Boxing: Judge admits errors

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EUGENIA WILLIAMS denied all bribery allegations at a hearing in New York on Thursday - but admitted she would now rate last weekend's fight between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield a draw, after watching a videotape.

Lewis landed two-and-a-half times more punches than his smaller opponent, using height and reach advantages to score while keeping Holyfield at bay. Williams, one of three judges, rated Holyfield a 115-113 winner in the world heavyweight unification contest at Madison Square Garden in New York, helping the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation title holder to a controversial draw with Lewis, the World Boxing Council champion.

After watching a video of the fight, Williams, a boxing judge for 10 years, who was declared bankrupt six weeks ago, said she would have given the fifth round to Lewis rather than to Holyfield, which would have left her final scorecard reading 114-114.

"I scored what I saw when I saw it," Williams told the New York State Senate Committee on Investigations, Taxation and Government Operations. "What I saw that night is not what the cameras saw. They were at a different angle."

In her testimony, Williams answered "absolutely not" to suggestions that she had been influenced by any factors outside of the ring. Lewis landed 43 punches to 11 from Holyfield in the fifth round but Williams said Lewis's back obscured her view for most of the round. She also blamed photographers at ringside for blocking her view as well, saying she pushed several out of her way.

Don King testified to the same committee that he did not influence the outcome of the fight, and said he felt unfairly blamed: "I have nothing to do with the selection of judges or the outcome of the event. Perception is reality. If you look at the perception, I'm to blame for the Johnstown flood, World War II, for the San Francisco fire.".

The WBC president, Jose Sulaiman, yesterday repeated the call for a rematch. "The WBC Supreme Council has decided that our appeal for a rematch should be repeated," he said. "Further, to avoid any claim that the WBC has any economic interest in the rematch, it will take its sanction fees but immediately donate them to boxing charities.

"Part of the fee will be placed with the Brain Injury Research Programme at the University of California at Los Angeles, with the rest going to a fund to provide medical support for retired boxers."

Larry O'Connell, who scored the fight a draw, will be back at work at the Royal Albert Hall on 3 April. O'Connell will referee the British light-middleweight title bout between Ensley Bingham and Nicky Thurbin on the Frank Warren promotion.

In Maryland, Mike Tyson could be released from jail as early as next Friday if his lawyer's proposal is accepted. Judge Stephen Johnson will give a ruling on a request to reduce Tyson's one-year sentence for assault to eight months.

If he were to rule favourably, the 50 days that Tyson will have served by next week would make him eligible for a work-release programme, to be followed by home detention.