“Battle for Supremacy” or a circus act?
Interview by Benny Henderson Jr.- Photos © Marty Rosengarten-HoganPhotos.com (November 15, 2004)  
Photos © Marty Rosengarten HoganPhotos.com
What a night for a heavyweight showdown, what a night for boxing, and what a night for your average outspoken, crazy-eyed, biker-looking foul-mouthed trainer. Yeah, that is what I @*#^+!% said! Man, that sounded so much like John Ruiz’s trainer Norman Stone it ain’t even funny, and that was just how referee Randy Neumann felt when he ejected the foul-mouthed crusader at the end of the eighth round of the John Ruiz-Andrew Golota WBA heavyweight championship showdown at the Mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden, in New York City this past weekend. A crowd of 12,777 was on hand at the Garden along with the multitude of pay-per-view subscribers to witness Don King’s “Battle for Supremacy” that turned out to be a battle for… well, something. The four bouts that were televised on the PPV event was your normal Don King affair; you had your sleeper, your keeper and your what-the-hell-was-that all rolled up into one. Let’s break them down.

“I still believe!”
Evander Holyfield-Larry Donald
Vacant NABC heavyweight title

Has there ever been a moment in your life when you just looked around and felt that your time had come and gone? Well that doesn’t seem to be the case with former four-time heavyweight champion Evander “I can’t come to grips with reality” Holyfield. And a chance at being a five-time champion goes down the drain with yet another heart breaking loss. The forty-two year old fight worn Holyfield said after his twelve round loss by decision to Larry Donald “I did my best, I bit off more than I can chew.” What a comment coming from a guy who has wins over Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, and Larry Holmes and undoubtedly has one of the biggest hearts in heavyweight history. The sad irony now is that it is his very heart that has been the downfall of the fallen 'Warrior'. The former undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight champion landed just seventy-eight punches throughout the entire twelve round fiasco. Holyfield looked old and slow and took some thunderous shots form Larry Donald, who seemed to hit his target at will. He beat Holyfield to every punch and was awarded the decision by scores of 119-109 twice and 118-109. All I can say is, please Evander, stop before you get hurt; you have heart and heart is all you have left. For the fans and your family, call it day.

“One more go around”
Hasim Rahman-Kali Meehan
IBF heavyweight eliminator

After not beating a legit contender since 2001 when he upset Lennox Lewis with a Hail Mary right hand in Carnival City, South Africa, the dry spell for has ended for Hasim Rahman. In a ten round IBF eliminator, the new and improved trimmed down version Rahman needed just four rounds to destroy Kali Meehan in a fight that seemed doomed for affable Aussie from the beginning of round one. From the get-go it was clear that Rahman was on a mission to prove to the boxing world that this time around he is ready, willing and able to take on the heavyweight division. Meehan, who clearly had a great showing against Lamon Brewster last September, was out boxed, out punched and just plain dismantled by the former champ. Rahman said after the fight that he will fight whoever brings the most money and who seems to make the most sense. In a nutshell, this guy can still be dangerous if he keeps himself motivated.

“David versus Goliath”
Chris Byrd-Jameel McCline
IBF heavyweight championship

The 6’1 ½” IBF heavyweight champ Chris Byrd held on to his IBF title against the 6’6” mountain of a man Jameel McCline, who outweighed the champ by fifty-six pounds. In a fight that was as close as they are friends, Byrd and McCline pounded out a twelve round decision that ended with scores of 112-115,113-114, and 114-112, allowing Byrd to retain his title. McCline sent the limp Byrd to the canvas in the second round with a right hand but the champion dug in and found a way to make it to the end of the round. The two exchanged more throughout the bout and both had their moments, keeping it gentlemanly all the way through to the end. Byrd stayed on the ropes and absorbed some heavy shots from McCline, but in the eleventh he rocked the giant with McCline holding on while Byrd compiled more punches. In the end it was an overall good fight with the two boxers putting on an entertaining show for the fans.

“I’ll keep holding on”
John Ruiz-Andrew Golota
WBA heavyweight championship

In the headline bout of the mega-card – and one of the ugliest heavyweight fights in recent memory – the clinch-hold-hit and clinch again stylings of reigning WBA heavyweight champion John “I want to hold your hand” Ruiz helped him retain his belt once again against Andrew “Why can’t I win” Golota. The Polish puncher Golota dropped the thirty-two year old Puerto Rican twice in the second round and Ruiz was deducted one point for punching after the break in the fourth, but he still managed to hold on – and I stress hold on – to his title for one more go around. Golota seemed strong and level headed at times and even got away with numerous fouls of his own while the two traded punches along with dirty tactics, but in the end the judges scored the bout 114-111, 113-112, 114-111 in favor of Ruiz. All and all it was a bout that the fans could have done without as it was more along the lines of a toughman contest with two unorthodox fighters pounding, holding and roughing up one another while an unprofessional, sue happy, highly overactive, screaming, cussing, agitated trainer, put on his own show on the ring apron until he was dismissed from the arena at the end of the eighth round by referee Randy Neumann.

The "Battle for Supremacy" proved to be more of a circus act with the fans, trainers and boxers thumping out another $44.95 free-for-all brawl. What will be the future of the heavyweight division? Man, if I only knew.
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