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Articles of 2006

Russians Are Coming? So Is Evander – Again

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LAS VEGAS, Aug. 16 – One of Evander Holyfield’s former trainers was calling and, no, he was not going to Dallas to see the old man launch another comeback Friday. Don Turner was laughing at America, in a manner of snickering.

He said he had three Russians in the gym. “The Russians listen,” he said.

Obviously, he said, Hasim Rahman did not, as usual. “Could you believe he ran out of gas after seven, eight rounds?” said Turner. “What is with these guys?”

Rahman, it should be pointed out in view of the Friday night fight in Dallas, was the last man Holyfield defeated. That was more than four years ago. Holyfield is not the towering figure he once was, when he was considered too small to be a heavyweight. But even in decline, he is heads and shoulders above the division he has ruled, in one form or another, four times. There will be more paying customers at the American Airlines Center in Dallas for Holyfield’s bout with something called Jeremy Bates than there were when Rahman, defending one of the four sanctioning body belts, was able to draw in his home town of Vegas against his 1999 conqueror, Oleg Maskaev.

Holyfield turns 44 in October and, delusions aside, figures that by the time he gets ready to fight again for a title, he will be older than George Foreman was at 45 when he set the age record for winning a heavyweight title.

“They can laugh about it if they want,” he said on the phone.

As one of my predecessors on the CCNY student newspaper, The Campus, once wrote, “They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round.” Ira Gershwin’s lyrics preceded the laughter at Holyfield when he said he could make the Olympic team, when they said it he was too green to challenge Dwight Muhammad Qawi, when they said he was too small to be a heavyweight and James (Buster) Douglas would knock him out easier than he did Mike Tyson.

They laughed at Wilbur and his brother when they said man could fly, George’s brother also noted. And they laughed at Vander when he insisted that he was not finished upon losing to Riddick Bowe and Shelly Finkel and Lou Duva advised him to retire. They laughed at him when he returned from a so-called “heart condition” following his loss to Michael Moorer. They roared when, after looking like a dead man in the finale of the Bowe trilogy and his victory over Bobby Czyz, Don King put him in with Tyson.

We all know the story. Even on the way down, he was able to give Lennox Lewis hell in their rematch – Lewis won the “draw” much easier. I still think he beat John Ruiz three times – including a knockout in the second fight when Referee Joe Cortez ruled a low blow the shot to the solar plexus that floored Ruiz.

Yes, he was feeble in his losses to Chris Byrd, James Toney and Larry Donald, as ashen and weak as he looked against Czyz. I do not like this idea of a “comeback.” Yes, he will make upwards of $500,000 for fighting a journeyman who was thinking of retiring back to his old Kentucky home, but Holyfield was never about money.

He still has this dream of retiring as heavyweight champion – undisputed heavyweight champion.

This of course will never happen. The way the alphabets rule, he’d be 75 or 80 by the time he’d be able to round up all four titles.

Incidentally, Ira Gershwin had a co-writer while working for the CCNY Campus, a guy who would later write something about “dreams really do come true” over the rainbow. E.Y. (Yip) Harburg – “If I Only Had a Brain” could be my theme song – never met Evander Holyfield in real life, but he knew him in spirit.

Trainers, friends, well-wishers all would like Holyfield to go back to his 109-room, $38-million mansion and count his money or children. This makes him a little testy, though. He says the “point of love is not to say, ‘I love you, but I don’t want you to do what you want.’ Does that mean you can’t love me if I do this?”

“I don’t think you can ever alleviate people’s worries,” he said, not at all sounding punchy. “That’s what they do, that’s what they are.”

He points out that it’s probably more instructional to tell people to stop smoking, or drinking. Danger is everywhere.

The libertine in me prevents me from telling Holyfield he is nuts and should get out before he becomes a tragic statistic. He could very easily tell me to trash my computer and get out of writing because I ain’t what I used to be, either. Hell, I speak to the guy for half an hour about heavyweights and I don’t ask him what he thinks of the Soviet invasion.

