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Articles of 2006

What Ever Happened to Boxing Reform? (Part 4)

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Read Part 1 by Patrick Kehoe on Boxing Reform

Read Part 2 by Patrick Kehoe on Boxing Reform

Read Part 3 by Patrick Kehoe on Boxing Reform

The Muhammad Ali Act, in part, is a document that tries to formalize into law the situations for legal recourse open to fighters and their representatives, aiming to counteract some of boxing’s more coercive business practices that have long been taken to be standard business practices. As we have sought to detail, the Ali Act has not yet helped to engender anything like a reformist climate on the business side of boxing.

Kurt Emhoff, who’s been a boxing scribe and has had considerable experience doing business with various promotional entities, as well as the sport of boxing’s various world governing bodies, annotates his reading of the Ali Act and what that document has meant in terms of over all reforming import.

“Regarding Section 13(b)(1) involving disclosures from promoters to the fighters, it’s been a mixed bag,” Emhoff admits with characteristic candor.

“Under Section 13(b)(1) of the Ali Act – ‘DISCLOSURES TO THE BOXER- A promoter shall not be entitled to receive any compensation directly or indirectly in connection with a boxing match until it provides to the boxer it promotes– (1) the amounts of any compensation or consideration that a promoter has contracted to receive from such match.’

“Most promoters that I deal with have been relatively forthcoming with disclosing some of the revenue they received from the fights. Often the disclosure does not include the gate or a delineation of where the money came from and what came from whom. Most disclosures give you the bare minimum of what is required by law – we got x amount from TV and x amount from sponsors.

“The biggest problem with the disclosures has been timing. Most promoters do not give their disclosures until either right before the fight or immediately following the fight. Thus, any proposed use of the disclosure during a negotiation of the purse is nullified.”

The typical argument here is that business like life is not always fair and by ratcheting up that kind of Darwinian justification for what amounts to fraudulent behavior masking itself as business smarts is precisely the kind of retrograde behavior that hurts the entire industry. From small beginnings come large effects; surely in the world of today we understand that hidden deceptions are more than just bad faith immoralities. The idea that equitable sharing of revenue streams from the promotion, presentation and selling of a boxing card is only an opportunity for clever exploitation of the party without controlling interest or levering authority means that boxing as a system cannot reinvent itself against its most base instincts. And we all know that it’s the fighters, in the end, who are going to be kept in the dark, the exact details that constitute the numerical payoffs and contractual obligations of a lifetime’s rigor appearing to them in a language they cannot speak.

“This section of the Ali Act also was litigated in a New Jersey federal court. When Jeff Lacy decided to leave Main Events, one of the grounds he stated was that he wasn’t receiving any Ali Act disclosures. In a published opinion, the court determined two things – one that the Ali Act disclosures must be given directly to the boxer and not to any of his handlers (principles of agency be damned) and that the timing of the disclosure ‘might be particularly important when the boxer negotiates the amount of the purse he should receive.’”

“This is an important decision,” Kurt Emhoff wants to stress. “The judge makes it clear that the intention of the Act is to level the playing field of what is often a one-sided negotiation. The fact that the judge decided that the timing of the disclosure should be at the time of negotiation, and not just before or after the fight, runs contrary to the practice of most every promoter in the business. Granted, often times the promoter does not have all of his sponsors lined up at the time of negotiating the purse, nor may he have the TV money in hand. The Ali Act is explicit, however, in stating that the promoter shall not receive any compensation until it provides the disclosure. Thus far, this decision has not had any impact on the industry, but I have the feeling it will come up in future litigations between fighters and promoters,” Emhoff says, depositing more than a footnote we might look for, in the near-term future, when the next high profile boxer vs. promoter or manager case goes to court.

“Beyond civil litigation, Section 6 of the Ali Act was supposed to give each state’s attorney general the power to enforce the rules of the act when a violation occurred. To my knowledge, no AG has stepped in and stopped a boxing match or enforced the Ali Act to the detriment of any fighter, promoter or sanctioning body. That is the main complaint by many about the Act is that it is well-intentioned but not particularly enforceable.

“Is an AG willing to step in if a promoter does not provide an Ali Act disclosure, or a sanctioning body does not post a timely explanation for a ratings change? It’s highly doubtful. They have bigger and better things to do than try to enforce the attempted reforms of the boxing game. Both litigation and law enforcement are expensive and time consuming activities. The wheels of justice turn ever so slowly.”

Indeed, to quote Gary Shaw from a 2001 interview with regards to boxing reform, “Boxing is a very large ship at sea and seems to take a long time to turn such a big boat.”

Kurt Emhoff puts a very important dot over the ‘i’ of indolence, when he tells us, “Without an internal mechanism for enforcing the Act, those within the sport can only turn to the courts to try to get relief under the Act and only a handful have had the money to do so with mixed results.”

And that, of course, is the myth of the law as able arbitrator for those affronted, exploited, those having suffered injury, be it only financial or defined as opportunity denied. The shot-in-the-gut reality is that most boxers can rarely afford an independent CAT scan or a return trip to an accounts office for some third party auditing of their contingent financial affairs. Redress and recourse are usually rights existing as a privilege for those with enough money to make the wheels of justice or winds of fate turn in their direction.

