Sultan Ibragimov (22-0-1, 17KOs) retained his WBO heavyweight title with a tactical unanimous decision over Evander Holyfield (42-9-2, 27KOs) at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow, Russia.
The scores were 118-110, 117-111, 117-111, all for Ibragimov.
After the fight, Holyfield, turning 45-years-old in a few days, said that he will continue to fight.
The first round was cautious with both fighters working the jab and picking their shots. The champion showed a lot of respect by keeping a lot of distance between him and Holyfield for the entire fight and allowing Holyfield to take the lead.
Ibragimov suffered an abrasion on his nose from a flush Holyfield right hand, but it was never a factor in the fight. During the second, Ibragimov began to target the body and test the stamina of the older challenger by stepping up the pace and making him fight.
Holyfield came out as the aggressor in the third by taking the fight to Ibragimov, who got off with the better punches by countering with his quicker hands. After the third, Holyfield was economical with his punches, fighting in small spurts, while Ibragimov was busier by throwing more punches.
In the sixth, Ibragimov buckled the legs of Holyfield with hard counter lefts that were too quick for Holyfield to avoid.
Holyfield, possessing one of the best chins in the heavyweight divisions, took the punches well and retaliated.
More of the same in the seventh as Ibragimov continued to find a home with a hard left hand that pushed Holyfield back.
Sensing the fight slipping away, Holyfield started to take some chances by brawling with Ibragimov in the eight, but he was still being outlanded.
In the tenth, Ibragimov hurt Holyfield with a left hand to the body and began to unload combinations as the pro-Ibragimov crowd stood on their feet.
Holyfield rallied at the end of the round by bulling forward with his own combinations.
A crushing right hand to the temple stunned Ibragimov in the twelfth and final round.
Holyfield began to press the attack with hard rights that caused Ibragimov to hold on and run the clock, knowing that he was up on points and occasionally countering with the left to keep Holyfield at bay.