Holyfield camp: Scoring didn't add up

April 24, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Professional boxing found itself embroiled in yet another controversy after Michael Moorer won a majority decision over Evander Holyfield at Caesars Palace on Friday night to produce a new International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association heavyweight champion.

Quirky scoring by judge Jerry Roth brought an official protest from Holyfield's manager, Shelly Finkel, who said it would prompt both the IBF and WBA to sanction a rematch with Moorer this year, if Holyfield, 31, does not choose to retire.

Roth (115-114) and Chuck Giampa (116-112) favored Moorer, while the third official, Dalby Shirley, called the 12-round match a 114-114 draw. But Roth drew criticism by casting a 10-10 vote in the second round, even though Moorer had been knocked down.

Quite often, judges give the man delivering the knockdown blow 10-8 advantage. But if the other fighter had dominated the action leading up to the knockdown, a 10-9 edge is deemed acceptable.

"I've never seen a man scoring a knockdown not get the edge in the round," said Finkel.

Had Roth given Holyfield the round by even one point, his card would have also read 114-114, creating a majority draw and allowing Holyfield to retain his two titles.

Roth was not available for comment.

"We're not contesting the final result," said Finkel. "We're only looking to have the sanctioning bodies grant Holyfield the right to a rematch. Knowing his determination, he will probably decide to fight again."

Holyfield was not available to speak for himself. He was still resting in Valley Hospital, having complained of a sore left shoulder. He also got six stitches over his left eye, the result of a nasty cut he suffered in the fifth round that bled freely the rest of the fight and caused vision problems.

Moorer also visited the same hospital late Friday night, checking a swollen left elbow that will be re-examined after he returns to his home in Detroit.

Moorer appeared low-key and unaffected in his new role as heavyweight champion. (He reigned briefly as World Boxing Organization king, a dubious title he quickly abandoned.) In fact, he acted as though he had already accomplished all his goals.

"I'm not ready now to talk about 'Who's next.' And it's not really important to me to unify the title," he said, alluding to a possible match with World Boxing Council champion Lennox Lewis. "I'm 35-0. I don't have to stick around in boxing to make everyone else happy.

"I'm not limited to boxing, like most people think of fighters. I can do other things, and I've always been interested in law enforcement."

When someone jokingly asked if, as a law officer, he might investigate boxing, Moorer countered, "Why, do you know something I don't?"

Many boxing experts felt it was a crime the way Holyfield robbed himself of his titles. His first mistake was in selling Moorer short while being consumed with his eventual place in boxing history.

Instead of concentrating on Moorer, Holyfield used the pre-fight news conferences to discuss future bouts against Lewis, a rubber match with Riddick Bowe and an eventual showdown in 1996 against former champion Mike Tyson, who is expected to be released from an Indiana prison next year.

But a more costly decision for Holyfield was the cost-saving measures that led to his dismissal of trainer Emanuel Steward, who had mapped out the strategy for his upset of Bowe last November, and of regular cut man Ace Marotta.

His new trainer, Donald Turner, had told the media, "Anyone can fix a cut." But, in fact, little was done to stem Holyfield's bleeding Friday night.

Spotted in the crowd after the fight, Marotta, wearing a Cheshire cat-like grin, said, "Penny-wise, pound foolish."

And despite the presence of two left-handed sparring partners in his training camp, Holyfield appeared baffled by the unorthodox stance of Moorer, who became the first left-handed heavyweight champ in history.

Expertly prepared by Teddy Atlas, Moorer out-jabbed Holyfield, 180-36. "I told Michael the jab would be the key to winning, not his power," said Atlas.

"I had watched tapes of Holmes, an orthodox fighter, catching Holyfield with jab after jab. I knew it would be even easier for Michael to get through his defense. Holyfield likes to bounce, and Michael kept knocking him off balance with the jab.

"To me, watching tapes of Holyfield was like watching a man on Grecian formula. I could see him getting older, more bald and getting hit more each fight. And I just didn't think he could get up emotionally after his two tough fights with Bowe."

While everyone heaped praise on the way Atlas prepared Moorer, Turner, an obscure trainer for 25 years, was the center of controversy.

"I'm used to criticism," said Turner. "That's why my name is Donald. It rolls off my back like water off a duck. I've found over the years that fight fans and boxing writers are the least sophisticated critics."

Holyfield's defeat leaves the heavyweight class more confused than usual. If Lewis beats the lightly regarded Jackson, he faces a mandatory defense against top-ranked Oliver McCall.

With promoter Dan Duva holding options on Lewis, Holyfield and Moorer, seeking the most attractive financial deals will be the key. But a Holyfield-Moorer rematch is the most likely scenario.

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