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Articles of 2006

Boxing and the Law

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As Joe Mesi looks to make his comeback in sunny Puerto Rico, far from Buffalo’s bitter chill, he has found not only warm weather but a warm welcome which he probably would not get from his home state’s commission. There might be differing points of view on whether Mesi, who suffered three late knockdowns and bleeding on the brain in his 2004 battle with Vassiliy Jirov, should be allowed to fight again. But the fact that he can choose to avoid Nevada and New York – states that likely will not license Mesi because of the danger to his health and life – and instead find a soft commission that will allow him to enter a boxing ring highlights the need for reform in boxing.

Boxing needs a single set of safety standards to protect fighters, a single set of rules to protect the integrity of the sport, a single ratings body to determine champions and contenders and a single national commission to govern the sport.

Inside the ropes, boxing remains “the sport to which all other sports aspire,” to borrow George Foreman’s words. Pure. Elemental. Like the men inside the ring, stripped down to the bare essentials. Man against man, matching strength against strength, speed against speed, skill against skill, will against will.

But the purity of what takes place inside the ropes is too often tainted by what takes place just outside those ropes. Too often we see incompetent judges, negligent commissions and corrupt sanctioning bodies all making questionable decisions. When Dave Tiberi outworks James Toney over twelve rounds but is robbed by incompetent judges of the title he has earned in the ring, boxing suffers. When Brad Rone, overweight and with 26 straight losses under his belt, is denied a license to fight in Nevada and then dies in a boxing ring when he is permitted to fight in neighboring Utah, boxing suffers. When Zab Judah loses his championship in the ring but is allowed to retain his IBF belt, boxing suffers. When the rules are made up as you go along – like the card game in Bang the Drum Slowly – the legitimacy of the sport suffers. Because no matter how great the fight, when the best man doesn’t win, or when the winner doesn’t get the title he fought for, the sport is compromised. And when the sport loses its legitimacy, the fans turn away.

Long experience tells us that change will not come from within. The power brokers of the sport are not looking for change. Don King and Bob Arum are thriving on the status quo. The IBF and the WBC and the countless other sanctioning bodies, each with its own champions, continue to collect sanctioning fees. The state commissioners, many of them political appointees who enjoy their ringside seats and their government salaries but who have limited experience in boxing, do not want to lose their petty fiefdoms. And HBO and Showtime are more interested in their bottom lines than in using their powerful positions in the sport to correct boxing’s ills.

The boxers themselves, most coming from tough neighborhoods, most with limited opportunities, most fighting for close to nothing as they pursue their hard dreams, do not have the power to effect change.

Change must be imposed on boxing from the outside. It must be imposed by the law. Only the law has a chance of cleaning up “the red-light district of sports,” Jimmy Cannon’s label of half a century ago which remains an apt description today.

Senator John McCain and his colleagues in Congress are trying. But their efforts and the passage of two congressional bills in the past decade have done little to alter the way that boxing is run.

The Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 imposes on state commissions general rules regarding the health and safety of boxers, suspensions and conflicts of interest. But the rules are so vague that they are virtually meaningless. The Act requires that a physician certify whether a boxer is fit to safely compete, but fails to specify what medical tests, if any, a boxer must pass. It requires that health insurance be provided to each boxer to cover any injuries sustained in a bout, but fails to specify the amount of that coverage; as it stands, most state commissions require so little medical coverage that a boxer who requires surgery for a broken hand or jaw, not uncommon injuries in boxing, will find himself in debt, owing far more in medical bills than he has earned for the fight.

The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, passed by Congress in 2000, correctly identifies some of boxing’s problems but fails to provide meaningful or effective solutions. The Ali Act acknowledges that boxing, unlike other major professional sports, operates without any centralized authority “to establish uniform and appropriate business practices and ethical standards”; it acknowledges that unscrupulous promoters can take advantage of the lack of uniformity in the way boxing is run by bringing boxing events to states with weak commissions; it acknowledges that boxing’s sanctioning organizations have failed to establish “credible and objective criteria to rate professional boxers,” and that the ratings, because they are subject to manipulation, “have deprived boxers of fair opportunities for advancement, and have undermined public confidence in the integrity of the sport.” The Act attempts to address some of these ills with provisions intended to protect boxers from coercive promotional contracts, with its suggestion (yes, suggestion) that the sanctioning organizations adopt criteria to be developed by the Association of Boxing Commissions for rating boxers, and with rules requiring financial disclosure by sanctioning bodies, promoters, judges and referees. But while some managers and promoters have added clauses to their contracts saying that they must abide by the Ali Act, the 1996 and 2000 laws have had little practical effect on the way boxing is run and have done little to improve the lot of boxers.

