Sunday December 21st, 2008

"As the most representative organization of Professional Boxing, where the right application of the fundamental principles of ethics, moral, loyalty, honesty and good faith can be found, considered as the main values, which orientates all legitimate activity of the Professional Boxing Worldwide." -- WBA Mission Statement

Disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful.

What Evander Holyfield did in the ring Saturday night didn't conjure up memories of 45-year-old George Foreman's electrifying knockout of Michael Moorer in 1994. Holyfield wasn't impressive. He did not rattle Nikolai Valuev's enlarged cranium nor did he dazzle the capacity crowd in Zurich, Switzerland, with impressive flurries.

Instead, Holyfield was a human carousel, dancing around the 7-foot Valuev (who ably played the part of the post) and occasionally pausing to throw a meek punch or two.

But he absolutely, positively won the fight.

That three professional judges could score the fight for Valuev, and thereby deny Holyfield his fifth reign as heavyweight champion, is embarrassing. Valuev was awful. He didn't land one effective punch, much less a combination. He dispassionately allowed Holyfield to dictate the tempo of the fight while showing a complete and utter inability to use his long jab to keep the challenger at bay. He was sluggish and at times looked fearful of an opponent that had no possibility of hurting him.

Judge Guillermo Pérez Pineda scored the fight even, 114-114. OK, maybe -- but only if you Pineda was annoyed by Holyfield's dancing and decided to be punitive about it.

Judge Mikael Hook scored it 115-114 for Valuev. No word on if there was a bottle of Absinth at his table.

Judge Pierluigi Poppi scored the fight 116-112 for Valuev. If I'm a prosecutor, I'm subpoenaing Poppi's bank records tomorrow.

Let me repeat: There is no way Valuev won this fight. I'm not saying this because I'm a fan of Holyfield. Far from it. In the minutes between the final bell and when Michael Buffer seized the microphone, I cringed at the thought of having the 46-year-old Holyfield as the representative of American heavyweights. I believed, wholeheartedly, that Holyfield did enough to win this fight. I just don't think there is another credible fighter in the division who wouldn't have picked him apart.

That's how bad Valuev was.

The entire sport of boxing should be humiliated by this deep act of corruption. WBA president Gilberto Mendoza should issue a statement tomorrow apologizing for this sham and strip Valuev of his title. Because this is a body blow for boxing.

The goodwill that was generated by an edge-of-your-seat performance by Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto in July, a rebirth of Bernard Hopkins in October and an entertaining (if not one-sided) fight between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya last weekend has been lost, tossed in the garbage like the judge's scorecards should have been.

This is the story now. Once again, boxing has spit in the face of the fans who have been loyal to it, the ones who paid $25 to see the overhyped Valuev with his alphabet title face Holyfield, a legend in his time who now doesn't seem to know when to quit.

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