WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. – It wasn't the fight anyone the Greenbrier Resort expected Saturday night, especially Evander Holyfield and Sherman Williams.
The 48-year-old Holyfield (43-10-2) was cut in the second round when Williams' head made contact just above Holyfield's left eye. The four-time heavyweight champion came out for the third round, and Williams (34-11-2) staggered him with several overhand punches. Before the fourth round could, the start the fight was stopped and rule a no-contest. Holyfield didn't protest the decision.
"(Williams) fought the way he should have," Holyfield said. "I understood what he was doing. He was trying to get his head low to stand me up and open me up."
Holyfield said Williams received several warnings about leading with his head in the fight, which was originally scheduled for Detroit's Joe Louis Arena on Dec. 9 but was moved to the posh resort in the West Virginia hills.
"He was warned several times in that short amount of time. He didn't have to (use his head)."
Holyfield still hopes to unify the heavyweight championships.
"I'll just have to make an adjustment," Holyfield said. "I've had 11 setbacks (counting Saturday's no-contest) but I don't quit. I'll shake it off and I'll be back."
Holyfield mentioned the possibility of a rematch with Williams after the bout.
Holyfield landed the first big punch of the fight, a straight left to Williams' face in the first, but was countered soon after and flustered near the end of the round by a flurry of Williams' blows.
The capacity crowd rose to its feet in the third round when Williams resumed his attack. Holyfield staggered into the ropes and nearly went to the canvas, but was able to regain his balance.
Holyfield again faced a series of punches from Williams to end the third, and appeared almost relived when the fight was stopped.
Holyfield's next scheduled fight is in Denmark on March 5 against Brian Neilsen. That bout is now in jeopardy while the former undisputed cruiserweight champion takes time to let the gash above his eye heal.
"There's a good chance (the fight in Denmark does not happen)," Holyfield said.
After the fight, 38-year-old Williams, who hadn't fought since a late 2009 unanimous-decision loss to Manuel Charr, said he would be open to taking Holyfield's spot in Denmark.