Evander Holyfield vs. Hasim Rahman

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Evander Holyfield 216 lbs beat Hasim Rahman 224 lbs by TD in round 8 of 12

After Fight Is Stopped, the Winner Is Holyfield
By Mike Freeman, the New York Times, June 2, 2002

ATLANTIC CITY, June 1— It must get tiring to hear that you are over the hill, that one day your beaten body will be carted out of the ring like a slab of beef. It must get annoying to constantly read and hear to get out, get out now, before the brain in your head starts doing back flips.

Evander Holyfield hears all these things, smiles, praises the Lord and at the ripe age of 39, which in boxing puts him in dinosaur territory, fights on. And what Holyfield did tonight against Hasim Rahman, a man 10 years his junior, will go down as one of the more bizarre, but inspirational, heavyweight bouts in recent history.

Holyfield was able to outbox Rahman at every turn, jabbing and battering the former champion over and over, in addition to head-butting Rahman in the seventh round, causing an ugly and huge bruise over Rahman's left eye. The bruise was about a shade smaller than a baseball and potentially dangerous. The fight was stopped at 1 minute 40 seconds in the eighth round by Referee Tony Orlando.

The bout then went to the judges, and two of the three declared Holyfield the winner, earning him a technical split decision.

But it was difficult to figure out how one judge, Melvina Lathan, who scored it 67-66 for Rahman, could have found a round Rahman deserved to win. That is how convincing Holyfield's performance was from start to finish.

The bruise over Rahman's eye was frightening; a punch cannot do that kind of damage. Medical officials said Rahman sustained a hematoma, a tumorlike collection of blood outside the blood vessel. For several minutes after the fight, he remained dazed, sitting on his stool in a corner of the ring surrounded by cornermen and doctors.

Once he collected himself, Rahman complained that Holyfield did not fight fair.

"He was head-butting me," Rahman said. "I pointed that out to the referee. I felt every time I threw a right he would drop his head and head-butt me. I don't think Evander beat me."

Holyfield, who landed 44 percent of 294 punches thrown, said: "I felt good. The only thing you can do is do your best. When it goes to a decision, it is good to know the decision can go my way sometimes."

When asked if he had a message for those who have told him to leave the sport, Holyfield, as he often does, invoked his religious beliefs. "Don't tell me what God can't do," he said. "Don't tell me he can't revive a 39-year-old man."

What was raised from the dead were Holyfield's chances of gaining a fifth heavyweight championship. Holyfield (38-5-2) could face the winner of next week's Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis fight. Lewis has said if he wins he will not fight Holyfield again, but it's unclear what would happen if a large purse were dangled?

Meanwhile, Rahman (35-4), who is more of a street brawler than a smart boxer, had his career go up in smoke. There is little chance he will ever have another shot at the heavyweight championship.

Early in the fight, Holyfield showed just as much quickness as Rahman, landing several punches to the left side of Rahman's head. Then in the second round, Holyfield landed a solid left hook.

In the third, two right-hand punches forced Rahman into the corner, followed a short time later by a left-right combination.

At this stage, Holyfield was the aggressor and Rahman looked surprised at the way the fight was unfolding.

In the sixth round, Holyfield, again using combinations and again pushing Rahman into the ropes, went to the body twice before stunning Rahman with a left uppercut.

Holyfield outwitted Rahman, and for someone who is supposedly slower, he demonstrated much more quickness.

Holyfield's magic may be old, but it obviously still works. [1]