“As far as the promoters who proclaim themselves the new messiahs of the sport – 'The Contender,' Golden Boy, DiBella Entertainment, etc. – no one is really doing anything different than what went on before that I can tell. The Contender has managed to bring a few more fans to the sport, however, the contracts that they make the fighters sign seem very regressive in terms of reform. Have ‘Contender’ fighters made more on the show than they would have otherwise? The winners and the runners-up, most definitely – and the publicity probably didn’t hurt the guys who lost in the early rounds either.

“I have yet to represent a fighter who has signed with Golden Boy, but they do seem to be pulling in more sponsorships than the average promoter and I would hope that this translates into more money for their fighters.”

Certainly, Golden Boy Promotions are the test case for whatever might be defined as a reformist (im)pulse to one day beat near to the heart of big time boxing. Oscar De La Hoya’s promotional child seems to be netting the largest stable of marketable fighters, already staking itself as the chief rival to the traditional houses of Don King’s production empire and Bob Arum’s kingdom at Top Rank. Just how bottom line and mercenary will the business practices of Golden Boy turn out to be or for that matter how inclusive and transparent will the informational transfers be between the management at Golden Boy and all of their clients?

Time will tell and is now telling and we are watching, taking notes to be advised, informing ourselves to be at the ready to judge and make decisions with our wallets and our words. We who are earnest about wanting boxing to reform its conditions, we who are consumers of the sport, who are the scribes and analysts for the sport will be taking upon ourselves that stated goal, to keep the record and to remember just who are the good guys, the agents of change, more often than not acting in good faith, and who are the outlaws, the dreaded others.

Emhoff offers us more. “With DiBella Entertainment, it’s an interesting story. When Lou DiBella first left HBO, he had a new type of model with which he was working that was going to change the industry. His company was not going to be a promoter, but a television packager. The idea was that he would go to the networks, get the television dates and only pay the “promoter” of the bout a flat fee for doing the grunt work (securing the venue, selling the tickets, etc.). When big Lou had a fistful of HBO dates to play with (as were part of his severance package from HBO), this new paradigm worked. When the dates ran out, however, Lou had to change gears and become an ordinary “promoter” and deal with the grunt work like the rest of the Philistines. Lou initially had pretty liberal form contracts with his fighters that were as fighter friendly as any I’d seen before. Now that he is “just a promoter” he’s started to use the same old form language that all the others use.”

“As far as transparency goes, it is a little better with DBE than say Don King Productions or Top Rank. With any promoter, the fighter is going to need representation that speaks up for the fighter and asks the right questions. The problem is, if you get too picky and your fighter isn’t a superstar, the promoters will just put someone else in the fight if they can make the same money. Promoters have no fiduciary duty to fighters, so no matter what is said in public, promoters are in this to make money and they are not obligated to act in the fighter’s best interest. Having said this, I think that DBE is one of the “best of the worst” so to speak. The paradigm is still the same though, pretty much throughout the industry – not much has changed.”

What does Mr. Emhoff have to say about the major governing bodies, those institutions for the administrative oversight of the world fight game, mainly residing off US shores, all mainly happy with the history of boxing as the free market system meets chaos theory and all things negotiable and generally for sale. We increase our lens magnification to try and pick up the faint imaging of subatomic activity, the suggestion of origins and from what interactions all things are animated.

“The Klitschko case (see Part 3) pretty much assured that it’s going to be business as usual with the ratings – and as go the ratings, so go the sanctioning bodies. I think one of the reasons you don’t hear the rallying cries for boxing reform now are that the big fights are still getting made by HBO and Showtime. The belts are becoming less relevant. It’s still the best way for the fighters to make money – if you win a belt, generally you’re going to get paid more for your next fight than not. So the sanctioning bodies’ belts do help the fighters and promoters put more money in their pockets. Bottom line, the sanctioning bodies aren’t going anywhere, the US Congress looks like they’ll never pass a comprehensive boxing bill that calls for a federal commission, and everyone in the business is out for themselves. So when it comes to reform, you only hear about it when a particular party is aggrieved. No one talks about general reform of the sport anymore unless it serves their purposes.

“On the bright side, the sanctioning bodies are more regulated now. They do have to provide explanations for ratings changes and they’ve all seen what the Rocchigiani suit did to the WBC. They have thus far not been acting quite as egregiously as in the past, or maybe I’m just not looking as hard. I also think a lot of it has to do with writers not beating the drum for it anymore. I ran out of steam, Charles Jay ran out of steam, Greg Leon is now content to just collect all the advertising checks he gets from promoters and not try to ruffle any feathers. I think it’s going to take another catastrophic event like the IBF bribery trial to get the drums banging again. I don’t know, but short of a National Commission I don’t know that we’ll see much more piecemeal reform bills.”

Reform. Transparency. Sin. Sinners. Sinning. Predators. Victims. Justice. Redemption. Memory.

Out with the old and in with the new; nothing really changes.

Justice is blind; seeing believing.

And everything gets better over time?

Remember when we used to believe in the future? Pity, because boxing needs a new future, now!

Patrick Kehoe may be reached at pkehoe@telus.net

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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