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Articles of 2006

Byrd by Knockout, and No, I’m Not Kidding, See Holyfield’s Law

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LAS VEGAS, April 20 – Jose Torres, the writer who used to be the light-heavyweight champion of the world, maintains that boxing is predicated on lies and, remember, he fought before the days of Don King and Bob Arum. Chegui, however, was not referring to the mendacity of the promoters of his day, but to the guiles of his contemporaries in the ring.

A simple feint, he argues, is a “lie,” the telling of which is to make an opponent buy the Brooklyn Bridge and thereby open himself to ruin. In other words, Wladimir Klitschko should not believe Chris Byrd’s transatlantic assertions that, heaven forbid, their confrontation Saturday night will involve chin-checking.

“If you try to check someone’s chin, you will get checked,” said Byrd when asked on a teleconference call to Mannheim, Germany, if that was his plan, given that Klitschko has been down nine times in his last seven fights.

Byrd said he would just do what he had been training to do and you didn’t have to look behind him to see his fingers crossed. He was being deferential to Baby Brother, who beat him like his daddy back in the year 2000. It is not Byrd’s style to wage psychological war before a fight. He is not a Ricardo Mayorga, calling his opponent “Chicken” De La Hoya (see OUTHOUSE below). Byrd’s fight plan is indeed to test Klitschko’s chin, to set the 6-foot-6 giant’s mind whirling with doubts. But he shall wait until they are in the Mannheim ring together Saturday night to implement the strategy.

The Byrd game plan is partially based on the preachings of Evander Holyfield, who in boxing terms at least has brought science and religion into peaceful coexistence. Even atheists could marvel at how Holyfield’s faith would deliver him from the fiery furnace and the lion’s den. But the Real Deal believed in one of the laws of the sweet science, one that he articulates by saying it’s not who hits the hardest, and I paraphrase here, “It’s whether I can take his’n and if he can take mine.”

That’s the key to the most important heavyweight title fight this week. It’s why I believe, that while the odds are massed against Byrd – facing a man who beat the tar out of him more than five years ago, in the man’s adopted home country of Germany while he, now 35, has looked ragged in recent fights – he will escape with his IBFelons belt and the recognition that any attempt to unify the outlying districts under one banner must go through him.

Byrd will also have to worry about his back. The IBFelons are in charge and Klitschko would be a much more popular winner with those who count; HBO certainly will be rooting for its one-time anointed savior. Byrd apparently has lucked out with the appointment of John Coyle, a no-nonsense English referee who figures not to allow Wladimir Klitschko get away with the amount of clutching and holding he did in beating Samuel Peter to earn this spot.

Still, it is the conventional wisdom that Byrd, to get a draw, will need a knockout. It is also conventional wisdom that the 212-pound 1992 Olympic middleweight silver medal winner can’t punch. To which I say, Holyfield’s Law applies here. We know Byrd can take Klitschko’s; he absorbed 12 rounds of such a beating that his father, and trainer, Joe Byrd, had to be stopped by eldest brother Patrick Byrd from climbing into the ring with a towel.

The question now is whether Klitschko can take Byrd’s. On the conference call the other day, I asked Wladimir how hard Byrd punched. He asked if I saw the fight and Byrd himself answered, “I didn’t hit him.”

In any case, the Klitschko of the year 2000 was the flavor of the new millennium. The current version, Vitali’s little brother is quick to admit, has lost a bit of respect after getting knocked out by Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster and dropped by such as DaVarryl Williamson and the novice Samuel Peter.

It is not very far from his thoughts, what people think of him, “that I have no, chin, no stamina, no balls, dead man walking.”

He said by getting up three times against Peter, he hoped fans were convinced “that dead man can keep walking and walking and walking.”

