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Articles of 2007

A Kind of Requiem

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When news of Mike Tyson’s arrest in Arizona  became public knowledge, the media’s response was entirely uniform and entirely predictable. There was no sense of either shock or awe but the coverage was permeated with a steady sense of inevitability. And, as is usual with any gambit involving Mike Tyson, it was not reported on the sports pages but amidst the mainstream news.

If accounts of Tyson’s life are reported with the shrug and salaciousness of inevitability, then it’s because Tyson’s fate has been inevitable.

His early life is a textbook case of a dysfunctional adult being produced by a dysfunctional family. Within two years of his birth, Tyson was left with no father after Jimmy Kirkpatrick fled the family home and his mother, amid her own problems, struggled to raise her family on welfare.

Born in Brownsville, New York, there was nothing in Tyson’s earlier years that did anything to soothe his growing rage; when teased for his lisping voice, he would respond with sudden and brutal violence. He was feared by the age of ten, a street thug who carried out muggings. Arrests led to stints in juvenile institutions. In Brownsville, crime was worn as a badge of honor rather than a cloak of shame.

Enter Cus D’Amato. D’Amato saw in Tyson a future heavyweight champion and a fighter who could make the old master great again. In this respect, D’Amato was the first in a long line of smarter, older men for whom Tyson’s success was bound tightly into their own interests.

D’Amato was better than what had come before but his affections were tied up in the achievements of his boxing protégés. D’Amato took Tyson into the ring almost immediately by entering him in smokers and although the competitions were for trophies their significance to Tyson was much deeper, profound and ultimately disturbing – he felt loved only when he won.

There is a videotape of Tyson in his teenage years that belies his emotional state at the time. It’s shot from a distance, focused on the back of him and a trainer as they stand outside. Tyson is about to compete in the Junior Olympics. Up to now, he has been destroying every opponent that has been put in front of him. One fight hasn’t lasted thirty seconds before the opposite corner pull their man out. The rumor going around the boxing teams – a rumor encouraged, if not started by D’Amato – is that Tyson is the nephew of Sonny Liston. But in the video, Tyson is crying. He’s scared that if he loses no one will love him. The trainer tells him not to worry; he’s going to win.

The course of his teenage years taught Tyson that if he could control what happened in the ring, he could also control what happened outside it. If this dynamic was true in the relatively safe enclave of D’Amato’s camp and home in the Catskill Mountains, it was quickly proven false when Tyson was let out onto the world.

Boxing was in one of its periodic lulls since the decline and retirement of Muhammad Ali and its landscape was a multitude of mediocre and underachieving heavyweights attempting to coast from one payday to another. The fragmentation of the world championship, an ugly, short-sighted process that still harms the sport, lined pockets and alienated the public. Without a central, dominant figure, boxing looked both anachronistic and, most worryingly, boring. The linear champions were Larry Holmes and then Michael Spinks. Holmes was viewed as dull and plodding, reigning in the wake of the effervescent Ali and the glorious heavyweight decade of the seventies. The transfer of power between Ali and Holmes had occurred when Ali was a shadow of himself and, in beating an aged Ali, Holmes only fostered the feeling among fight fans that the prime Ali would have beaten the younger pretender. Spinks was a blown-up light-heavyweight who gained the linear title in disputed fashion was too skittish for the mainstream. The fact that a relatively small man was ruling the heavies deepened the public conviction that the division was in a mire. The fragmented title was passed around like snacks at a party as each paper champion tried to make the most of the last vestiges of prestige that came with the title of “world champion.”

Tyson was both born of and suited for his times. He not only seemed invulnerable, but invincible. He didn’t just fight his opponents; he destroyed them, and seemed to take delight in it: Michael Spinks went in one round, Trevor Berbick in two, Larry Holmes in four. Seemingly overnight, the Iron Mike era began. Tyson, due to his dominance, found himself compared not to the peers that he was destroying but to the great fighters of yesteryear. The question was not who was good enough to beat the young champion but who was good enough merely to survive against him.

