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April 1999 Article

Exclusively Found in the Insider Viewpoint of Las Vegas

By: Frank Rosenthal

March 13, 1999 - New York, New York, Madison Square Garden.

It was not the first time; it will not be the last. The title read, (12-round heavyweight unification fight) Evander Holyfield (WBA & IBF champ) vs. Lennox Lewis (WBC champ). Muhammad Ali one of the greatest fighters in modern day boxing history summed it up this way, "The biggest fix in fight history." The former three-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world added more. "What occurred once the 12-round event concluded will surely go down in boxing annals as the biggest fix in fight history." Okay champ, Lewis got hit with the "Doublecross" but he is simply one member or victim that has become all too common over many decades.

Professional boxing has enjoyed worldwide popularity in spite of, dives, tanks, butting and biting, blows below the belt, mismatches, gloves loaded with lead, and 3 blind mice. On the evening of the fight I received a call from a longtime friend who knows the racket inside and out. "Which way you heading Frank?"

"Sideways, Lewis has a good shot, but I’m not sure what shape he’s in." "How are things in Sin City?" "Nothing has really changed; lots more rooms, bright lights, and the suckers keep on coming." "What’s your take on the fight?" "I agree with you, but Lewis does have a good shot up against an undersized heavyweight." "Forget about their conditioning -the right side is Holyfield!" "Don’t get trapped, there is a good flow of unnatural money coming in on Holyfield that I would respect." "Sounds to me like your down, or about to be." "Just thought I would say hello and steer you clear of a possible trap." "Which way are the Wise Guys going." "There was a good run on Lewis, but that money has dried up." Okay, appreciate the tip, but I’m going to pass." "Good luck, hope you cash in; stay in touch. I will be rooting for you.

"It is a draw. Judge Stanley Christoudoulou scored the bout 116-113 for the WBC Champion Lennox Lewis, Eugenia Williams scored 115-113 for the IBF and WBA titleholder EVANDER HOLYFIELD, and judge Larry O’Connell Called it a draw. Now that takes BALLS, HUGE BALLS, BALLS OF STEAL!"

Pay Per View racked up 1.2 million hits at $49.95 some paid more. Wonder if you can charge back?

Back to the scorecards, that was one hell of "Coup." A New York grand jury is taking a closer look. Maybe Eugenia Williams and Larry O’Connell should have been provided with INSTANT REPLAY.

I thought I had seen it all, but this one heads to the top of my list, or at least very close. When Lewis raised his gloves in victory style at the end of round 12, little did he know that he was most fortunate to wind up with a draw? Had he not won round 12 on all three cards, he would have blown the fight and headed back to the U.K. without much leverage.

They have scheduled a rematch to take place around September; the site has not yet been determined. Looking down the road, pay-per view will increase its audience and may even price the fight higher. Holyfield will need to be in the best shape of his career to win this one. If he is not, look for a knockout from the much younger and stronger Brit. I tip my hat to the ringmasters; they call the shots, and if you are foolish enough to wager on the outcome of boxing matches I would invite you to bet the ranch on your weekly lottery.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been trapped several times over the years and have been accused of setting a few traps. They taught me never to holler "copper" when you’re locked into the "wrong side." Gambling is not meant for the faint hearted or the idealist. Just look at the marvelous new additions that have become Las Vegas. The public paves the way, while the owners stash it away. Back to Holyfield, Lewis match. I have not read or spoken to anyone that scored the fight who did not believe that Lewis won handily in a breeze.

When seldom heard MUHAMMAD ALI lashes out in the manner mentioned above, one would be inclined to take special notice. Boxing promoter tycoon Don King is a prince of a fellow who knows the fight game quite well. He too should be looking into a decision that appalled the entire sporting world. The game has been good to him, very good. They train fighters to defend against a right cross and a left cross. Nobody can defend or neutralize the doublecross.

It has been said that you can buy or sell just about anything you’re looking for in the big apple. If you had any doubts prior to now it would be time to come to grips that maybe their right. Some might say, no harm, no foul. Lewis is primed for the biggest payday of his career. It should be interesting, I will be looking forward to hearing from my good boxing buddy, and this time I’m going to take his advice. Sorry about not having delivered a "special look" at one of Las Vegas well-known shakers and movers, the publisher requested that we put that one on the back burner until May.

Stay tuned.

Frank Rosenthal


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