I wondered if he had his fingers crossed behind his back. Even against Peter, Wladimir fought with the skittishness of a man unsure of his chin or himself. An opponent raises an arm to hit him, it is as if he can not get away soon enough. In the rematch with Oliver McCall, who was going through an in-ring nervous breakdown, Lennox Lewis turned and ran early when McCall, who had knocked him out earlier, simply lifted his right hand. Wladimir Klitschko has looked that way ever since the Corrie Sanders ambush three years ago

Papa Joe Byrd has noticed that Klitschko is so afraid of his chin that his guard is unusually high, meaning Chris should have ample opportunity to soften the giant with body shots. Recently, at the UFC gym here where he prepared, Chris said he wondered what would happen when he absorbs Wladimir’s shots and keeps moving forward. The questions of stamina – Wladimir did well in the final round against Peter, of course – might once again whirl in the Klitschko brain. And Wladimir’s brain is what might be his most vulnerable part. He may simply be too smart for this game, too aware of the bad possibilities that he faces in the ring.

He is a very talented young man. He has the goods. Good jab, good boxing ability, good power. Good training, now with Emanuel Steward, previously with Freddie Roach. Most Americans thought he was the best of the Klitschkos. But Chris always voted for Vitali, saying Big Brother hit harder and was much tougher to reach. And it should be noted that both the Soviet coaches and German promoters who handled both Klitschkos must have agreed. Vitali was the Soviet superheavyweight; Wladimir had to starve himself to become the 201-pound representative until Vitali failed a steroid test (ahem, it was part of his medicine; Chris always said it was Vitali who hits harder and is tougher to reach.) Even after Wladimir moved up to superheavy and won the gold medal in the 1996 Games, when the brothers turned pro it was Vitali who was given top billing by their German promoters.

After Vitali gave Lennox Lewis so much trouble and then knocked out Sanders to win another paper title, Klaus-Peter Kohl, the head of Universeum, said to me, “I told you Vitali was the better.”

Kohl has characterized Wladimir – who has left him, of course – as being a professional boxer only two months a year. I don’t think Baby Bro really likes this game. Byrd, on the other wing, is acting like a kid with a new old toy. His love of boxing has been rekindled since he escaped Don King.

“I feel free,” he said on the conference call. He said he had “a great training camp” without King constantly calling to bother him. “I feel pumped.”

This is the first rematch of Byrd’s career. His only other loss was to the almost mythic Ike Ibeabuchi, who is locked up somewhere, safely I hope. Papa Joe says every time he runs into referee Ron Rall, he gets an apology for stopping the 1999 bout at 2:59 of the fifth round with Byrd on his feet.

According to Papa Joe, Chris zigged when he should have zagged, right into a big right hand thrown and went down face first in the fifth.

“That’s when I knew Chris had a chin,” said proud Papa. “Guys who go down that hard on their face never get up. But he bounced up, and was managing to hang in there when the signal for ten seconds to go sounded. Chris thought it was the end of the round and dropped his hands and the ref thought he was defenseless and stopped the fight. He apologizes to me every time he sees me now.”

Papa Joe had long learned that Chris, the youngest of his eight boxing kids, was special. “He had a rubber waist,” said the trainer.

He also had mercurial hand speed and terrific balance and agility. He has learned as his feet have grown a bit slower that he does not have to dance away from the bigger guys, that he can stay inside, avoid their punches, and “fight in the trenches.” He is more settled and that adds a bit to his 215-pound power. That’s what he’ll need against Wladimir.

If I’m wrong, never too far beyond the realm of possibility, then let us stop now and praise Byrd for his amazing accomplishments so far, to have gone up against the biggest and baddest for all these years – the only ones he missed were Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis, neither of whom wanted to be embarrassed by the stylish southpaw – with the foreknowledge that he would be unable to really dent his opponent. For an Olympic middleweight to take on such as both Klitschko brothers, Ibeabuchi, David Tua, Holyfield, Foul Pole Golota et al, knowing he couldn’t hurt them, says reams about his bravery. And it’s not because he’s a “little” guy. Hell, Buster Mathis – father and son – also went in the ring knowing they couldn’t hurt opponents, but that didn’t stop them from fighting, respectively, Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, Riddick Bowe and Mike Tyson.

Call it what you want – heart, courage, guts or my favorite, “character” – Byrd may have the big advantage here. And if I’m wrong, it won’t be terrible to have a confident Wladimir Klitschko in the mix.

