STATELINE, Nev. (AP) - Mike Tyson bit, Henry Akinwande held. And for the second time in two weeks, heavyweight boxing took a big hit.
Three days after Tyson was banned from boxing for biting Evander Holyfield, Akinwande was disqualified in the fifth round Saturday for holding Lennox Lewis in their WBC heavyweight title fight.
Any chance for boxing to regain momentum in the wake of the Tyson debacle was lost before a disgruntled crowd that watched Akinwande spend almost the entire fight with his arms wrapped around the WBC champion before referee Mills Lane stopped the fight at 2:34 of the fifth round.
"The first guy wanted to cry in the ring, the second one only wanted to hold," said Lewis, who won the WBC title five months ago when Oliver McCall broke down crying in the ring.
The same Nevada boxing officials who revoked Tyson's license suspended Akinwande after the fight and ordered his purse withheld pending a hearing. Under a state law that went into effect only Friday, Akinwande could lose his entire $1 million purse if disciplined by the state boxing commission.
"This is a different ball game (from Tyson)," Nevada commission chairman Dr. Elias Ghanem said. "The commission will have to decide what to do."
Commission executive director Marc Ratner said a hearing would be set, probably next week, to begin possible disciplinary proceedings against Akinwande.
"I could just see everything happening all over again," Ratner said. "But boxing is the most resilient sport there is. It will come back."
Lane, who drew cheers from the crowd of about 2,000 in the Caesars Tahoe showroom for his work in disqualifying Tyson, found himself forced to do the same thing to Akinwande when the fighter ignored repeated commands to stop holding.
Akinwande was penalized a point in the second round and Lane stopped the fight in the third, fourth and fifth rounds before finally calling it to an end.
"I did the best I could to let the fight go on, but the time comes when enough is enough and that was enough," Lane said.
Akinwande, who had never lost before, was penalized for holding in the second round but continued to hang onto Lewis every time the champion tried to punch.
As early as the second round, Lane warned Akinwande that he had to fight or the bout would be stopped. Still, he continued to hold, wrapping long arms around Lewis at every opportunity.
"You got to fight or I'm going to chase you," Lane told Akinwande in the second round.
When Akinwande did throw a punch, the former WBO champion did well. He hit Lewis in the third round with a right hand that made Lewis stumble and that Lane said later should have been a knockdown.
But he threw only 107 punches, landing 30, while Lewis landed 87 of 174.
"He obviously didn't want to fight. All he wanted to do was hold," Lewis said. "What can you do with a guy who isn't going to fight."
Promoter Dino Duva said Lane did the right thing in a fight that did nothing to bring back credibility to the sport in the wake of the Tyson debacle.
"I'm ashamed and I'm sorry to say this sport is in trouble," Duva said. "Maybe it (the new boxing rule) will prevent this stuff from happening anymore in the future."
It was another strange ending to a heavyweight title fight, and the second time in a row that Lewis won because an opponent simply didn't fight.
Lewis won the vacant WBC title Feb. 7 when McCall broke down crying in the ring and stopped defending himself.
"I feel sorry for the fans, I wanted to go in there and fight," Lewis said. "I wanted to show the fans here that Lennox Lewis wanted to fight."
What had promised to be a good fight between two tall heavyweights quickly turned into a wrestling match as Akinwande tied up Lewis every time he tried to punch.
Even Akinwande's trainer, Don Turner, pleaded with his fighter not to hold after Lane called yet another timeout in the fifth round.
"All you got to do is fight the man," Turner said.
Lane, who spent much of the fight locked between the two big men, trying to separate them, finally lost patience after yet another clinch in the fifth round.
"I didn't think I was holding, I was trying to fight inside," Akinwande said. "I wanted to get inside but he didn't want to back up."
Lewis, 31-1, was making his first title defense, one the British fighter said needed to look impressive in order to get some big-money fights.
Lewis tried, coming out strong from the opening bell, banging away at Akinwande whenever his hands were free. Even when Akinwande was holding, Lewis would hit him in the body.
"I wish he could have fought so I could show more of my talents," Lewis said. "Akinwande can't hit hard, he wanted to hug all night."
Akinwande, who is 6-foot-7 with a reach of 86 inches, didn't use the reach at all except to wrap his arms around Lewis.
He lost all four rounds on two scorecards, and was penalized a point in the second round.
Lewis, 242, earned $1.5 million. Akinwande, 2371/2 , fell to 32-1-1.
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us