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Articles of 2006

Jermain Taylor Home for the Holidays, Decisions Ouma

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NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — For the better part of Saturday night, Jermain Taylor looked like a man being pursued by a swarm of pesky gnats.

And although the middleweight champion fought virtually all twelve rounds in full retreat, by the end of the night the gnats had suffered the heavier casualties. That’s what happens when you try to chase a man around in his own house.

The old boxing saw about inevitability of the result in a fight between a good big man and a good little man played itself out in real-time at the Alltel Arena Saturday night, as Taylor captured a unanimous decision over a thoroughly game Kassim Ouma to retain his 160-pound belts in the main event of Lou DiBella’s ‘Home for the Holidays’ card in Taylor’s Arkansas hometown.

The disparate force of the two men’s power was on display throughout the night, beginning with the first round, when Taylor rocked Ouma with a solid right uppercut that knocked him two steps backward.

Recognizing that an aggressive mode was not only his best chance, but his only one, Ouma played the aggressor’s role, but Taylor patiently allowed him to charge in before countering with his heavier artillery.

Ouma performed well and he performed bravely, but he was simply overmatched.

The occasion also marked the American debut of the WBC’s new system of Open Scoring in title fights, and when the judges’ tallies were announced at the end of the fourth, Taylor was up 40-36 on all three cards.

By the fifth Ouma was beginning to swell on both cheekbones, but before that stanza was over, Taylor got his only real fright of the evening when he emerged from one exchange with what appeared to be a nasty cut along his left eyelid.

Between rounds, cutman Ray Rodgers was able to repair the wound, which didn’t reopen significantly until the last couple of rounds, by which time the fight was well in hand.

Taylor claimed that the cut had been caused by a head-butt, but if so, we didn’t see it, and neither did referee Frank Garza.

In the seventh, Taylor connected with a big right that lifted Ouma right up off the canvas, but the smaller man kept coming.

The second announcement of the judges’ tallies demonstrated yet another unanticipated flaw in the Open Scoring system: What happens if the ring announcer screws up the total?

Precisely that transpired after the eighth, when Michael Buffer correctly announced scores of 80-72 and 78-74, but misread a third card (either Tom Kaczmarek’s or Jack Woodburn’s) and erroneously gave the judge’s seven-round tally (70-63), omitting the eighth-round score.

Despite the oversight, it was clear enough that the fight was in danger of becoming a rout, which resulted in Ouma pressing forward with even more urgency, while Taylor pulled in the horns and, realizing at last that he wasn’t going to knock Ouma out anyway, boxed more cautiously.

“I wanted to knock him out,” said Taylor. “I was in great shape, but I kind of took out a loan the last couple of rounds.”

“Jermain was kind of running on fumes toward the end, but I think the cut may have been bothering him, too,” said DiBella.

Even though he lost the last three rounds on the cards of Kaczmarek and Italian judge Servio Silvi (and two of the last three on the Canadian Woodburn’s), Taylor was handily ahead at the end. Woodburn had him up 118-110, Kaczmarek 117-111, and Silvi 115-113. (The Sweet Science scorecard was an even more emphatic 119-109 in the champion’s favor.)

Taylor landed 244 punches to Ouma’s 177, but the statistics could not register the wide gulf between the force of the blows delivered by the respective combatants. Most of Taylor’s, in keeping with his nickname, were delivered with bad intentions, while, by backing up, he was able to smother most of Ouma’s scattershot array.

And even though Ouma threw more punches (701 to 579 for Taylor) his average of 58 per round was just a little better than half the 104 per round he had averaged over his previous ten fights.

“Ouma came out and fought hard for all twelve rounds,” said Taylor. “He’s a little guy, but he’s very tough.”

Although Taylor had knocked out 16 of his first 20 professional opponents, the Ouma fight marked the fifth time in his last six outings that he has been extended the 12-round distance. Obviously, the level of competition may have something to do with that, since all five were against reigning or former world champions — Ouma, Winky Wright, Bernard Hopkins (twice), and William Joppy.

Taylor retained his WBC and WBO titles with the win. He is also recognized by the WBA as its ‘super champion.’

“Whoever wants to fight, come on!” Taylor threw down the challenge before departing for the hospital. “I’ll fight the toughest guy out there.”

Taylor was taken to a local hospital where a plastic surgeon stitched his wound, which should heal in time for his next HBO date, probably against ‘Contender’ first-year winner Sergio Mora in mid-April.

