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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Holds Onto Heavyweight Crown

APSultan Ibragimov landing a blow against Evander Holyfield in their heavyweight title fight in Moscow on Saturday.
Evander Holyfield's quest for a fifth heavyweight title ran into a roadblock Saturday: Russia's Sultan Ibragimov.

Ibragimov kept his WBO title with a unanimous decision over Holyfield, who turns 45 next week and was trying to become the second-oldest heavyweight champion.

Fighting before a home crowd at the sparsely attended Khodynka Ice Palace, Ibragimov improved his record to 22 wins and one draw with a slick, counter-punching display. Holyfield dropped to 42-9 with two draws.

The judges scored the 12-round fight, which had no knockdowns, 118-110, 117-111 and 117-111.

Holyfield said he planned to continue fighting. "It was a great fight. He got the decision and I have to go back to the drawing board," he said.

But others have urged him to end his career.

"Its time for Evander to quit," prominent boxing trainer Freddie Roach said after the fight. "He's got nothing left to prove. I'd hate to see him end up being hurt. He's got a lot of money, but what's that worth if you can't count it?"

Ibragimov, 32, will now try and unify a fractured division. The other heavyweight titles are held by Wladimir Klitschko (IBF), Ruslan Chagaev (WBA) and recently declared champion Samuel Peter (WBC).

George Foreman became the oldest heavyweight champ at 45 years and 300 days when he knocked out Michael Moorer to win the WBA and IBF titles in 1994.

This was Holyfield's 23rd title bout in a 20-year heavyweight career. In title fights, he beat James "Buster" Douglas (IBF, WBA and WBC) in 1990, Mike Tyson (WBA) in 1996, Moorer (IBF) in 1997 and John Ruiz (WBA) in 2000.

Holyfield needed a knockout as the last round started. But on the odd occasion that he trapped Ibragimov on the ropes to throw left and right hooks, the Russian was able to tie him up in a clinch and force the referee's intervention.

A round earlier, Holyfield slipped as he threw a wild haymaker, with the referee ruling no knockdown. Ibragimov stayed out of trouble, dancing in and out to land isolated jabs as Holyfield followed him.

The fight began with both fighters feeling each other out, and Holyfield appearing happy to tie up Ibragimov and negate his superior hand speed. Holyfield also seemed to accidentally butt Ibragimov on the nose.

In the next round, Holyfield rocked Ibragimov with a heavy right and caught him with a glancing left hook. The two fighters exchanged stares and words at the bell.

Ibragimov clearly took the third, despite Holyfield being the early aggressor. Fighting off his back foot, the Russian nonetheless looked to unleash his left hook. Meanwhile, Holyfield tracked Ibragimov around the ring trying to land his right.

Ibragimov took more initiative in the fifth, and landed the cleaner punches, although he got caught with a straight right, left hook combination. Trainer Jeff Mayweather attended to the Russian's nose after the bell.

Ibragimov's snaking jab allowed him to circle the ring and fight on the outside, while Holyfield, attempting to get closer, took a couple of straight lefts to the chin.

In the seventh, Holyfield's legs buckled after he caught a punch on the chin. But he came back with a flurry of blows before Ibragimov landed a wild right hook to take the round comfortably.

Ibragimov's faster hands and feet kept him ahead on the scorecards. But his chin did well to withstand an overhand right from Holyfield, and his compact, southpaw combinations helped him recover his poise.

A succession of left rips to the body staggered Holyfield in the 10th round and brought the crowd to its feet. Holyfield crumpled as Ibragimov chased him round the ring, snapping a couple of jabs to his face. But Holyfield recovered late in the round to land a left-right-left combination of his own.