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Sunday, 16 December, 2001, 06:05 GMT
Ruiz retains WBA title
John Ruiz pictured during his bout against Evander Holyfield
Ruiz goes on the attack against Holyfield
Evander Holyfield was denied a fifth heavyweight championship when his third fight against John Ruiz was called a draw by judges.

Ruiz - who reportedly broke his nose in the first round - kept the WBA title.

But his own partisan crowd booed the verdict.

The majority of boxing writers at ringside felt that Holyfield did enough to take the title, especially with a strong finish.

It was a setback for the 39-year-old Holyfield, who wanted to become the undisputed champion.

Instead, this fight at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut could be his last tilt at a world title.

But Holyfield said he would have another shot at regaining all of the heavyweight belts.

Ruiz left the post-fight press conference early to get treatment at a local hospital.

The 29-year-old swallowed a lot of blood during the fight after suffering a broken nose.


He came out to fight. That's what I appreciate about him
John Ruiz

Ruiz must now make a WBA mandatory defense against Kirk Johnson of Canada in March.

A re-match with Holyfield could then be a possibility.

Judge Julie Lederman of New York scored this bout 116-112 for Holyfield.

Judge Don O'Neill of Florida favored Ruiz, 115-113.

Judge Tom Kaczmarek of New Jersey called it 114-114.

"It was a tough fight," Ruiz said.

"He came out to fight. That's what I appreciate about him."

Broken nose

Ruiz added: "I definitely feel I won. It took me a while to get off but I did. I was disappointed. I wanted a knockout."

Holyfield said: "Of course, I feel as though I won. But when it goes to the judges, anything can happen."

Asked if he would retire, Holyfield said: "I don't quit and I will not quit."

The first half of the fight saw neither fighter get into his rhythm.

Holyfield reportedly broke Ruiz's nose in the first round, with Ruiz's corner claiming that had been done by an elbow.

Holyfield countered by complaining to referee Steve Smoger about Ruiz's holding - as the official struggled to prise the fighters apart.

Things picked up in the eighth round when Holyfield landed a left-right-left in the first minutes, connected with three good body shots and repeated the left-right-left combination with 30 seconds left.

Holyfield also appeared to have the best of the ninth round when he landed a left-right combination and a right uppercut.

Evander Holyfield pictured as the judges' verdict was announced
Holyfield takes in the verdict

Ruiz, who will be 30 on 4 January, controlled the 10th round with several good jabs and then a four-punch combination that rattled Holyfield.

Holyfield came back with two shots. Then the two went toe-to-toe until the bell, with Ruiz having the best of it.

Ruiz landed several jabs and a couple of good body shots in the 11th, but in the final round he looked tired.

Holyfield had the edge with a couple of solid shots to the head.

Ruiz of Chelsea, Massachusetts, received $2m for this bout and is now 37-4-1 with 27 knockouts.

Holyfield, of Atlanta, is 37-5-2 with 25 knockouts.

This was the third fight between the two men, who split the previous two bouts.

In other action on the bill, Britain's Danny Williams beat American Shawn Robinson in two rounds.

The British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion is in line for a world title shot next year, perhaps against Ruiz.

American Tim Austin retained his International Boxing Federation Bantamweight title with a unanimous decision after 12 rounds over Ratanachai Vorapin of Thailand.

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 ON THIS STORY
Todd Ant reports for BBC Sport
"Maybe it's time for Holyfield and Ruiz to move on"
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