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Monday, March 15, 1999 Published at 20:00 GMT


Fight judge defends his decision

Fight drawn: But the result continues to cause controversy

The British judge who awarded Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield equal points for their world heavyweight unification fight has defended his decision on BBC TV.

Lewis vs Holyfield
Larry O'Connell, one of three judges who scored the fight, admitted he would have preferred an outright result, but dismissed suggestions the fight was in any way fixed.

Speaking on BBC TV, O'Connell said: "It was a shame it was a draw.


Andy Swiss: "O'Connor claims that he is a man of integrity "
"But I didn't know the result of my score until they announced it in the ring.

"Because I do a round-by-round card my card goes straight to the supervisor and I don't see the cards until I finish the fight."


[ image: Larry O'Connell: handling the pressure]
Larry O'Connell: handling the pressure
Despite Lewis's dominance in terms of hit counts - the British boxer threw twice as many as his American counterpart during the fight - O'Connell said it had been extremely close.

He rejected the suggestion that the result of a fight could be based on the number of hits alone, adding that the quality of punches was by far the most important factor.


Larry O'Connell: "I feel I judged the fight well"
"There are different types of punches, so you cannot do it like that," he said.

"How do you know where they were landed? Were they landed on the target? Were they landed lightly or heavily? All sorts of things come into it."


[ image:  ]
The event, billed as the fight of the decade, shocked the boxing world, with commentators from around the globe as well as the 21,000-strong crowd at Madison Square Garden calling the result a scandal.

But O'Connell steadfastly defended his decision, saying the fight, far from being a runaway Lewis victory, was too close to call.

"I think it was much more even than the two other judges gave it.

"Remember one gave it three rounds one way the other gave it three rounds the other way and I'm right in between.

The reason I'm being vilified for this is because I'm British and I'm supposed to favour a British fighter.

"I'm under pressure now - but if you can't handle the pressure you shouldn't be doing the job."



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