Ibragimov Defeats Holyfield: Should Evander Retire?
The outcome was never in doubt on Saturday night, as the 32-year old World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion literally boxed circles around the 44-year old challenger Evander Holyfield in the process of winning by an easy 12-round unanimous decision at the Khodynka Ice Palace, in Moscow, Russia. The final judges’ scores – 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111 – gave no indication about how truly one-sided the bout was for Ibragimov, as Holyfield did virtually nothing all bout long except for follow him around and take shots to the head and midsection. In truth, Holyfield looked basically the same fighter he was in losing efforts to Chris Byrd, James Toney and Larry Donald in 2003 and 2004, only then Holyfield blamed the losses because of a shoulder a problem.
This time, there were no such excuses to fall back on because he was badly outclassed every minute of the fight. After a cautious first two round, I assumed that Holyfield would come out blazing in the third like he had against the four mediocre opponents he’d beaten during his boxing comeback. However, when Holyfield continued to throw next to nothing in the 3rd and fourth rounds, I began to understand that he just couldn’t, that he was simply too old to pull the trigger. By the 8th round, it had become embarrassing, as Ibragimov was hitting Holyfield at will and making him look like an old man, despite his still relatively youthful appearance.
In between rounds, Holyfield’s trainer pleaded with him to start punching, letting him know that he was being badly outworked. Still nothing came of it in subsequent rounds, as Holyfield continued to plod after Ibragimov and eat left hand after left hand for all his efforts. It wasn’t until the final round of the fight that Holyfield finally let his hands go for a brief spell, landing two hard right hands. The punches had the effect of sending Ibragimov into full retreat.
Only if Holyfield had done this earlier in the bout, things might have been different. However, as quickly as Holyfield turned on the gas, he quickly stopped punching for the rest of the round, as if the exertion of throwing a handful of punches had sapped the energy out of his aging body. Seeing that Holyfield had stopped punching, Ibragimov finished the remainder of the round in fine form by landing several sharp left hands.