Boxing: Holyfield's record attempt denied by limited skills of Ibragimov

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The Independent Online

Evander Holyfield failed in his attempt to win the world heavyweight title for a record fifth time in Moscow on Saturday night, but he insists that there is more to come and he refuses, at 44, to retire.

Holyfield was easily out pointed by Sultan Ibragimov for the World Boxing Organisation heavyweight belt in a fight that appeared to thrill the Muscovites, but probably did very little to raise the fallen stock of a heavyweight division that has turned increasingly farcical.

The veteran from Atlanta first won a version of the heavyweight title 17 years ago, but he entered the ring on Saturday night as a credible challenger and arguably the best-known active heavyweight in a division that has not recovered from the retirement of Lennox Lewis and the miserable excesses of Mike Tyson.

Ibragimov is nearly 14 years younger than Holyfield, but is clearly yet to discover the dedication necessary to extend a heavyweight fighter's career because on Saturday night he looked ponderous and often hesitant. Holyfield has made a habit, a very lucrative habit, of defying the form book and concocting a plan that leaves less experienced fighters bemused, but on Saturday he was simply too predictable and slow for a very average defending champion.

Once the punches had stopped and the lively and satisfied crowd had left the Ice Palace, Holyfield predictably grabbed the microphone and uttered the phrase he has been using for about the last 10 years: "I will fight on."

In the present climate, which often leads to fighters of limited skills with awful records receiving a call-up for a world heavyweight title fight, there is every chance that, during the next six months or so, Holyfield will once again venture into the slipstream of another anonymous world champion.

"I lost this one, but I will sit down and watch the tape and see what I did wrong," said Holyfield, who was having his 53rd fight and is surely one of boxing's greatest fighters. "Now I will just have to get back in line and wait for another chance."