Even before he became a champion, Tyson was a celebrity, a status that has for him been a double-edged sword. His inner circles and the masses loved him although, as before, the love was conditional. Some people wanted and got fame by association, some wanted money and some just wanted the buzz that came from being around celebrity. Tyson welcomed them in with his obscene wealth. For money and love, there was always tomorrow’s promise of more to come and, for a while, it did.

Tyson, for all his physical maturity, was still not much more than a boy, and he would continue to be drawn to older men, all of whom made money off him. Bill Cayton and Jim Jacobs led him after the death of D’Amato and made a lot of money for themselves. Don King swayed Tyson with rhetoric and promises, took him from Cayton and Jacobs, and turned him into a global superstar. Needless to say, King, for whom benevolence towards his fighters has never been seen as one of his attributes, saw healthy profits from the partnership. A wife and her mother came, left with a lot of money, and then things really got out of hand.

If Tyson has been suckered by the fallacy of keeping everything ordered within the ring, its hard truth began to become more apparent. As his life beyond the ropes lurched, like a staggering drunk about to go down, from one crisis to another, his control within the ropes started to deteriorate and he relied on his natural attributes to bring him through as his skills slipped.

Consciously or unconsciously, everyone was prepared for a car crash. What they got instead were two. The first was in a ring in Tokyo, the second was a hotel room in Indiana. No matter what had been happening before, Tyson had always managed to control one facet of his life even if the other looked about to descend into chaos. What happened in those two places blew the wheels off the bandwagon.

When Tyson could fight again, the bandwagon rolled once more but most people wanted and expected the wheels to be blown off again. Tyson, quite simply, never looked as invulnerable as he had during his prime years. As a boxer, he was finished by the age of thirty. If people knew it, they looked away. If Tyson had chosen to leave then, he lacked the skills to make a life away from boxing. His education, non-existent in Brownsville and ruthlessly focused in the Catskills, prepared him solely to hurt others, gaining him a set of skills that are useless outside boxing. So he stayed where he was and instead he went from an elite athlete to a celebrity one. A few people noticed but most, again, looked away. The magic had gone, draining away as the main attraction became the sideshow.

No one told him when he’d had enough. No one had ever told him “no” before. If they had, he would have gotten rid of them. Trainers came and went, as did another wife, as did his money. He remained big box office because of his past but the last few fights he had weren’t supposed to be competitive and he still lost most of them.

Lennox Lewis bolstered his own reputation by beating him in Memphis. Clifford Etienne put up a nominal resistance, laid down in the first and then spectacularly screwed up his own life. While the winds howled outside, Danny Williams, a fighter who a peak Tyson wouldn’t have let leave the ring alive, survived an early onslaught in Kentucky, made Tyson quit and now lives off that moment of reflected glory when the fighter formerly known as “Iron” Mike was ripe for the taking. The final end, which came long after he was finished as an athlete, occurred on a stool in Washington D.C. when he quit ignominiously against Kevin McBride.

For now Tyson lives in an exile of his own choosing, hiding away somewhere in Arizona. He’s washed-up, used-up and damaged. When he was arrested in Scottsdale, he told the officer during the interview that he was unable to roll a joint and had to rely on others to do it for him. Rewind a few years to a medical report completed in Nevada. The doctors reported that Tyson had difficulties in fine motor function and short-term memory. It’s not a big leap of the imagination to suggest that his former profession has physically damaged Tyson if he lacks the coordination now to roll a joint. Factor in the years of exploitation, pain and physical damage that followed his childhood and can it any surprise that Tyson has ended up where he is? Everybody sensed that this was inevitable, destined to happen and now we’ve been proven right.

Going from rags to riches and then back again is a narrative typical of boxing. It doesn’t take much research to prove this point: Joe Louis reduced to being a greeter at a Vegas hotel; Jimmy Young, forever scuffling, fighting here and there in ever decreasing circles running towards oblivion; or Jerry Quarry who took pride in always coming forwards, left as defenseless as a child with nothing of his winnings. Even Sugar Ray Robinson, the greatest of the greats, couldn’t escape this conclusion of having less money at the end of his career than he deserved for the beatings he took through it.

