfield lay on the ropes for 45 seconds without throwing a punch and it appeared that he wasn't hurt too badly but was trying to lure Lewis into a trap. A small cut was opened on the bridge of Lewis's nose in the fifth round. Near the end of the sixth round, Lewis popped three stiff jabs in Holyfield's face. They were his snappiest jabs of the fight to that point. At the beginning of the seventh round, the fighters went down to the canvas in a grappling heap. And when they got up, Lewis sneaked in a sharp right hand that stung Holyfield. Lewis's jab was beginning to show telltale signs on Holyfield's swollen left eye by the seventh round. Midway through the 12th and final round, a chant of "Lewis! Lewis!" went up from the crowd. As he clutched with Holyfield in the waning seconds, Lewis raised his right hand triumphantly. And the O'Jay's song "Gotta Give the People What They Want" began blaring. On this ignominious night, no one got what they wanted, least of all Lennox Lewis.
  • The Sunday Mirror, in a front-page headline on March 21, 1999, suggested that judge Eugenia Williams had received thousands of dollars to score in favor of Holyfield. She filed a libel suit, and a British trial court awarded her "substantial damages" from the Mirror Group Newspapers. The exact sum was not disclosed. The newspaper group also apologized to Williams and was ordered to pay her court costs.


Lewis-Holyfield I-BX002619.jpg
  • Lennox Lewis: "I felt I won the fight. It was my time to shine, and they ripped me off. I'm the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, and the whole world knows it. He [Holyfield] should give me those two belts because he knows they're mine."
  • Evander Holyfield: "I feel like the champ. I can't fight and score. People around the ring are not the judges."
  • Emanuel Steward, Lewis' trainer: "He [Lewis] controlled the fight. It wasn't even close. This is what is killing boxing."
  • Seth Abraham, president of HBO Sports: "It's disappointing. It was such a wonderful promotion and to end like this. . . ."
  • Jim Lampley, HBO commentator: "Lennox Lewis has just been robbed of the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. He won it, and he didn't get it.
  • Steve Farhood, Showtime boxing analyst: "I've been covering boxing twenty years. I would put this in the top five for the worst decisions I've seen."
  • Frank Bruno, former WBC heavyweight champion: "The judges verdict was the most disgusting decision I've ever seen in boxing."
  • Larry O'Connell, one of the three official judges, who scored the fight 115-115: "I feel sorry for myself. I've taken so much stick. But I feel even more sorry for Lennox."
  • Rudolph Giuliani, New York City Mayor: "I am embarrassed as a New Yorker. I know boxing as well as I know being mayor. There’s no way that Holyfield won the fight. This is a travesty what happened."

External Links

Preceded by:
Lewis vs. Mavrovi?
WBC Heavyweight Title Fight
# 80
Succeeded by:
Lewis vs. Holyfield II
Preceded by:
Holyfield vs. Bean
WBA Heavyweight Title Fight
# 71
Succeeded by:
Lewis vs. Holyfield II
Preceded by:
Holyfield vs. Bean
IBF Heavyweight Title Fight
# 32
Succeeded by:
Lewis vs. Holyfield II