That would put it a week or two after Joe Calzaghe’s Cardiff super-middleweight defense against Contender runner-up Peter Manfredo Jr., which has now been rolled back from March 3 to April 7. The tentative plan still calls for Taylor to move up to 168 to challenge the Welshman later in the summer, probably in the United States, but not, we can now safely predict, in Arkansas.

Everything about Saturday night’s fight suggested that Ouma would be better served by going straight back to 154, a division in which he would be a force to be reckoned with against almost anyone, but, surprisingly, the beaten Ugandan had other ideas.

“You know me, I’m a small guy, but I’m here (as a middleweight) to stay,” vowed Ouma.

Describing himself as “a guy who never gives up,” Ouma was even asking for more of Taylor.

“I want to come back here again and fight you in Little Rock,” Ouma told Taylor in the ring.

Taylor-Ouma was the first world title fight ever contested in Little Rock (unless one counts a trio of WAA bouts the late Pat O’Grady staged here in the 1980s, which we don’t), and just the second in the state of Arkansas. In March of 1903, Joe Gans successfully defended his world lightweight title by stopping Steve Crosby in the 11th round of a scheduled 20-round fight in Hot Springs.

(An 1896 heavyweight title fight between Gentlemen Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons was originally scheduled to be held in Hot Springs, but Arkansas Governor James P. Clarke threatened to use the state militia to prevent the bout, which he ran right out of his state and all the way to Nevada, where Fitzsimmons won the title after felling Corbett with his “solar plexus punch.”)

DiBella didn’t have to contend with any hostile forces in the Arkansas state house, but his former employers at HBO didn’t do him any favors when it came to Saturday’s live gate. Although the free HBO feed is prohibited from being shown in public establishments, the network was allowed to peddle the closed-circuit sale. The result was that many saloons in Little Rock’s popular River Market area were advertising the fight at cover charges ranging from $5 TO $10, while the paid attendance of 10,119 meant nearly 7,000 empty seats in the Alltel Arena.

“I’m guessing it probably cost us a couple of thousand fans,” said DiBella. “They had the choice of buying a ticket to the fight or paying a small cover charge so they could get sh**-faced while they watched it in a bar, and a lot of people took that option.

“Next time we do one of these fights I’m going to argue that they shouldn’t be allowed to sell closed-circuit rights in a small-town market, because it does have a significant impact on the gate,” added the promoter.

DiBella also had to pander to local custom by interrupting the live show midway through the undercard to show the Heisman Trophy telecast on the overhead screen. Arkansas’ Darren McFadden had even less chance of winning the Heisman than Ouma had of beating Taylor, but unless the Razorback crowd had a chance to see it with their own eyes, they might have opted to stay away from the fight.

Andre Berto, the talented Florida welterweight who boxed for Haiti in the 2004 Olympics after being disqualified in the US trials, ran his pro record to 16-0 in an impressive HBO debut as he overwhelmed his New Jersey opponent Miguel Figueroa (25-5-1) in posting a sixth-round TKO.

In the first round along Berto hit Figueroa with everything but the ring post, scoring a 10-8 round. With seconds left in the round he buckled Figueroa with a solid right uppercut, followed by a left that might have sent him down had the bell not intervened.

Berto piled up round after round, punishing his game opponent with an impressive arsenal of punches. By the end of the fifth, a stanza in which he landed 49 of 76 power shots, Berto was simply teeing off on his opponent, and while the sixth lasted he continued that dominance, landing 25 of the 44 power punches he sent Figueroa’s way. A left to the body/left to the jaw combination wobbled Figueroa, and when Berto waded to thud a hard right to the head that snapped Figueroa’s head sideways, referee Laurence Cole wisely intervened. The end came at 1:59 of the sixth.

Overall CompuBox stats showed Berto landing 64 jabs to Figueroa’s 26 and 129 power punches to his opponent’s 25.

Fighting as a pro for the 69th time, crowd-pleasing Texas junior welterweight Emanuel Augustus had was for him a rarity — a comparatively easy fight. A longtime stalking horse for contenders and pretenders alike, Augustus coasted to a lopsided unanimous decision over Denver’s Russell Stoner Jones in their ten-round undercard bout.

Since it was for one of those cockamamie WBC titles (the ‘Continental Americas,’ in this case), Open Scoring was also in effect for Augustus-Jones. Announcing the scores after the fourth and eighth turned out to be somewhat anticlimactic, since Augustus had won every round at both junctures to lead by 40-36 and then 80-71. (Kaczmarek, Silvi, and Woodburn even agreed on a 10-8 seventh round despite the absence of a knockdown.)