Boxing, like all sports, crosses the social boundaries of wealth. Traditionally and historically, it draws its participants from the working- and under-classes. Historically, it was a symbol of opportunity, a way out of poverty but with the advent of social security, of “no child left behind,” it has become an anachronism, a remnant of an earlier age.

Thirty-five is a young age but the majority of boxers are spent by the time they reach this point. Muhammad Ali was as was Tyson, Joe Louis and countless others. And yet they carry on in the ring long after they should have left. After the fighting, holding onto their money becomes the boxer’s final round.

Gloves, ropes and rounds add a civilized veneer to a savage art. Such measures make boxing more palatable on the surface but implicit savagery is left untouched and consequently unquestioned.

Tyson, for all his mistakes and transgressions, is as much a victim of this as any other fighter, maybe even more so.

“A sport? If there was headroom, they’d hold these things in sewers.” Requiem for a Heavyweight

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Articles of 2007

Pavlik Or 'Money': Fighter of the Year Is…

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There’s nothing like the terror felt when you have a big black bear snarling and snorting and hunting you down, eager to stuff your tender head into his mouth, to make you run as fast as you’ve ever run.

Thanks, Dana White, aka the big black bear.

Thanks for waking up the semi-slumbering powers that be, and forcing them to acknowledge that boxing needed to step up its game, or be eaten alive, and shifted even further back in the sports world’s relevance race, in 2007.

With UFC threatening to snarf up those much lusted after PPV dollars, the suits went into overdrive, and worked smarter, and harder, to give fans compelling matchups.

They agreed to get along to get money, and they relegated the sanctioning bodies, with those moronic mandatories, and instead listened to you, the consumer, and booked the fights that made sense.

Nobody worked smarter or harder than the PR arms for HBO, and “Money” Mayweather, the artist formerly known as Pretty Boy Floyd. Through his appearance on the ABC reality dance competition “Dancing with the Stars,” and stubbornly effective marketing by HBO (24/7 before the De La Hoy and Hatton showdowns were masterful mini-movies which whet appetites of even non fight fans), “Money” emerged as a pay per view attraction who can take the baton as the premier earner from Oscar De La Hoya.

He transcended the sport, and boxing added another player to the mix of fighters that even non-fight fans in the US recognize the name of. Now there’s Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, and Floyd Mayweather…

Boxing, a sprawling mess of interests lacking a central organization that insures cohesiveness in marketing, and message, and mission, relies on a central figurehead to maintain its precarious perch in the mainstream sports information flow. Mayweather, a savvy marketer who has outgrown his periodic outbreaks of youthful indiscretions, is a superstar that fits our age to a T.

He knows exactly what buttons to push to keep his name in the papers-—or, more accurately today, on computer screens—and feeds us rabid presshounds of negativity and turmoil red meat, with his intra-familial beefs and 50 Cent-inspired rants proclaiming his peerlessness.

The only thing holding Mayweather back is his own talent, probably, as he owns too much of it. He blew out De La Hoya, and Hatton, and like Roy Jones in his heyday, he so dominates his opposition, that drama is missing from his fights. Most of us tune in to the sport to savor the drama that comes from one man reaching deep into the well of heart and guts to bring forth reserves even he didn’t know he possesses, and imposing his will on an opponent who had been imposing his will upon him. That sort of drama, as manufactured by the late Diego Corrales, is the variety that the sweet science can deliver like no other sport.

We saw it in excess in 2007, from my personal choice for 2007 Fighter of the Year, Ohio’s Kelly Pavlik.

He dug into his well, after getting knocked to the floor in the second round of his tussle with middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, and refused to lose.

All of us could apply his tenacity in staying on his feet, and roaring back to topple Taylor with a furious flurry in the seventh round of their Sept. 29 battle, in our own lives. We all could identify with, and root for, the TSS Fighter of the Year.

