1980sABCBoxingCruiserweight Title FightsDwight Braxton Muhammad QawiEvander HolyfieldLight Heavyweight ChampionsLight Heavywt ChampionshipsWide World of Sports

Boxing – WBC Junior Heavyweight Title – Champ Dwight Muhammad Qawi VS Evander Holyfield


The simple sentence on the T-shirt that Evander Holyfield wore Friday before his lightweight title fight with Dwight Muhammad Qawi read: ”I’m going to win!”….and that is what he did when he entered the ring at The Omni in his hometown of Atlanta….when he won the World Boxing Association junior-heavyweight title from the champion, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, winning a bruising 15-round split decision.

In victory, Holyfield became the first of the United States boxing medalists from the 1984 Olympics to capture a world title…..by matching the persistence and firepower of the more experienced champion. Repeatedly fighting at close quarters, Holyfield would step suddenly to one side of Qawi and nail him with flurries that sometime sent a fine mist of sweat shooting off Qawi’s head. For his part, Qawi, formerly known as Dwight Braxton, would shake off the punches and continue to pressure Holyfield….often pounding him with body shots or looping punches to the head…..but spurred by the crowd chanting ”Holy, Holy, Holy,”….the 23-year-old Holyfield outpunched the game Qawi in the end.

Judge Harold Lederman (144-140) and Judge Neffie Quintana (147-138) scored it for Holyfield. The other judge, Gordon Volkman, in a verdict that was soundly booed. had it 143-141 for the 33-year-old Qawi.  ”It wasn’t easy,” said Holyfield. ”He was tough like I expected….as I did everything I could….but Qawi kept pressing. I felt he’d get tired by the sixth or seventh round….but he didn’t….so I had to put out, put out, put out.”

Both fighters put out….after one man would unleash a flurry of damaging punches….the other would take his turn and let fly….but Holyfield’s jab was stiff enough and busy enough to keep Qawi at bay more often than not. A computer count of the punches had Holyfield throwing 1,290 (629 of them registering effectively, according to the computer). Qawi’s punch count, according to the computer, was 1,018 thrown with 562 landing effectively….with no knockdowns.  Qawi’s mouth was bloodied in the 13th round….but Holyfield was unmarked afterward.

The biggest doubt about Holyfield was whether with only 11 pro fights…..with the longest lasting 8 rounds….could he go the 15 rounds. He answered that question by coming on strong over the second half of the bout….as judge Quintana gave him 9 of the last 10 rounds to Holyfield calling one round even….and judge Lederman scored 7 of the last 10 rounds for the new champion and called one of those even.  Holyfield attributed his endurance to a conditioning program he undertook with the guidance of a Houston fitness specialist, Tim Hallmark. The regimen included the use of treadmills, stationary bicycles and an apparatus that simulated the act of climbing. ”For each and every fight in the future,” said Holyfield, ”I’ll be going back to Houston to get in shape.”

For beating Qawi, he reportedly earned $100,000. Mark Breland, Tyrell Biggs, Meldrick Taylor and Pernell Whitaker, some of his Olympic teammates, were at ringside, rooting him on.  With the victory, Holyfield’s record went to 12-0 with 8 knockouts….and Qawi’s record is 26-3-1, with 15 knockouts…..but any way you cut the pie….this was a really great split-decision fight between one super great boxer (Holyfield) and one great boxer of the golden age of boxing from 1964 – 1995.

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