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Ruiz-Holyfield III a Draw

From Associated Press

John Ruiz and Evander Holyfield both proclaimed victory, but neither got it.

Their 12-round fight in a casino bingo hall, marked by much mauling and clutching, ended in a draw. That enabled Ruiz to retain the World Boxing Assn. championship and kept Holyfield from becoming a champion for a fifth time.

“Of course I feel as though I won,” said Holyfield, “but when it goes to the judges, anything can happen.”

Added Ruiz: “I was disappointed. I wanted a knockout, but I definitely feel I won.”

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It was an unsatisfactory end to a three-fight series between the two men. Holyfield won the vacant title on points on Aug. 12, 2000. Ruiz took the title from Holyfield on points March 3.

At age 39, Holyfield looked like a shadow of the champion he once was, but he said, “I don’t quit and I will not quit.”

Holyfield shattered Ruiz’s nose in the first round, said Norman Stone, Ruiz’s manager. “I believe it was with an elbow,” Stone said.

Ruiz was bleeding badly from the nose in the final round but it wasn’t noticeable earlier in the fight.

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Holyfield gained a draw when he won the 12th round on the card of judge Tom Kaczmarek of New Jersey. That made Kaczmarek’s score 114-114.

Judge Julie Lederman of New York scored it 116-112 for Holyfield, giving him the last five rounds. Judge Donald O’Neill of Florida also gave the last round to Holyfield, but scored it 115-113 for Ruiz.

The AP scored it 114-114, giving Holyfield the final round.

The draw was roundly booed by the crowd of about 4,200 at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino.

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“I felt good,” Holyfield said. “I did all I could. I was fighting a guy who is really tricky and very awkward.”

According to a CompuBox punch stat, Ruiz landed 141 of 411 punches, while Holyfield was credited with 152 of 470. Ruiz’s best punch was his left jab. He was credited with landing 72 jabs while Holyfield landed only 35.

“I fought his fight,” Ruiz said.

The first half of the fight was mostly clinching and mauling as neither fighter could get into his rhythm.

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

Ruiz, 232, who will turn 30 on Jan. 4, 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 very, very tired. Holyfield had the edge with a couple of solid shots to the head.

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Ruiz, of Chelsea, Mass., who made $3.2 million, is 37-4-1 with 27 knockouts. Holyfield, of Atlanta, who made $2 million, is 37-5-2 with 25 knockouts.

On the undercard, Tim Austin used the jab to perfection and retained the International Boxing Federation bantamweight title with a unanimous decision over Ratanachai Vorapin.

Austin controlled the battle of left-handers with punishing left jabs, and Vorapin was never able to launch a sustained attack.

It was Austin’s eighth defense of the 118-pound title he won in 1997.

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