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Articles of 2006

A Father-Son Tale by the Byrds

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LAS VEGAS, March 30 – Let’s leave it to the theologians to discuss why, from God and Jesus to Abraham and Isaac, the bible is full of stories about fathers’ willingness to sacrifice their sons. In boxing, it probably is best left to the shrinks to figure out the patriarchs. All I know is that Jack Mesi must have some inner qualms when he leads his son Joe to the ring Saturday in Puerto Rico. It is my belief that this is a case of a father supporting his son’s calculated risk to live out his dream. Wish them well and, meanwhile, contemplate a fistic patriarch who may have sacrificed his own career for his son.

Papa Byrd wouldn’t have it any other way. Joe Byrd Sr. will leave in a couple of weeks with his son Chris for Mannheim, Germany, and their April 22 return match with Wladimir Klitschko. That Chris Byrd, the longest reigning of the four alphabet heavyweight champions, is even in this position is a remarkable testament to Papa Joe’s ability.

“He took a non-punching middleweight to the heavyweight title,” said Chris.

But in a business where success usually breeds imitation, Papa Byrd does not have a gym full of stars. Maybe it was being out of the way in Flint, Mich. Maybe in Brockton, Mass., Goody Petronelli has waited and waited for another Marvelous Marvin Hagler to walk into his gym, but Joe Byrd is content to be training elementary school kids back in Flint. He left maybe 15 kids, including a few seniors (there’s a heavyweight named Jovin Carr he said who just turned 18 and he advised remembering the name, though he wasn’t sure how to spell it) back in Flint, under the care of Momma Byrd. His wife, Rose, was the only trainer Joe Byrd says he ever had back when he was fighting. She will join her husband and son at the U.S. Army base near Mannheim a few days before the fight and, as usual, work the corner.

You’d think this Momma and Papa operation would have expanded by now. Papa Byrd was not exactly unknown in the business before the youngest of his eight children went on to heavyweight fame. He was the head coach of the 1992 Olympic team that, hindered by the new computerized scoring rules, was held to one gold medal – Oscar De La Hoya’s – but which produced six future world champions, including Chris.

He’s had a couple of guys pass through. For a while, he was Paul Vaden’s trainer. And Tim Littles’. He actually worked with Floyd Mayweather Sr. for a year (“He got shot or stabbed, I think, but he was one of the best ‘til his son came around”).

“I could’ve built a stable of pros, but I have a family of eight,” Byrd Sr. said. “I was making good money at GM, and I had my own team.”

And he had the little kids in the basement of a Flint elementary school, where he began his training career, teaching discipline more than double-hooks. Chris, who has moved here with his family, has asked his father to move out to the desert, but there are still five-year-old kids back in Flint and Papa Joe is not about to fly the coop.

He said there were a lot of trainers who took over fighters from other coaches – he still uses the amateur term – but he liked guys who took kids from the juniors “all the way to world championships, like Emanuel Steward did. That’s what you call a trainer.”

Even at the start, he said he had this crazy dream of becoming Olympic coach and having one of his kids on the team. “I didn’t see no way,” he said, but it happened.”

The kid he felt most likely to succeed was Ryan, who was a terrific flyweight – Steve McCrory, the 1984 Olympic champion, could never beat him. Was he better than Chris? “Oh, my God, yes,” said the proud Papa. “But he had a car accident. A truck ran into his car and he was thrown out and two other cars hit him. He was lucky to live, but it was the end of boxing.”

Chris started boxing at the age of five, but seemed more interested in playing basketball – the game where his two sisters earned college scholarships. “But when he was about 14 or 15, he started to see his brothers win trophies and medals from boxing and decided he could do that, too.”

Papa Byrd was still fighting himself. In-between shifts at the General Motors plant where he spent 34 years, mostly in building management, he was a pro for 12 years. Said he was actually the last man to be in a ring with Sugar Ray Robinson. Byrd said it was an exhibition in Trenton, back in 1973, about eight years after Robinson had finally retired at the age of 44. And how was Robinson back then?

