Third Ruiz-Holyfield fight declared a draw; Ruiz maintains heavyweight title

Sunday, December 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (AP) _ Evander Holyfield was denied a fifth heavyweight championship when his third fight against John Ruiz was called a draw after 12 rounds.

Ruiz kept the WBA title after the bout Saturday night at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino.

It was a setback for the 39-year-old Holyfield, who wants to become the undisputed champion. After the fight, he again said that was his goal.

``I don't quit and I will not quit,'' he said.

It is unknown what the future holds for Holyfield, but Ruiz must make a WBA mandatory defense against Kirk Johnson of Canada in March.

``It was a tough fight,'' Ruiz said. ``He came out to fight. That's what I appreciate about him.''

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

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.

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