He says the two years off, after two shoulder surgeries, have left him feeling a hell of a lot better than he was at the time of his last three fights. “Just through all the rest,” he said, “everything is better.” In his last ring appearance, against Larry Donald, he said he developed a bad cramp and wanted to stay on the stool, but he looked down and saw Evander Jr., then 15, and “I didn’t want him to say I quit. If I walked out of there, they’d tell my son your father quit when things get tough.”

The grandstanding New York State Athletic Commission said Holyfield should be banned from fighting again because of his “diminished” skills. “They didn’t even talk to me,” said Holyfield.

That’s not been rescinded. He will remain unlicensed in New York, but the rest of the country is still free.

Rationalization is the tool of any losing fighter, of course. He said he was sick the first fight with Lennox Lewis, wouldn’t have gone on except he truly believed he would score a third-round knockout as he had so widely predicted. When that failed, he wanted to go home. Again, he could not quit. No way was Evander Holyfield ever going to quit and that quality, which made him one of the most beloved fighters in history, is something his caring fans will have to put up with as he continues to tilt at windmills.

He was going to appear on an old-timers card last month in Boise, Idaho, with Virgil Hill underneath a Roy Jones Jr. main event. But Lester Bedford, a Texan who managed Jesse James Leija and has done on-site promotions for Bob Arum and Main Events, was called in. Bedford did not want to be painted as an “enabler,” someone making money off the Holyfield name with no regard for the Holyfield body.

“I heard he couldn’t walk and talk,” said Bedford. “I was expecting to see another Meldrick Taylor in there.”

To his surprise, Holyfield was as clear as a bell. “He talks better than Rahman,” said Bedford, BEFORE Maskaev hit him again for the first time in seven years.

Bedford got the Texas commission to send Holyfield to the top neurologists and heart guys in Houston, where the fighter has trained almost since before boxers donned gloves. Remember, when Holyfield thought he couldn’t fight again after the first Moorer fight, he accepted his fate willingly. It was only after subsequent tests proved there was nothing wrong with his heart that he decided to come back then.

Bedford liked the idea that Holyfield never talked money. It was always about winning the title again. “He’s not a big broken fighter walking around looking for a funeral.”

Reports, mostly from Bedford and trainer Ronnie Shields, are that Holyfield looks pretty good in training. But the key ingredient is not how far his reflexes might have recovered with the time off. It is happiness.

“This guy is so happy,” said Bedford, almost gushing, “so effin’ happy.”

Holyfield takes a more sedate view. Yes, he said, he’s happy, as if why even ask the question. “Yes, I’m happy about the opportunity to fight again,” he said.

And he feels healthy. “I felt I could deal with pain,” he said. Now he doesn’t have to and it’s a Real Big Deal.

Holyfield does not need my blessing to continue his quixotic search. I wish him all the best. The cynic in me says no way, but let’s not go into that. I remember before the first Tyson fight, after he had looked terrible in stopping Bobby Czyz in five rounds – and that’s not easy to do – he told us that if he hadn’t looked so bad, maybe he wouldn’t be in the position of challenging for a title. No, he said, he didn’t shave points, or whatever the boxing equivalent is, in giving Don King assurance that there was no threat to his cash cow.

But for all the punches he’s taken – and when did anyone ever miss Holyfield? – he is still business sharp. Evander Holyfield, at whatever age, remains a big name (attendance in Dallas will probably be more than 10,000). He is also considered, pardon the understatement, rather easy prey. Low risk, high reward – a couple of more Jeremy Bates types and who’s to say Holyfield won’t be picked again as the human sacrifice to one of the alphabet champions.

“I know they can’t wait to fight somebody they can make a lot of money with,” he said.

He remembers when his Main Events promoters, after he first won the title from Buster Douglas in 1991 – goodness, 15 years went by rather quickly – that he wanted to fight George Foreman, then a mere lad of 42 or so. He wanted to fight Mike Tyson.

“I don’t want to fight George Foreman,” he said. He felt it was a no-win situation. If he won, people would say he was picking on an old man; if he lost, well….

