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Boxing Judge Discusses Controversy

March 18, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ The judge at the center of the controversial Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield draw said Thursday that her view of the fight was obscured at times by photographers.

Testifying at a New York state Senate hearing, Eugenia Williams also said that after watching a tape of Saturday’s heavyweight unification fight, she would have scored it a draw, instead of 115-113 for Holyfield.

That scoring, however, would not have changed the ultimate outcome. If Williams had scored the fifth round for Lewis, her card would have been 114-114, and the decision would have been a majority draw.

Williams, of Atlantic City, N.J., appeared at the state Senate Committee on Investigations hearing and held fast in her belief that she had correctly judged the fight 115-113 for Holyfield.

Asked by state Sen. Roy Goodman if she had second thoughts about her opinion, Williams replied: ``No sir. I scored what I saw when I saw it.″

After watching a replay, Williams said she would have scored the fifth round for Lewis.

But she added, ``What I saw that night is not what the camera saw. They were at a differrent angle than I was. I only score the blows I see.″

Williams also said that during several rounds, including the fifth, her vision was sometimes blocked by ringside photographers whom she had to push aside.

Williams, a 10-year veteran of judging who works as a $39,200-a-year accounts clerk for Atlantic City, confirmed reports that she had filed for bankruptcy recently, but denied that there had been any attempt by anyone to help her financially in exchange for influencing her judgment.

``Absolutely not,″ she replied.

As the investigation got under way, a still furious Lewis returned home to London and demanded that ``everything should be looked into.″

He urged Holyfield to hand over the WBA and IBF titles.

``If Evander’s a man, he should admit that he got beat and give me my belts,″ the WBC champion said. ``But he’s not that kind of character.

``You could say that Evander Holyfield is holding my belts right now for me. They’re actually my belts, but he’s holding them.″

Separately, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau has convened a grand jury to issue subpoenas and gather testimony about Saturday’s unification bout. In addition, the New York state Athletic Commission also is investigating.

Of the other judges, South Africa’s Stan Christodoulou, scored the fight 116-113 for Lewis and Britain’s Larry O’Connell scored it 115-115. Most who watched the fight thought Lewis had clearly won.

IBF president Bob Lee, whose organization selected Williams, defended her work.

``I am sure they aren’t going to find anything irregular at all,″ he said. ``It is a subjective viewing of a fight and you can’t tell these judges what to see or what not to see. All I tell them is, `Do the best you can.‴

Lewis’ manager Frank Maloney said he didn’t believe bribes had been paid, but he questioned Williams’ competence.

``I don’t believe there was any illegal payment, they wouldn’t have been that stupid,″ Maloney said. ``They may not find money in her bank account, but there was definitely something wrong with her judging.″

Soon after touching down at London’s Heathrow Airport, Lewis maintained he had been the victim of a ``conspiracy″ and that the judges had been ``incompetent.″

``I think everything should be looked into,″ Lewis said. ``There was definitely something going on, some kind of conspiracy we don’t know about.

``In this particular fight the public got hurt as well ... I say Don King should apologize and definitely the judges.

``Next time I’m going to definitely bring my two judges, my own two judges,″ Lewis added.

Lewis, criticized for not being more aggressive _ particularly in the fifth when he had Holyfield on the ropes _ said going for the knockout would have been risky.

``In the fifth he wasn’t as hurt as I thought. I wasn’t satisfied I could go in there and feel safe,″ Lewis said. ``He was definitely playing possum and he admitted it on TV.

``But if I had realized it was going to be like that, I would have went out there ... and realized my only hope was a knockout and go after it.″

In Atlanta, Holyfield was quoted as saying he understood the judges’ decision perfectly.

``The judges said it was a draw. Realistically, he didn’t knock me out, and I didn’t knock him out. It’s all based on a decision,″ Holyfield told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Holyfield said Lewis didn’t do as well as some people said.

``Even with the punch stats, people say, `Well, this man hit you 600 times.′ But if he hit me that much, why didn’t I fall? How come I was never staggered or hurt? Obviously because a lot of times he was tapping me,″ he said in an interview published Thursday.

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