The problem with the Professional Boxing Safety Act and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act is that they attempt to tinker with a system that needs an overhaul. These laws are half-measures at best, defined by their inherent contradictions. Even while raising questions about the ethical shortcomings of the sanctioning organizations, the Ali Act implicitly recognizes these same organizations’ legitimacy; it says, for example, that a promoter cannot require future options from a boxer who is fighting in “a mandatory bout under the rules of a sanctioning organization.” And while recognizing that professional boxing, alone among the major sports, “operates without any private sector association, league, or centralized industry organization,” and that weak state commissions are exploited by less-than-honest promoters, it nevertheless posits that state commissions are “the proper regulators of professional boxing events.”

Proposed legislation in the form of the Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2004 and then the Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2005 sought to rectify this latter problem by creating the United States Boxing Commission, a federal commission under the auspices of the Department of Commerce. But for two years running the legislation did not receive the necessary votes in Congress to become law, in part because a number of congressmen who received monies from promoters like King and Arum voted against the bills.

The Professional Boxing Amendments Act would have created the United States Boxing Commission, a national commission responsible for protecting “the health, safety, and general interests of boxers” and for ensuring “uniformity, fairness, and integrity in professional boxing.” Specifically, it would have been the job of the USBC to “promulgate uniform standards for professional boxing,” “oversee all professional boxing matches in the United States,” and “establish and maintain uniform minimum health and safety standards for professional boxing.” This would include the establishment of a medical registry which would maintain “comprehensive medical records and medical denials or suspensions for every professional boxer.” The creation of a central commission and of uniform standards would have been a positive step forward for boxing. If implemented successfully, it would have meant that boxing in the United States would have been run in large part by a single set of rules, it would have ended the practice of shopping for weak state commissions to hold certain fights, and it would have prevented a boxer denied a license in one state because he was not medically fit to compete from securing a license in a different state. In bringing some uniformity and consistency to the sport, the law would have brought a legitimacy to the business of boxing which is presently missing.

But the proposed law did not go far enough, and for that reason it may be a good thing that the bill did not garner the necessary votes. Even while it sought to create a new governing body for boxing, the United States Boxing Commission, it would have left in place existing organizations which we already know do not work.

Boxing guru Cus D’Amato famously said, “People who are born round don’t die square.” That goes for sanctioning organizations and state commissions as well. The sanctioning organizations have a long history of manipulating ratings, favoring promoters with whom they have a relationship (Don King comes quickly to mind), and putting greed far ahead of integrity – all of which add up to the boxer, the “exploited worker,” to borrow Jack Newfield’s description of the fighter in his penetrating piece “The Shame of Boxing,” getting less than fair treatment. So the law’s mandate that the Commission develop guidelines for rating fighters and that the sanctioning organizations follow these guidelines would leave in place exactly what is wrong with boxing. It would leave in place organizations like the IBF, which was exposed in a 2000 federal trial for its long-standing practice of accepting bribes to rig its ratings.  Despite the exposure of this rampant corruption and despite the appointment of a federal monitor who oversaw the IBF for several years, little has changed.

According to the IBF’s ratings criteria, which state that a boxer who beats a higher-ranked boxer “will take the position of the higher rated fighter,” Carlos Baldomir’s recent victory over IBF champion Zab Judah should have made him the new IBF champion. But the IBF, true to its corrupt form, chose to ignore its own published criteria and left Judah with its worthless title. Appropriately for an organization with no true standards, it has written into its rules that “all ratings criteria are subject to exception,” a catch-all that makes the rest of its rules meaningless.