One could argue that Mayweather, with ultra high profile wins over De La Hoya and Hatton, who did as much as anyone to keep the sport relevant in the last 12 months, deserves the TSS FOTY honor. As referenced before, maybe his superior level of talent has set the bar too high for us nitpickers. We may be prone to be too hesitant to bestow praise on Floyd, because he makes it look too easy. Sorry, Money, it’s possible you are being penalized for just being too damned good. You certainly are the runaway frontrunner for Fighter of the Decade…

Pavlik, we didn’t know how good he was coming in to this year. We knew how good his promoter, Bob Arum, thought he was. But we reserved judgment, unwilling to make too much of wins over Lenord Pierre and Bronco McKart. We became believers, to a point, when the Ohio native showed boxing skill and a closer’s mentality with his January win over Jose Luis Zertuche (KO8), and true believers with his dominant march over Edison Miranda (TKO7), the heavily hyped Colombian who was no match for the Youngstown hitter’s work rate in their May match.

But we still withheld a measure of respect before Pavlik met Taylor, the middleweight king, in Atlantic City. Maybe we had been burned by (not as great as we were led to believe) white hopes in the past, and were worried that hype and marketing were his greatest attributes as a boxer. The respect came pouring forth when he stayed on his trembling legs in the second round of his September scrap with Taylor, and intensified when he closed the show with a KO crack in the seventh.

The fighter has to be rewarded for staying the course, and not allowing himself to be knocked off the title path since turning pro in 2000, and progressing at a sometimes snailish pace, and sticking with his no-name trainer Jack Loew even though some experts urged him to trade Loew in for a flashier model, and battling frail hands, and getting pinched for slugging an off-duty cop in 2005.

Pavlik’s rise in 2007 came the old fashioned way, via training his tail off, and staying on message mentally, and rising to the occasion when the situation offered a softer, easier choice.

There was no mega marketing machine bombarding our short attention spans with a campaign to make Kelly Pavlik into the torchbearer for the sport in 2007.

But the 2007 leg of his march to prominence reaffirms the best of what the sport has to offer, and reminds us that with talents like Pavlik, the sweet science will never crumble into obsolescence.

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Articles of 2007

Resolution Time For Harold Sconiers

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When Harold Sconiers of Tampa, Florida, looks in the mirror these days he doesn’t see the journeyman heavyweight with a 15-17-2 (10 KOs) record that most other people do.

What he sees is the dynamic, hard-hitting heavyweight who made it to the finals of the 1996 Olympic Trials, and began his pro career with six straight knockouts and one decision victory.

Since being stopped in the first round by then undefeated Bermane Stiverne, who had won all nine of his fights by knockout, in February 2007, Sconiers has completely reassessed his life and career.

He has come to understand what transformed him from an exciting amateur and fledgling young pro with seemingly limitless future to a nominal heavyweight who had at one point lost 10 fights in a row.

Now aligned with a new manager, David Selwyn of New York, he plans on utilizing that newfound knowledge to embark on what he believes will be the comeback story of 2008.

“I always knew I had a lot of talent, but I never let that talent completely develop,” said the 31-year-old Sconiers, who has lost to such notables as Clifford Etienne, Maurice Harris, Donovan “Razor” Ruddock, David Defiagbon, DaVarryl Williamson and Eric Kirkland.

“I had a lot of different problems, but my biggest problems were self doubt and self sabotage. I would do things to make sure I never rose above a certain level.”

During his intensive, exhaustive and brutally honest re-examination of himself, he chose to forego all of the negative aspects of his career and instead focus only on the positive. Through lots of reading and candid discussions with his former trainer Larry Berrien, he went about changing the mindset that made him so comfortable with losing.

The first thing he did was look at his complete record from a totally different perspective. Rather than just dwell on the losses, Sconiers lauded himself for beating six previously unbeaten or once beaten fighters. Among them was Ray Austin, who was 14-1 at the time and later challenged Wladimir Klitschko for the heavyweight title.

He also fought Edward Escobedo, who was 12-1, to a draw, and lost a split decision to Ruddock, who has always been a formidable ring presence.