“Sweet,” said Byrd.

Chris, who won an Olympic silver medal as a 6-foot-1 middleweight with long arms, is the physical opposite of his father. Papa Byrd is more like a squat owl. “I was short and I had power,” he said. He fought light-heavyweight and heavyweight, thinks his record was “16 or 17 and 12.” The son of Mississippi sharecroppers, who moved at the age of 13 to stay with a sister, is 5-foot-7, “and a half,” and he once fought Earnie Shavers and lasted until the third round when he blew his nose after getting hit by one of those sledgehammers and his eye swelled up. He fought Ron Stander, who was one of Smokin’ Joe Frazier’s title challengers, the one whose wife said “You don’t enter a Volkswagen in the Indianapolis 500 unless you know a hell of a shortcut.”

“They said I was quick as a flashbulb and a wise old pro,” said Byrd. “He got the decision, but the judges were sleeping.”

He’s seen it all. The computer scoring that jobbed his Olympic flyweight, Eric Griffin, and took the air out of the 1992 U.S. team. Chris got silver and Tim Austin bronze, but there was only Oscar’s gold. Yet the six world champions – Chris Byrd, De La Hoya, Austin, Vernon Forrest, Raul Marquez and Montell Griffin – attested to the quality of the squad.

So there he was yesterday, working with his one-star stable of pro fighters, at the UFC Gym here. That’s Ultra Fighting Championships, the game that took Marc Ratner away from the Nevada State Athletic Commission (to be replaced by assistant state District Attorney Keith Kizer, which will be announced tomorrow). It’s clean and quiet and every now and then Papa Byrd would check to make sure Chris wasn’t overdoing it on his so-called “light” day between sparring sessions.

“The real Chris is back, he’s so happy,” said Joe Byrd.

Byrd was dreadful in his last defense, against DaVarryl Williamson. The feuding with Don King was getting to the IBF titleholder. The wise old owl stayed out of those arguments. But now, he said, he could see the difference.

For the Williamson fight, a magnificently dull decision won by Byrd last year, “I was here, but he wasn’t here, the Chris I know wasn’t here.

“This fight,” he said, “is different.”

Of course, this time Byrd is having to travel to Germany again to face Wladimir Klitschko, who beat him very one-sidedly in 2000. Chris’s eyes were swelling shut by the third round; Papa still thinks there was some hanky-panky going on.

“They played a lot of games with us,” he said. “We came over there (Cologne) with the world champion and they put us in a hotel where I wouldn’t put my amateurs. We had to eat at a whistlestop – what I call fast food. Then they told us fight night we’d be on at 9:30 and at 10:30, after warming up and cooling down a few times, we were still in our dressing room.

“I was going to stop it, especially in the 11th round, I was walking up the steps, but Patrick (another son) pulled me back and said Chris had to go the distance.”

Chris Byrd said that it was “the worst night of my whole life – not just my career, my whole life.”

This time, though they will be in an 18-foot ring in Mannheim, Byrd is not looking to go the distance. He is looking to win. He’ll be 36 in August and there are no more big paydays if he loses. And his father will be 70 on May 10 and Chris knows what Papa wants for that birthday.

PENTHOUSE: To Gerald Eskenazi, one of my many linear successors on the New York Times boxing beat, congratulations for being named to the City College of New York journalism hall of fame. Esky, one of the nicest guys in the world (he thought Al Braverman was a prince), tapped me on the shoulder at the Oliver McCall-Larry Holmes fight at Caesars Palace and pointed out, that sitting side by side by side, were Vic Ziegel, yours truly and himself – three CCNY buchas in the front row of the press section at a major Caesars Palace boxing card (Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad Jr. and Terry Norris were also on it with the Bruce Seldon-Tony Tucker WBA heavyweight title bout). Who’d have thought CCNY would produce boxing writers. Well, I’m a bit ashamed to admit that Nat Fleischer also went there.

