Commentary

Holyfield looks dreadful against Williams

Originally Published: January 24, 2011
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com


A roundup of the past week's notable boxing results from around the world:

Saturday At White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Heavyweight
Evander Holyfield No contest 3 Sherman Williams

Records: Holyfield, 43-10-2, 28 KOs; Williams, 34-11-2, 19 KOs

Rafael's remark: In the main event of an excruciatingly bad pay-per-view -- perhaps the worst ever (for real) -- the 48-year-old Holyfield looked every bit his age. The former four-time heavyweight titleholder is one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, but is now so far removed from being a quality fighter it is simply sad to watch. He let a journeyman opponent he once would have crushed without breaking a sweat smack him around with right hands and dominate the first three rounds until the anticlimactic ending of what had been an abysmal night. (Don't even ask about the Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen imitators singing between fights and the female trapeze artist. Seriously.)

Williams, a 38-year-old native of the Bahamas based in Ft. Pierce, Fla., was fighting for only the third time since 2007 and he had not fought since a loss in October 2009. Yet there he was taking it to Atlanta's worn-out Holyfield, backing him up with right hands. All Holyfield could do was bounce up and down and side to side with little ability to fire a meaningful shot. The fight, originally ticketed to take place in Detroit, had already been postponed multiple times before finally landing at a West Virginia resort, where a black-tie crowd watched with little enthusiasm. It was hard to blame them. It was like watching Willie Mays stumble around in the outfield during his last days with the Mets or listening to Frank Sinatra butcher his classics at the end. Just pathetic.

In the second round, an accidental head butt caught Holyfield and opened a small cut over his left eye. Williams had a big third round and after it was over, Holyfield quit on his stool complaining that blood was getting in his eye and that he could not see. Referee Dave Johnson bought it and declared the fight a no contest because it had not yet gone the required four rounds to send it to the scorecards (where, even had it gone four rounds, it would have been impossible to imagine Holyfield ahead after the way he looked through the early rounds). The only problem with the stoppage was that the cut did not look bad at all and there was very little sign of any blood dripping. Holyfield just seemed to not want to continue. He is due to fight March 5 in Denmark against fellow fossil Brian Nielson, although it is possible the cut could delay that bout. Holyfield also mentioned the possibility of a rematch with Williams. Lord help us. Does anyone actually want to see Holyfield fight anymore against anyone? He talks about wanting to become undisputed champion again before finally retiring. Even if he was still good enough to be able to win against the guys with the titles boxing politics make it virtually impossible to hold all the belts. Holyfield can dream, and it's hard not to admire his stubborn determination, but enough is enough. He can fight if he wants as long as some commission somewhere will license him. If he wants to get his brains beat in some more, so be it. But he is not going to be undisputed champion. Simply ain't happening. He has a better chance of getting hit by lightning or winning the next Mega Millions jackpot. Too bad he doesn't realize it.

Heavyweight
Kevin Johnson W8 Julius Long

Scores: 79-71 (three times)
Records: Johnson, 24-1-1, 10 KOs; Long, 15-15, 13 KOs

Rafael's remark: You know how you know you are watching an absolutely horrific pay-per-view card? When Johnson-Long is the co-feature. How utterly depressing. Johnson, 31, of Atlanta, is the guy who went the distance against titlist Vitali Klitschko in a December 2009 title fight, but never once tried to win. He simply lost every single round just trying to survive. This was his second fight since that disgraceful performance. He took the fight on a few days' notice after Travis Kauffman dropped out with the flu. Johnson is a way more talented fighter than Long, 33, of Detroit, whose only claim to fame is that he's 7-foot-1. He can't fight much, but Johnson ran from him for long stretches of the fight. When Johnson decided to throw punches, he dominated. Johnson got a little aggressive in the sixth round when he put together a series of shots and was teeing off on Long near the end of the round. Long's response was merely to flap his gums at Johnson instead of throwing punches back. In the eighth round, Long was spent and Johnson dropped him twice, although Long has been around long enough to have learned a few tricks. After one of the knockdowns he looked at the clock on the large video screen in the arena to see that he only had about 30 more seconds to survive, which seemed to be his goal. Johnson took the easy unanimous decision, but looked unimpressive in doing so.