“Yes, you do,” Shelly Finkel, his co-manager insisted.

So he’ll be 44 in October. By the time he gets around to fighting someone like Nikolay Valuev, the 7-foot-plus champion of the WB-Who (“that’s a big target, a very big target,” said Holyfield) he could be older than Foreman when the Russian will probably hear from someone like Don King, “You want to fight Evander Holyfield.”

Please, if Rahman had avenged his 1999 loss to Maskaev, he might have been tempted to avenge his loss to Holyfield, too.

This is a very sick business, you know.

PENTHOUSE: Of course, Rahman could have beaten Maskaev. But, as Don Turner pointed out, American fighters don’t listen. Thell Torrence, his trainer, insisted that Rahman just stay behind his jab. Again Rahman, as in his draw with James Toney, did not listen. However, Maskaev listened to his corner. Trainer Victor Valle Jr., accomplishing what his father never could, led his horse to a heavyweight title by constantly reminding him to walk away from Rahman’s controlling jab. Russians listen, even if they are American citizens living in Staten Island and moving to Sacramento. And in the end, though he had hurt his back in training and his left thumb in the bout, though there were some ugly welts behind his ears from some out-of-bounds Rahman punches, Maskaev just kept going after his American Dream and, lo and behold, Dennis Rappaport was right: Cinderella is now a heavyweight champion. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy and I hope he isn’t too nicked to have to pass on Wladimir Klitschko’s Nov. 11 date….It would be lovely if the title could at least be partially unified by the time Holyfield is ready to fight for it again, heh, heh….Don King never ceases to amaze. He’s got this Valuev-Monte Barrett fight where the only prurient interest is in what a seven-footer looks like in the ring. Monte Barrett can make Hasim Rahman look dull, too. So King puts on a rematch of the Thomasz Adamek-Paul Briggs light-heavyweight bout, adds another Pole to the card (don’t ask me which one, Adameck or Matt Zegan, is North Pole and which is South Pole) and moves it to Rosemont, Ill., a mob-friendly suburb of Chicago and its large Polish population. King has a bright future in this business, if he would only stay healthy.

OUTHOUSE: Kevin Cunningham, Cory Spinks’s trainer, for whining that Floyd Mayweather Jr. “ducked us” after he mistakenly announced that a deal for a Spinks-Mayweather duel was 99 percent done. In this business, it’s 100 percent or nothing, Kevin. The thought of Mayweather “ducking” the light-hitting Spinks, who had been knocked out by Zab Judah, the last guy Pretty Boy has beaten, is rather silly. I am very glad that the Nov. 4 date has gone to Carlos Baldomir.

Let’s turn it around, all you “Fraud” Squad freaks. Why the hell should Mayweather give a fight to Antonio Margarito when Baldomir is not only the real welterweight champion – not the WBOgus one? He most certainly deserves the payday a lot more than a guy who has yet to beat anything close to Judah or even the aged Arturo Gatti. I’m not saying Margarito would have any trouble with either – though I think prime Judah would be difficult for the wide-swinging Tijuana product. But Baldomir, who goes into New York and beats Judah, knocks off Gatti in Atlantic City, is now coming to Mayweather’s home town of Las Vegas and the tough Argentine will be getting at least a couple of million. Good for him.

Mayweather, by the way, will be getting more than that so-called $8 million offer Bob Arum said he made to fight Margarito. Mayweather’s camp tells me there was not really $8 million for the fighter. There’ll be more for the Baldomir show, I’m told….Margarito may have to fight Joshua Clottey on an Arum card Dec. 2 (Miguel Cotto will also be on, but there’s a good chance of more dueling dates with Winky Wright possibly going on opposite). Imagine if Mayweather tried to fight Clottey. Nothing against the fighter from Ghana, it’s just that there aren’t as many live opponents out there as one would presume. If Mayweather was virtually limited at the end to Baldomir or Spinks, Margarito’s pickings are even slimmer…..FINIS

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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