Klitschko wins split decision after head butt

Updated: October 4, 2004, 2:12 PM ET
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS -- Wladimir Klitschko was knocked down and ended the fight bleeding on his stool. He looked anything but a winner, but the scorecards said otherwise.

Klitschko won a split decision over DaVarryl Williamson after the fight was stopped at the end of the fifth round Saturday night because of a head butt. The ring doctor ruled Klitschko was bleeding too badly to continue, but the decision went to the ringside scorecards because the butt was unintentional.

Klitschko, the younger brother of WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, was coming back after being stopped in the fifth round of his last fight with Lamon Brewster. His fate looked uncertain again when Williamson threw a right hand that dropped him to one knee in the fourth round.

That was one of only a few punches landed by Williamson, though, who lost four of the five rounds on two scorecards. Two judges had Wladimir Klitschko winning 49-46, while the third had Williamson ahead 48-47.

"It was not an easy fight," Klitschko said. "I really felt his right hand."

Klitschko was booed by many in the crowd at the outdoor arena at Caesars Palace after the decision was announced. But he landed most of the bigger punches, other than the right hand that dropped him 40 seconds in the fourth round.

"He hit me with the right hand but I was off balance," Klitschko said.

Klitschko said before the fight that he needed a big win to gain his confidence back. He has been knocked out in two of his last four fights

"I never lost my confidence after the Brewster fight," he said. "I would be happy to get back in the ring as soon as possible."

Klitschko (43-3) was bleeding from a cut on his left eye in the fourth round, and blood was pouring out of a cut above his right eye following the head butt in the closing seconds of the fifth round. But Williamson (20-3) seemed content to circle and stay away from his right hand most of the fight.

In another fight, Jeff Lacy became the first member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic boxing team to win a pro title when he stopped Syd Vanderpool of Canada in the eighth round for the IBF super middleweight championship. And Kassim Ouma beat Verno Phillips to win the IBF 154-pound title.

Lacy, fighting for a title in only his 17th pro fight, was the bigger puncher but had trouble with Vanderpool's movement and counter punching in the early rounds of their fight for the vacant 168-pound title.

Lacy hurt Vanderpool with a right uppercut in the sixth round but was unable to put him down. In the eighth round, though, he unloaded a series of left uppercuts that staggered Vanderpool and then chased him across the ring throwing more punches.

Referee Robert Byrd moved in to stop the fight at 1:37 of the eighth round as Vanderpool was unable to defend himself.

"This was my Olympics tonight," Lacy said. "I got my gold medal."

Lacy (17-0, 14 knockouts) lost in the first round of the Sydney Olympics but hasn't lost in his pro career. Still, he was taking a step up in class against Vanderpool (35-3), who had the edge in experience.

"A lot of people expect a lot out of me," Lacy said. "I just want to make everybody happy."

Vanderpool said he thought he would survive the round and eventually wear Lacy down.

"Lacy was throwing everything he had and was getting tired," Vanderpool said. "The referee decided I'd had enough. It got stopped. What can I say?"

In another title fight, Ouma outworked Phillips to take the IBF 154-pound belt with a unanimous 12-round decision.

Ouma, a Ugandan who lives in Florida, was sharper and threw more punches than Phillips and seemed to wear him down as the fight went on. In the 11th round, Ouma rocked Phillips with punches, nearly dropping him, and Phillips struggled to hang on the final round.

Ouma, who also beat Phillips three years ago, improved to 20-1-1, while Phillips, of Denver, fell to 38-9-1.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press