On this day: Evander Holyfield gifted record fourth heavyweight title, John Ruiz cries foul
“The Real Deal” was no longer real.
On August 12, 2000, Evander Holyfield claimed a hotly disputed 12-round unanimous decision over John Ruiz to win the vacant WBA heavyweight title at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. The official scores were 116-112, 114-113 and 114-113.
Holyfield’s victory secured his status as boxing’s first ever four-time heavyweight champion. However, Muhammad Ali remains the only fighter to capture the lineal championship on three occasions.
And there were other reasons why this accomplishment was marred.
The WBA title had been stripped from Lennox Lewis for refusing to face Ruiz. Lewis viewed that fight as a mismatch and opted to take on unbeaten American Michael Grant instead. Also, Lewis had defeated Holyfield in November 1999 for the undisputed championship.
But it was the fight itself that rang alarm bells if you were a fan of boxing’s Holy Warrior.
Three or four years earlier, Ruiz would have been angel cake for a champion of Holyfield’s quality. However, he was consistently beaten to the punch and outhustled by a fighter who was levels beneath him.
There was one moment of brilliance from Holyfield when he nailed his man with a perfect right hand in Round 3 but the follow-up attack wasn’t good enough.
“It was highway robbery without a gun,” Ruiz said afterwards. “I won the fight and he knows I won the fight.
“I am very surprised by the judges’ decision. I don’t know what fight they saw. It could have been one of the fights before this. I don’t know what was on their mind.”
Ruiz avenged this defeat in March 2000 and the trilogy concluded nine months later with a dull draw.