Instead of perpetuating these alphabet soup organizations by recognizing them in the law, Congress should work to abolish the need for these organizations. Instead of legislating that “the Commission may not. . .rank professional boxers,” Congress should mandate the opposite, that a national commission not only develop guidelines for rating boxers but implement those guidelines as well. The hope is that the Commission’s rankings, “based on the athletic merits and professional records of the boxers”, to use language from the proposed law, and not based on the political and financial maneuverings of powerful promoters, would come to be accepted by the boxing community. And if that could happen – boxers ranked based on merit, a champion becoming a champion because he vanquished the previous champion in the ring – boxing would achieve a level of respect it has been missing for a long time.

Of course it will take more than Congress passing a law. It will take the cooperation of certain elements of the boxing community, and particularly the cooperation of the television commentators and boxing writers. If the commentators and writers recognize the legitimacy of a United States Boxing Commission champion, if they refuse to pay homage to corrupt sanctioning bodies, then the WBC and WBO and WBA belts will become worthless, and the organizations that hand out those belts will melt away like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Even if the sanctioning bodies could change their nature (and I believe, like Cus D’Amato, that they have neither the ability nor the willingness to change), even if they could apply purely objective criteria to their ratings, under the proposed law boxing would still be left with multiple champions in each weight division. And when the grand title of “world champion” doesn’t mean what it says, the title is diminished and the sport is diminished. The very idea of having multiple world champions seems to clash with the mission of the proposed United States Boxing Commission, which is to ensure “uniformity” and “fairness” and “integrity” in professional boxing.

The proposed law also fails because it leaves in place state and tribal boxing commissions. While the Professional Boxing Amendments Act would set minimum standards for local commissions to follow and in that way would bring a measure of uniformity to the sport, it would allow different state and tribal commissions to operate under different rules and would leave day-to-day operations, including the enforcement of these rules, to the presently existing local commissions. This too goes against the goal of uniformity in the way that boxing is run.

A sweeping indictment of all local commissions would not be proper. There exist commissions with appropriate medical standards in place, competent operations in place, and directors who care about boxing and care about its practitioners. Unfortunately there are too many commissions without the proper safeguards, too many commissions where rules are not followed and where boxers are not protected. Examples abound. I witnessed a weigh-in in Indianapolis where the two members of the Indiana commission who were “supervising” the weigh-in sat in folding chairs ten feet away from a bathroom scale and asked each fighter’s handler for the reading on the scale. In Utah, Brad Rone was allowed to fight with 26 straight losses coming into a July 2003 bout, even though a state rule mandated that, where a boxer has lost six consecutive fights (yes, twenty less than Rone’s streak), the commission must review those losses before allowing the boxer to enter the ring; typically, no review ever took place. Clearly, if rules are not enforced, they become worthless. And state commissions that have a proven record of misusing their discretion in deciding when and whether to enforce rules should not be entrusted with the enforcement of new rules. Congress has recognized the existence of weak commissions – indeed, this was one impetus for the proposed federal legislation – and would be wrong to now rely on these same commissions.

Perhaps what is needed are local branches of the United States Boxing Commission, branches which are overseen by the national commission. (Directors of state commissions who have demonstrated their competence could be placed at the head of these branches.) These local branches could employ a single set of rules throughout the country. And an enforcement division of the USBC could be responsible for making certain that local branches followed these rules. What is key is that a structure be established to bring real uniformity to boxing. Uniformity in the rules, uniformity in the rankings, uniformity in safety standards, uniformity in medical tests required for a boxer to be licensed, uniformity in standards for judges and referees, uniformity in the way fights are scored. And what is equally key is that competent, principled people be employed to create and to enforce these rules and standards, people who know boxing, who care about boxing and who care about the boxers who participate in the hardest game.

The government may not be well suited to the role of knight in shining armor, but the job of taking on the greed of the most powerful promoters, the corruption of sanctioning bodies and the incompetence of state commissions has not attracted any other candidates. Congress, having failed to pass the Professional Boxing Amendments Act, has another chance to get it right – to create the United States Boxing Commission, as already proposed, and to go further than the proposals of the last two years. It must establish uniform standards in boxing throughout the country and rid the sport of the sanctioning bodies.

Only the law can give boxing a fighting chance to be a respected sport. That way boxing fans can focus their attention on what matters – two men, inside the ropes, doing battle.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to allAfrica.com, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9

Featherweight

Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10

Flyweight

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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