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16 years ago

Sultan Ibragimov vs Evander Holyfield

Sultan Ibragimov vs Evander Holyfield

Date: 13th October 2007

Venue: Khodynka Ice Palace, Moscow, Russia

Title: WBO World Heavyweight Title

Promoter: Yury Fedorov


Sultan Ibragimov
( 21 - 0 - 1 )
Weight: 219 lbs

Evander Holyfield
( 42 - 8 - 2 )
Weight: 211½ lbs

Sultan Ibragimov's unanimous decision victory over Evander Holyfield on October 13, 2007, at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia, represented a significant moment in the heavyweight boxing division. Ibragimov successfully defended his World Boxing Organization (WBO) Heavyweight Title, marking his first defence since winning the belt. This bout was noteworthy for several reasons, including its location in Moscow, showcasing a growing interest in hosting major boxing events outside traditional Western venues.

Ibragimov's strategy focused on speed and avoiding Holyfield's power punches. He outmanoeuvred the veteran to land 139 of 348 punches (40%), compared to Holyfield's 58 of 302 (20%). This tactical approach allowed Ibragimov to control the fight, landing more power shots in every round except for the eleventh, which was even. Holyfield, a legend in the sport, found it challenging to connect with significant punches, able to land up to six punches per round throughout the contest.

The fight's outcome, with judges scoring it 117-111, 118-110, and 117-111 in favour of Ibragimov, underscored the champion's dominance and strategic execution. Despite Holyfield's efforts to engage and press the action, Ibragimov's movement and counterpunching ability proved too much for the former champion.

Jeff Mayweather, part of Ibragimov's team, praised the champion's performance, highlighting his decision to prioritise winning rounds over seeking a knockout. Reflecting on the fight, Holyfield acknowledged Ibragimov's bright fighting style and difficulties in landing combinations due to the champion's effective positioning and movement.

Originally, Ibragimov was scheduled to face WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev in a title unification bout, but the highly anticipated matchup was cancelled due to Chagaev's health issues. Holyfield stepped in as a replacement, allowing Ibragimov to defend his title against a legendary opponent. Despite the change in opponents, the fight attracted significant attention, with an estimated 50 million viewers worldwide, including 7.5 million in Russia.

The event's financial aspects were notable, with a $6.5 million purse bid winning the rights for the fight and approximately 75,000 PPV buys in the United States, generating around $2.6 million in revenue. The fight's significance was further amplified by the attendance of an eager Russian audience, witnessing a central heavyweight title defence on their soil.

For Holyfield, the fight represented another chapter in his storied career, continuing his pursuit of regaining a heavyweight title. Despite the loss, Holyfield's ambition to become undisputed champion remained undeterred. For Ibragimov, the victory solidified his status as a world champion. As the heavyweight division evolved, it opened up potential high-profile matchups, including possible bouts with Lennox Lewis or Mike Tyson.

This bout, while not ending in the dramatic fashion many heavyweight fights are remembered for, highlighted the tactical aspect of boxing and the importance of adaptability and strategy in securing victory at the highest levels of the sport.

Sultan Ibragimov vs Evander Holyfield on YouTube

Sultan Ibragimov vs Evander Holyfield

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