PENTHOUSE: Kermit Cintron no longer has to circle the bandwagons, not because he stopped David Estrada last night, but that he came through duress to do so and, in his own heart at least, should now be satisfied that he erased last year’s embarrassing loss to Antonio Margarito. Losing to Margarito is no crime. It’s the way Cintron collapsed when his aura was shattered. But Emanuel Steward – who was not at ringside since he is with Wladimir Klitschko in Mannheim – has given a confidence boost to another fighter and there may be another player in the welterweight division. I am not back on the bandwagon; Estrada is a tough but limited fighter and if he could punch he probably would have hurt Cintron. The big thing is that Cintron should be back on his own bandwagon.

OUTHOUSE: Marian Muhammad has become the Gypsy Rose Lee of boxing, taking over from Jose Sulaiman as the No. 1 stripper in the game. Her IBFelons have “ordered” Floyd Mayweather Jr. to give Zab Judah a rematch, which is a fight no one could possibly want to see again since we all know the outcome, though Don King would of course accept it. Zab loses another fight, I maintain, he becomes IBF champion for life. Also, what is Gypsy Rose – and the accent should be on gyp – going to do after Nevada gets through punishing Zab for his behavior in the Mayweather melee. Zab, remember, was suspended six months and fined $75,000 for going after Referee Jay Nady for protecting his life from Kostya Tszyu. That “prior” will weigh heavily on Judah’s penalty this time. He will not be available, I believe, for any rematch any time soon….Yoel Judah, who with his son and Mayweather second Leonard Ellerbe, also faces Nevada punishment when the commission meets next month, belongs in here for his handling of Zab’s career. Maybe, just maybe, Zab ran out of gas after five rounds against Mayweather because he did not have adequate sparring – his father taking the $250,000 training fees and pocketing most. Say this, the talented Zab – okay, he’s no pound-for-pound giant – will have a tough time paying his reported $1.6 million IRS bill with his father in the corner.

There’s always a warm spot in my OUTHOUSE for Ricardo Mayorga and his oft-foul mouth, though this time he is merely being imitative (flattery will get you nowhere) when he uses the name “Chicken” for Oscar De La Hoya. It’s okay he says he’ll knock out the Golden Boy by the sixth round of their May 6 encounter here. It’s even okay to kid that he’s been sparring with “live” chickens to acclimate to De La Hoya’s style. It’s humorous that he says he’s taking this fight so seriously “I have even tailed off the drinking and cigarettes.” Or that “Oscar’s washed up.” He’s not the only one who says De La Hoya “took a dive” against Bernard Hopkins (though being in the same company with Bob Arum should give the Nicaraguan some pause). Or even that “most people don’t understand that of all the fighters in boxing, Oscar is the one I like the least – he’s a pretty boy.” No, Mayorga is in here for past accomplishments, like telling Cory Spinks he would soon be joining his mother in heaven….Incidentally, Mayorga indeed has a shot against De La Hoya in a 12-round fight since we have no idea how much the pretty boy has left. Frankly, I’m not that interested in finding out, though I will be rooting for Oscar (again) so he can go on to make boxing’s real Pretty Boy more rich and famous.

DIS AND THAT: Someone please advise Mike Tyson that showing up to drop the ball before a lacrosse game is not a very bright public relations move in the light of the accusations of rape made against Duke lacrosse players.…Antonio Tarver didn’t like being put in the OUTHOUSE last week. He did use the word “race” in ascribing Bob Arum’s motives for going opposite Tarver-Bernard Hopkins on June 10 with a pay-per-view show featuring the Puerto Rican star, Miguel Cotto. Tarver was right, however, in saying that this was not a racist battle between African-American and Puerto Rican marketing campaigns. The Cotto fight, now against Paulie Malignaggi, was scheduled a year earlier by Arum to coincide with New York’s Puerto Rican Day parade the following day. It was up to Tarver and Hopkins to find another spot….By the way, Antonio, I’d advise you to concentrate more on beating Hopkins. This is not a walkover….Beating the lackluster Audley Harrison does not make Dominick Guinn a contender.

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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