OUTHOUSE: Zab Judah, for brushing off the press again on a conference call the other day. Hey, it wasn’t our fault you lost to Carlos Baldomir (or “Baltimore,” as your increasingly loudmouthed father called him at the same time saying Floyd Mayweather Jr. was a “big mouth”) and cost yourself millions of dollars. Be glad you’re getting a chance to still face Mayweather next weekend. The party line from Yoel Judah and promoter Don King is that Zab was too “focused” on the fight to be bothered by media types. I am hearing that Floyd, too, is focused – “he just doesn’t want to win, he’s way beyond that now,” said Mayweather adviser John Hornewer.

APRIL FOOL: Both Byrds, Papa Joe and cousin Chris, think Lamon Brewster (one grandmother was named Byrd, which makes him a cousin of his title-holding peer) should get by Sergei Liahkovich on Showtime’s freebie Saturday from Cleveland (to start after the Final Four, root for no overtimes).” Brewster will get to him,” said Joe Byrd. Chris said, “Lamon is at the top of his game now and he’s still really hungry to prove he belongs. His confidence has never been so high.” He said Liahkovich was a “good fighter, but inactivity has to hurt.” He said the Belarusian fighter was originally signed by King “to be my opponent, but Don’s got so many guys he can’t keep them all busy.”…Chris Byrd thought his buddy Hasim Rahman won “fairly easy” against James Toney “and he could’ve made it a lot easier if he had stepped back.”

KILROY IS HERE: Was going to put Marc Ratner in the PENTHOUSE again, but he probably deserved a permanent abode. Am glad he’s going to make a lot more money at the UFC. He’s 61, probably had no more than three or four more years left at the Nevada commission, so the move makes a lot of sense for his family’s sake. Of course, as Gene Kilroy, the Great Facilitator says, “he leaves awfully big shoes to fill.” I’m not sure what size foot Keith Kizer has; he was recommended by the outgoing Ratner to take over as the executive director and my buddies here tell me he’s a good man. But his only experience with the fighters themselves seems to be when the commission was meting out discipline (Mike Tyson, Fernando Vargas). Kilroy himself might have been a better choice. Think of it. The man was with Muhammad Ali for 12 years and knows everyone. He’s been living in Vegas for 27 years and there’s probably not a casino owner who hasn’t or will hire him. He’s friendly with fighters from Tyson to the Klitschko brothers. He’s one of the true straight-shooters in a mostly b.s. sport. Kilroy, who still thinks Ratner should be named the Federal commissioner, would have been a brilliant choice, if he would have accepted.

MORE DISS AND THAT: Please, is Don King becoming the first black owner of a diaper company the greatest straight line in boxing history?…Maybe some website should have a contest to come up with the best example. The prize could be pre-owned diaper samples. The fact that Ricky Hatton and Floyd Jr. have both given up their junior welterweight titles says less about weight problems than about the value of so-called championships. Hatton will make his U.S. debut against Luis Collazo, who has a WBA welterweight trinket, but it is not an easy assignment, says John Hornewer. “Collazo reminds me of Hector Camacho, after he fought Edwin Rosario,” said Horny. “He is very hard to find and he can box.”…Am not completely sold on Edison Miranda as the next big middleweight star. Yes, knocking out Howard Eastman was impressive, but the way his legs turned to spaghetti when he got nailed by the aging Brit was not conducive to great confidence.Glad to see John Jackson of Forum Promotions is back and going to kick some butt. Jackson recently underwent partial amputation of his left leg because of diabetes, but signaled his return to action by signing the Marquez brothers – Rafael and Juan Manuel – to a three-year deal. No way Jackson would have allowed Juan Manuel to go to Indonesia for $30,000 or so….If Arthur Abraham is this big, bad dude everyone says, then why is he fighting Raymond Joval?…Another candidate for the PENTHOUSE is Joe Mesi, for sticking his neck out for his dream. If he were my brother, I’d beat him up (with body shots, of course) to stop him from risking more subdural hematomas. But I applaud his guts and hope his doctors are right that he’s at no more risk than any other fighter. Guys like Mesi are why people are attracted to this brutal business in the first place.

(Happy birthday, darling Marilyn.)

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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