Heavyweight
Charles Davis D8 Monte Barrett

Scores: 76-76 (twice), 77-75 Davis
Records: Davis, 19-21-3, 4 KOs; Barrett, 34-9-1, 20 KOs

Rafael's remark: In 2008 and 2009, long-faded former contender Barrett, 39, of Queens, N.Y., lost three consecutive fights, including two by knockout. So when he held David Tua to a majority draw -- and knocked the usually iron-chinned Tua down for the first time in his career -- in July, it was a tremendous surprise. There has been talk of a rematch between Barrett and Tua, but Barrett took this interim bout and was shockingly held to a draw by Davis, 39, of Tucson, Ariz., a southpaw journeyman who had lost four in a row. Barrett was supposed to win easily. But Davis came to fight and frustrated Barrett throughout an awful fight to get the draw. Congrats to Davis, but Barrett showed that he has very little left. The rematch with Tua could still happen, so at least Barrett will get another payday, but there aren't too many left after this mess.

In the opening bout of the pay-per-view, Detroit middleweight Willie Fortune (10-0, 5 KOs) won an eight-round split decision against Chicago-based Lithuania native Donatas Bondoravas (10-2-1, 3 KOs) on scores of 77-75 (twice) and 77-75 for Bondoravas. On the (thankfully) untelevised part of the card, Atlanta heavyweight Cedric Boswell (33-1, 26 KOs) scored a second-round knockout against journeyman Dominique Alexander (19-10-1, 9 KOs) of Topeka, Kan. Boswell dropped Alexander three times and the fight was called off because the three-knockdown rule was being used.

Saturday at Las Vegas
Junior lightweight
Diego Magdaleno TKO5 Marcos Leonardo Jimenez

Records: Magdaleno, 18-0, 6 KOs; Jimenez, 18-3, 12 KOs

Rafael's remark: Magdaleno, 24, is from Las Vegas and drew an enthusiastic crowd to watch him dismantle Jimenez, 26, of the Dominican Republic, in the season debut of "Top Rank Live" at the Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel. Magdaleno was credited with a knockdown in the first round, although replays showed that Jimenez went down to his rear end as the result of an accidental head butt that referee Tony Weeks did not see. But head-butt or not, Magdaleno was in control. He was aggressive, worked Jimenez over to the body and landed hard shots with both hands throughout the fight. By the fifth round, Jimenez looked spent, but Magdaleno was still fresh. With about 30 seconds left in the round, Magdaleno cracked him with a flush left hand while Jimenez was in a corner. It was just the start of a sustained flurry of blows that Magdaleno rained down on Jimenez for the rest of the round. He threw dozens of punches as Jimenez could do little more than try to cover up. After the round, Weeks stopped the bout on the advice of the ringside physician. Good performance for the developing Magdaleno, who has been brought along nicely by promoter Top Rank and matchmaker Brad "Abdul" Goodman.

Featherweight
Roberto Marroquin TKO4 Eduardo Arcos

Records: Marroquin, 18-0, 14 KOs; Arcos, 17-3, 14 KOs

Rafael's remark: Marroquin, a 21-year-old from Dallas, is one of Top Rank's best prospects. He turned pro in 2008 after a standout amateur career in which he won the 2006 Junior Olympic nationals and made it to the finals of at the 2007 U.S. Olympic trials as a teenager. He was busy in 2010, going 6-0 and landing high-profile slots on Manny Pacquiao's two undercards, which took place at Cowboys Stadium, where Marroquin had plenty of fans cheering for him. Marroquin began his 2011 campaign in good fashion. He and Arcos, a 22-year-old late substitute from Mexico, put on a spirited fight, but Marroquin was simply the better man. In the fourth round, Marroquin finished him with a pair of knockdowns on left hands. After the first knockdown, Arcos was extremely unsteady as he rose but was able to get himself together. But moments later, he went down again and referee Kenny Bayless immediately called it off at 1 minute, 21 seconds. Marroquin sure can close the show. He will return April 23 in a scheduled eight-rounder against an opponent to be named on another "Top Rank Live" card at the WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Okla.

