Holyfield was originally scheduled for a $30 million payday to fight top-ranked Mike Tyson who withdrew because of a rib injury. The original replacement was Francesco Damiani who was also injured in training. Thus, Cooper was a short-notice replacement's replacement.
The fight was not recognized by the World Boxing Council as a title fight due to Cooper not being in their rankings. He did, however, come in ranked #12 by the International Boxing Federation.
Bert Cooper surprised the boxing world with a gritty effort.
Holyfield scored the first knockdown of the fight against Cooper with a powerful shot to the body but Cooper returned the favor with a hard sneaky right hand and ensuing combination that sent Holyfield falling against the ropes. Although Holyfield's body didn't touch the canvas. it was correctly ruled a knockdown and referee Mills Lane gave Holyfield a standing 8-count. After suffering the first knockdown of his professional career, Holyfield regained his composure and belted Cooper for the remainder of the round while enduring more strong right hands from Cooper.
Holyfield and Cooper traded brutal power shots in the ensuing rounds with Holyfield getting the better of the challenger. The fight was culminated by repeated vicious uppercuts that snapped Cooper's head back. Referee Mills Lane was forced to stop the fight in the 7th to prevent Cooper from enduring further brutality.
Holyfield scored a total of 43 right uppercuts to the chin, in Round 3 and Rounds 5-7.
58-54 | 59-54 | 59-53 - Holyfield
Cooper down in Round 1 Holyfield down in Round 3
Holyfield out-landed Cooper 188-104
Holyfield landed 49% of his punches to Cooper's 38%
Holyfield - $6 Million USD; Cooper $750,000 USD
Evander Holyfield vs. Bert Cooper (Highlights) 1991 Undisputed Heavyweight Championship