Top-rated heavyweight Gerrie Coetzee withstood a late comeback yesterday by undefeated Pinklon Thomas but had to settle for a 10-round draw in Atlantic City.
Coetzee, bleeding heavily from his left eye, was rocked in the last three rounds but used a left uppercut to keep Thomas away.
"I actually feel good," said Coetzee. "I fought a tough guy. If I fight him again, I should do better."
Judge Frank Brunette scored it 5-5 in rounds, Richard Murry had it 4-4-2 and Paul Cavaliere 5-4-1 in Coetzee's favor.
The draw does not affect Coetzee's position as the World Boxing Association's No. 1 contender. Thomas is ranked seventh by both the WBA and the World Boxing Council.
Coetzee, who moved to Brigantine, N.J., from South Africa last year, is 28-3-1 with 16 knockouts. Thomas, of Philadelphia, is 20-0-1 with 17 knockouts. Coetzee weighed 221 3/4 and Thomas was 211 1/2.
Coetzee took the early rounds, using a chopping right hand that caused Thomas' left eye to swell in the second round. Thomas, a converted southpaw, was the quicker of the two, and he used a stiff left jab.
"He hit me with a few right hands, but it wasn't that deadly punch I've seen him put guys down with," said Thomas.
It was the first fight for both boxers since their original bout was canceled last Oct. 30 due to injuries.