Featherweight
Jesse Magdaleno TKO3 Cain Garcia

Records: Magdaleno, 2-0, 2 KOs; Garcia, 0-2

Rafael's remark: Magdaleno, 19, of Las Vegas, is the younger brother of main event winner Diego Magdaleno. Jesse turned pro in November after an amateur career in which he went 120-16 and won six major titles, including the U.S. Nationals and National Golden Gloves in 2009. Had he remained amateur, Magdaleno would have been a good bet to be on the U.S. Olympic team. But now he is getting paid to fight and took care Garcia, 23, of Bakersfield, Calif., in dominant fashion. Magdaleno was too strong and fast for Garcia, who showed heart to make it through the first round. Magdaleno, who fought better opponents in the amateur ranks, was all over him throughout the fight before finishing it in spectacular fashion. Magdaleno landed a leaping right hand that caught Garcia and sent him staggering into the ropes and down. He made it to his feet but was in no shape to continue and referee Tony Weeks called off the fight at 2 minutes, 14 seconds.

On the untelevised part of the card, 18-year-old blue chip junior welterweight prospect Jose Benavidez Jr. (10-0, 9 KOs) of Phoenix scored a six-round unanimous decision against Fernando Rodriguez (5-2, 3 KOs), 21, of Dallas. Benavidez won 59-55 (twice) and 58-56 on the scorecards, the first time as a pro he was taken the distance. Hall of Famer Michael Carbajal, the last great Phoenix fighter, was at the show and in the ring to congratulate Benavidez afterward.

Friday at Mendoza, Argentina
Junior welterweight
Lucas Matthysse TKO8 DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley

Records: Matthysse, 28-1, 26 KOs; Corley, 37-16-1, 22 KOs

Rafael's remark: A little more than two months ago, Argentina's Matthysse, 28, went to New Jersey and put up a tremendous effort against Zab Judah in a title eliminator on HBO. Although Matthysse began slowly, he closed very strong and dropped Judah in the 10th round but lost a split decision that probably could have gone either way. Making his return in short order, Matthysse headlined Telefutura's "Solo Boxeo Tecate" and destroyed former titlist Corley, who is known to fans in Argentina. That's because in August, Corley, 36, of Washington, D.C., went there and gave top contender Marcos Maidana everything he could handle in an exciting decision loss. Matthysse had a much easier time with Corley than his countryman. Matthysse, a heavy puncher, punished Corley to the body, hammered him with right hands and dropped him eight times -- yes, eight times -- en route to a lopsided victory. Corley, who has lost five of his last six bouts, showed enormous heart but simply had no answers as he went down several times from body blows. Although never badly hurt by any of the knockdowns, Corley had a bloody nose, swelling around his eyes and no prayer to win. He was down twice in the fifth round, once in the sixth, three times in the seventh and three more times in the eighth before referee Hernan Guajardo called it off without a count after the eighth knockdown.

Incredibly, Egis Klimas, Corley's manager, issued a bizarre press release on Saturday complaining about the refereeing and the stoppage. He had the audacity to say what happened to Corley "was an outright injustice and another black eye for boxing." He said they would file a complaint with the commission in Argentina. Any complaint would have zero merit. Klimas seems disconnected from reality.

Although Corley's eight knockdowns are not a record, it is certainly the most in recent memory. We turned to friend Steve Farhood, the Showtime analyst and historian, for a little perspective. The only thing he could come up with that was more was a fight in Boston in 1953 when Jimmy Carter retained the lightweight title with a fourth-round TKO of Tommy Collins, who went down 10 times before his corner stopped the fight.

Matthysse is an exciting fighter and given his performance against Judah and dismantling of Corley, he fits right into any fight against a top 140-pounder. How about this for a terrific HBO fight: Matthysse against Maidana?

Also on the card, flyweight titlist Juan Carlos Reveco (26-1, 15 KOs), fighting in his hometown, scored a first-round knockdown and rolled to a 10-round decision against Nicaragua's Miguel Tellez (20-14-1, 6 KOs) in a nontitle bout. Reveco won on a shutout, 100-89 on all three scorecards.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.