Holyfield Unanimously Outpoints Oquendo

Saturday, November 11th 2006, 7:44 am
By: News On 6

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ Evander Holyfield is billing his comeback as ``The Final Chapter.'' The former heavyweight champion added another page by unanimously outpointing Fres Oquendo in a tough fight Friday night.

The 44-year-old Holyfield had a couple of chances to take Oquendo out early, but the 33-year-old Puerto Rican stayed in and although he lost, likely raised new questions about Holyfield's return to the ring.

It was a close fight but the judges scored it 116-111, 114-113 and 114-113 for Holyfield, who won his 50th professional fight and pushed his record to 40-8-2 with 26 knockouts. Oquendo thought he had won and stormed out of the ring.

``I thought I won it,'' Holyfield said. ``My whole thing was it takes two people to fight a fight. I knocked him down early, but he didn't take a chance after that. I came to fight. He didn't.''

The former champion looked more energetic and aggressive than Oquendo early on, but the activity didn't translate into many landed punches.

The crowd of 10,000 at the Alamodome was solidly behind Holyfield as he entered the arena _ and he nearly ended it early.

After Oquendo surprised Holyfield with a quick right to the head seconds after the opening bell, Holyfield floored him with hard right to the temple only seconds later. Oquendo got to his feet and shook off the blow.

At the end of the sixth, Oquendo crumpled to the floor again after taking what he thought was a punch below the belt but Holyfield wasn't warned or penalized.

In the seventh, Holyfield landed a hard left to the temple that staggered Oquendo, but the former champ couldn't find the next punch to knock him down. Holyfield landed another hard shot later in the round that sent Oquendo bouncing off the ropes and had Holyfield seemingly in control of the fight.

But Oquendo survived the surge and the fight settled into a stalemate over the next few rounds as Holyfield looked a split second slow whenever Oquendo left an opening.

Holyfield kept pressing the fight in the late rounds, constantly walking at Oquendo to force the action until Oquendo stunned him a shot to the face that backed him off a bit. Holyfield's inability to get a clear shot and Oquendo's constant picking kept the fight almost even throughout.

By the 12th, both fighters looked for a decisive knockout blow that never came in a final flurry of punches.

``I thought it should have been unanimous. Unanimous in my favor,'' Oquendo said. ``I beat him fair and square. I boxed his ears off but I didn't get it. It's wrong.''

Holyfield has dismissed claims that he's too old and taken too many beatings to be back in the ring. Before he beat insurance salesman Jeremy Bates in August to start this comeback attempt, he hadn't fought in nearly two years.

``I don't have to say nothing to them people,'' Holyfield said. ``It's not the public that comes out with it, it's the media. The media will tell you this is it for you.''

He had lost his previous three fights and New York officials had revoked his license to fight in that state, citing diminished skills and poor performance. Texas officials licensed him to fight in the Lone Star State.

But even with those dubious credentials of late, Holyfield's status as a former champion and a weak heavyweight division make him one of the biggest names still in the game. Post a few more wins and he could get that 2007 title shot he craves.

A four-time champion, Holyfield would be the first heavyweight to win five. His stated goal is to unify the heavyweight titles and retire in 2008.

Oquendo, a Puerto Rican who fights out of Chicago, is 26-4 with 16 KOs, and was a much stiffer test than Bates. Although he has never won a major title, he won his first 22 fights and lost a controversial decision to Chris Byrd in 2003.

Holyfield won his first heavyweight championship in 1990 by defeating Buster Douglas.

``This whole world would be successful if everybody stopped quitting,'' Holyfield said.