In the end Kaczmarek and Woodburn both had it a 100-89 shutout, with Silvi (who scored the last round even at 10-all) not far behind at 100-90. Augustus acquired the meaningless belt with the win, but more importantly, the victory provided him with his first three-fight win streak since 1998-99. The new Continental Americas champion is now 34-28-6, while Jones is 15-16.

Connecticut light-heavyweight Jaidon Codrington decked Thomas Reid with a short right hand in the second to score the only knockdown in their six-round prelim. All three judges — Bill Morrison, Paul Fields, and Gale Van Hoy — scored it 59-54 for Codrington, now 14-1 and 5-0 since his shocking first-round knockout by Allan Green 13 months ago. Reid dropped to 35-18-1 with the loss.

DiBella’s latest recruit, former American University basketball star Ronald (Son of Tommy) Hearns, starched late substitute Robert Smallwood, dropping the Missouri super-middleweight three (and, probably, four) times in less than three minutes en route to a first-round TKO.

Hearns’ performance was impressive enough, though how much of it was due to the ineptitude of his opponent remains open to question. Less than a minute into the fight, he hurt Smallwood with a right-hand body shot, and then put him down with a left-right combination. Another right to the body followed by a right to the head sent Smallwood down for the second time, after which Hearns knocked his opponent right through the ropes with yet another right.

Although Smallwood was completely outside the ring except for his lower legs, which were draped over the bottom rope strand, Garza declined to give him a count and in fact helped him back into the ring, but no sooner had the referee wiped off the gloves than a Hearns left knocked his foe right back from where he had come. This time, with Smallwood once again precariously perched on the apron with only his feet still in the ring, Garza halted the one-sided slaughter at 2:55 of the round. Hearns went to 9-0 in his DiBella debut, while Smallwood fell to 4-3-2

When Dominick Guinn dropped Zack Page with a left hook late in the first round, it appeared he might make an early night of it, but the Arkansas heavyweight quickly regressed into his all-too-familiar listless mode. Page not only clawed his way back into the fight, but won it on the card of one ringside judge (Fields; 76-75). That verdict was offset by the other two officials, as David Sutherland scored it 77-74 and Van Hoy an unconscionable 79-72, allowing Guinn to escape with a split decision. Guinn is now 27-4-1, Page 11-9-1.

It was also a pretty good night for the Fighting Smiths of Little Rock. Heavyweight Terry Smith had to work for it, but came up on the right end of a unanimous decision over his much larger opponent, 256-pound Georgian Ramon Hayes. Smith  (29-2-1) won by scores of 79-73 on the cards of judges Fields and Bill Morrison, 78-74 on Sutherland’s. Although there were no knockdowns, Hayes (15-22-1) made sure Smith knew he’d been in fight. The hometowner was puffy around both eyes from the third round on.

In another early Smith bout, light-heavyweight Ray Smith (6-0, and unrelated to Terry) won a unanimous decision over Pennsylvania journeyman Randy Pogue (8-6-1), with each of the three judges — Fields, Morrison, and Sutherland — scoring it 40-36 for Smith.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
ALLTEL ARENA
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
December 9, 2006

MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Jermain Taylor, 159½, Little Rock, Ark. dec. Kassim Ouma, 158¾, Kampala, Uganda (12) (Retains WBC, WBO, and WBA ‘super’ titles)

HEAVYWEIGHTS:  Dominick Guinn, 229, Hot Springs, Ark. dec. Zack Page, 203¼, Warren, Ohio (8)

Terry Smith, 225 ¾, Little Rock, Ark. dec. Ramon Hayes, 256¼, Athens, Ga. (8)

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Ray Smith, 175½, Little Rock, Ark. dec. Randy Pogue, 175¼, Norristown, Pa. (4)

Jaidon Codrington, 173½, Bridgeport, Conn. dec. Thomas Reid, 174, Jackson, Tenn. (6)

SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Ronald Hearns, 163½, Detroit, Mich. TKO’d Robert Smallwood, 164¼, St. Joseph, Mo. (1)

WELTERWEIGHTS: Andre Berto, 146¼, Winter Haven, Fla. TKO’d Miguel FIguereoa, 146¾, Camden, NJ (6)

JUNIOR WELTERS: Emanuel Augustus, 138 ½, Brownsville, Tex. dec. Russell Jones, 140, Denver, Colo. (10) (Wins vacant WBC Continental Americas title)

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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