NEW YORK -- It turned out Evander Holyfield wasn't telling the truth, but the 36-year-old IBF-WBA heavyweight champion escaped with a loudly booed draw against Lennox Lewis in Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Holyfield said Lewis would be knocked out in the third round and that it wasn't a prediction but the truth.Holyfield, however, never came close to knocking Lewis down, let alone out, as the 33-year-old Briton seemd to dominate the 12-round bout for the undisputed heavyweight championship
According to a punch count, Lewis landed 348 of 613 punches for a connection rate of 57 percent. Holyfield connected on 130 of 385 punches, or 34 percent.
Lewis landed more jabs than Holyfield did punches. Yet, one judge favored Holyfield and another called it a draw.
The official judges' scoring was: Larry O'Conner of Britain, 115-115, Larry Christodoulou of South Africa favored Lewis 116-113, and Jean Williams of the United States had it 115-113 for Holyfield.
The AP card favored Lewis 117-111.
When the decision was announced, it was roundly booed by the sellout crowd of 21,284, which paid a gate of more than $11 million.
Holyfield never came close to having Lewis in serious trouble while Holyfield was staggered on several occasions. His left eye appeared almost closed and the left side of his face was badly swollen.
Lewis was bidding to become the first Brit to win the undisputed heavyweight championship in this centruy. Of the 12 previous British challengers who had failed only two had gone the distance.
Much had been made of Holyfield's prediction that Lewis would fall in the third round and, while Holyfield appeared to have the best of that round when he landed several hard rights to the head, Lewis was never in danger of going down.
"He controlled the fight. It wasn't even close," said Emanuel Steward, who trains Lewis and used to train Holyfield. "This is what is killing boxing."
Not only was the scoring roundly booed, but Lewis had to win the last round on O'Conner's card just to get a draw.
Lewis seemd to control the action with left jabs and numerous right-hand leads to the head while the 6-2 1/2 Holyfield had trouble getting inside the 6-5 Lewis' reach. Swelling started around Holyfield's left eye early in the fight and Lewis seemed to have the best of the middle rounds.
Lewis, 246, rattled Holyfield, 215, on several occasions but never came close to putting him down. As the fight drew to a close, Lewis raised his hands in triumph and 7,000 British fans gave him a rousing cheer.
Those cheers became a chorus of boos that rained down on the Garden ring.