Sun, Nov 12, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Holyfield beats Oquendo, continues comeback bid

AFP , SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

Evander Holyfield, left, lands a punch to the head of Fres Oquendo during the fifth round of their heavyweight boxing fight in San Antonio yesterday. Holyfield won the fight on a unanimous decision.

PHOTO: AP

Evander Holyfield, seeking to capture the world heavyweight title for a fifth time, continued his comeback bid on Friday with a 12-round unanimous decision over Puerto Rican Fres Oquendo.

In front of a partisan crowd at the Alamodome, Holyfield earned the decision on two judges' cards by 114-113, while a third judge saw it 116-114 for the 44-year-old former champion.

Holyfield took his record to 40 wins, eight defeats and two draws, with 26 wins by knockout.

Oquendo, who lost world title fights to Chris Byrd in 2003 and John Ruiz in 2004, fell to 26-4.

It briefly looked as if Holyfield would put a quick end to things when he sent Oquendo to the canvas early in the opening round with a hard right to the head.

Oquendo responded with a punishing blow of his own, but the bout then evolved into a slow-paced affair.

In the final moments of the sixth round, Oquendo went down again after Holyfield landed a series of blows at his belt, but US referee Laurence Cole saw no reason to penalize Holyfield for a low blow.

The former champ finished strong, and overall appeared in good condition.

"I feel good," Holyfield insisted. "It's not a new Holyfield. It's the same Holyfield who won four world titles, and who is going for a fifth."

Holyfield, the only man to lose the heavyweight crown four times, beat Jeremy Bates in August to launch his comeback bid. Prior to that he hadn't fought in nearly two years.

He blamed a poor showing in a unanimous 12-round loss to Larry Donald in November 2004 and two prior defeats on a shoulder injury that he says is now healed.

Holyfield reiterated his desire for a title shot in 2007.

"My goal is to be champion again," Holyfield said. "When I achieve that, I will retire."

The peak of Holyfield's career came in 1996 when he defeated Mike Tyson for the heavyweight title, then won a rematch by disqualification the next year when Tyson bit a chunk out of his ear.

Holyfield lost his crown to Britain's Lennox Lewis in 1999, fighting Lewis to a controversial draw in Madison Square Garden before losing a rematch at Las Vegas.

He won back a World Boxing Association crown vacated by Lewis in 2000 but lost it in 2001 to Puerto Rico's John Ruiz, a signal his best days were done.

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