ZURICH, Switzerland – There was plenty of delusional thought in Zurich on Saturday night, but the traditional heated Christmas wine was not to blame.
In the middle of a wave of confusion and nonsense, Evander Holyfield, a living legend who now hears only what he wants to as he attempts to justify delaying retirement.
Holyfield, a 46-year-old who seems much older, took his career loss tally to 10 – a figure he should never have come close to – when he lost on points to WBA heavyweight champ Nikolai Valuev.
That statistic alone should be enough for him to call it quits. Sadly though, it won't, as a number of factors will convince him to carry on.
Holyfield's mistaken belief that he won a lackluster fight was fuelled by a noisy and star-struck crowd, his own corner and by numerous backslapping acolytes keen to curry favor with the man who tamed Tyson.
The judges' scorecards read 116-112, and 115-114 for Valuev and a 114-114 draw.
Yahoo! Sports scored it 116-112 for Valuev, primarily on account of Holyfield's remorseless reluctance to throw leather in the second half of the contest.
"I never doubt myself and I have a history of proving people wrong," said Holyfield. "I put in another pretty good performance. I feel I won the fight. I want to fight on, and I want to fight for titles."
Holyfield did not deserve this title shot and he does not deserve another one, even in this era of heavyweight mediocrity. Already, however, inevitably there is talk of a rematch at the Hallenstadion next year.
But it was not just Holyfield who was guilty of purveying nonsense. Fight promoter Sauerland Events billed this as a clash of titans instead of the sluggish borefest it was always destined to be.
They stuck to the script afterwards, trying to convince the public and the media and maybe themselves that the division's elite had been on display.
Valuev didn't take too many heavy shots during the bout, yet he too appeared to be suffering from some confusion when he described proceedings as having been "high-tempo."
Even watching in fast forward, few would lend it that particular description.
There is some novelty value about the 7-foot-tall Russian but in its current sickened state the division needs superstars, not circus acts.
Unwittingly or not, Valuev will continue to poison the heavyweight scene for as long as he fights meaningless bouts instead of doing the right thing and taking on a Klitschko.
Wladimir Klitschko has already set his sights on Valuev's WBA belt.
Instead, though, it is more likely that the Beast from the East will attempt to avenge his loss to Ruslan Chagaev and offer Holyfield a rematch rather than risk embarrassment.
Who would have thought such a huge man would need such protection?
If Valuev is satisfied for his only role among the heavyweights to be as a bad guy, then he is going the right way about it. They didn't like him in Zurich, where Holyfield was treated as the crowd favorite with his name chanted constantly throughout the fight.
The American gave his supporters some early excitement, dancing skillfully and slipping in some nice combinations as the lumbering Valuev offered nothing.
However, age began to catch up with Holyfield as the fight wore on, and by opening up and starting to throw some right hands, Valuev totally dominated the closing rounds.
Boos and jeers greeted the decision. But they were surely spawned more from Holyfield's past achievements than any genuine angry sentiment.
Hopefully the mild swirl of controversy does not ultimately provide fodder for a re-construction of a fight that did nothing for boxing.
Zurich is a lovely place, especially at Christmastime.
The right place for a title fight? Why not?
But wine or no wine, not this fight, not again.
- Evander Holyfield
- Nikolai Valuev