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Friday, March 19, 1999 Published at 13:35 GMT

Boxing judge has change of heart

Eugenia Williams: TV pictures "not the same"

An American boxing judge has told a hearing in New York that on reflection she would have called the Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield fight a draw and given the crucial fifth round to Lewis.

Eugenia Williams explains why she gave the bout to Holyfield
At the time Eugenia Williams gave the bout to Holyfield by two rounds.

The judges declared last Saturday's world heavywheight championship a draw, but most commentators and spectators felt Lewis was the winner. Along with the 21,000 spectators at Madison Square Garden in New York, they called the result a scandal.
Lewis vs Holyfield

Williams was shown a videotape of the fifth round in which she was the only judge to declare Holyfield the winner.

Afterwards she said: "What I saw on TV is not the same as what I saw that night. I can only go by what I looked at that night and I scored that accordingly." She then said she would have given that round to Lewis.

Frank Maloney criticises Williams for her U-turn over the bout
But her change of heart brought a furious reaction from Lewis' manager Frank Maloney.

"I believe it's just a cop out for the American judge," Maloney said.

"If she couldn't see the rounds clearly she should have complained to the supervisors - that's what they're there for.

[ image: The draw decision rocked the boxing world]
The draw decision rocked the boxing world
"To say it after the event is a bit stupid."

Even if Williams had decided against Holyfield in the fifth round, the final result would not have changed. It would have been "a majority draw" because one of the other officials, Britain's Larry O'Connell, ruled it an even contest.

Williams blamed Lewis for obscuring her view of the fight and said ringside photographers were also at fault.

She told of her change of heart before a grand jury ordered by the Manhattan District Attorney in New York to investigate allegations that the three judges received illegal payments and consider new ways to run boxing.

King denies blame

The fight promoter Don King testified that he did not influence the outcome of the bout.

[ image: Don King:
Don King: "I have nothing to do with the outcome"
King, the most flamboyant character in boxing promotion, said he felt unfairly blamed for the indecisive outcome of the fight.

"The main thing is that I have nothing to do with the selection of judges or the outcome of the event," King said under questioning from state senator Roy Goodman about the way boxing title fights are organised and promoted.

The judges for the bout at Madison Square Garden in New York were appointed by the sport's three governing bodies - the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Council (WBC) and the International Boxing Federation (IBF).

They received a standard fee of $5,150 each but King paid expenses such as hotel bills and meals, as is the custom for such events.

Crisis for boxing

Instead of producing an undisputed heavyweight world champion, the fight has plunged the boxing world into crisis, with some experts questioning whether the honesty and competence of the judging.

Judge Stanley Christoudoulou of South Africa scored the fight 116-113 points in favour of WBC champion Lewis. American Williams had Holyfield winning 115-113. Britain's Judge Larry O'Connell scored it a draw at 115-115.

The fighters took home combined purses of $30 million.

Lewis and Holyfield may agree to a rematch ordered by the three boxing organisations. However, Holyfield could decide to retire before another fight.

Lewis's promoter, Panos Eliades, said that Nelson Mandela had offered to stage the contest in South Africa.

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