When he examined his 10 fight losing streak, he realized that his opponents had a combined record of 164-32-8. Of the 32 losses, Harris, who had revitalized his once dismal career in much the same way Sconiers hopes to, had incurred 10 of them.

And the always competitive Sherman Williams, accounted for another 10, which means eight other opponents had only 12 losses between them. Several were undefeated at the time they faced Sconiers.

“Losing to all of those guys gave the boxing world the perception that I was washed up and just didn’t care anymore,” said Sconiers. “I realized I had to change that perception, and the only way to change it was to change my old habits and my old ways of thinking, dissect everything I’d been doing wrong, and working really hard to establish a new belief system.”

Tapping deep into his own psyche, Sconiers came to realize that much of his lack of self worth was rooted in childhood issues. As a kid he had a passive personality, and both of his parents were college graduates who held what he calls high ranking positions in the corporate world.

He was bright enough to skip grades in school and he scored high on IQ tests. In no way was he destined to become a boxer. His parents had told him on many occasions that he would be well-suited as psychiatrist or attorney.

His life changed when his father held a Mike Tyson fight party at the family home. To say that Sconiers was mesmerized would be a gross understatement.

“I was instantly locked in,” said Sconiers. “I told myself that I have to do this.”

Sconiers ventured to the Frontline Outreach Gym in Orlando, where he met Antonio Tarver, who was roaring through the amateur ranks en route to the 1996 Olympics. Because Tarver was a few years older than Sconiers, he became a surrogate big brother to him. To this day, Sconiers has the utmost respect for Tarver as both a fighter and a friend.

During Sconiers’ amateur career, which consisted of 77 fights, of which he lost 9, his mother continuously reminded him that, in her opinion, “boxing was for dummies.”

Still, he managed to win a silver medal in the 1996 U.S. Nationals, where he beat eventual Olympic representative and future heavyweight title challenger Calvin Brock, as well as the finals of the 1996 Olympic Trials. In that tournament he lost to Williamson and Lamon Brewster.

When his pro career began to get derailed, the young and immature Sconiers blamed everyone but himself for his shift in fortune.

“I thought the problem was outside me, and thought everyone was responsible but me,” he said. “I dumped Larry in order to self-manage myself. I left what had always kept me grounded. Some of the fights I lost I could or should have won. There’s no way I should have lost to Etienne, but all I did was show up. The Ruddock fight should have been mine.”

As Sconiers lost interest and motivation, he also began dabbling in drugs and alcohol. More times than not, he would take fights on short notice. Even if he had time to train, he never cared if his opponents were switched or where he was lacing them up. Resigned to the fact that he was just fighting for money, he didn’t train hard, if at all.

He’d also pick up a few dollars working as a sparring partner for the likes of Etienne, Shannon Briggs, Jameel McCline, Larry Donald and Kirk Johnson, but the passion was gone. Many of those fighters, as well as their trainers, told Sconiers to snap out of his trance because he was a lot better fighter than he gave himself credit for.

While working with Etienne, the esteemed trainer Don Turner told Sconiers he could make him heavyweight champion of the world if only he’d “get his (stuff) together.”

Sconiers said he was at his personal abyss in mid-2003, when he was stopped by Kirkland, who was 16-1, in the first round in Vallejo, California.

“That was a real bad time for me,” he said. “I was up all night using drugs and alcohol and just didn’t care about anything.”

Although it would be nearly four more years before Sconiers embarked on his personal renaissance, when he looks back on his sordid past that is his most vivid memory. He has learned to use that memory to his advantage.

“A lot of people go down the same route I did and destroy themselves completely,” he said. “I was close to that point around the time of the Kirkland fight, but managed to survive another four years. It is so obvious to me now that I was trying to destroy myself.”

Sconiers is the first to concede that once you fall into the role of an opponent, it is hard to extricate yourself.

“A lot of guys go through this and fall by the wayside,” he said. “Look at Emanuel Burton (Augustus). He’s an immensely talented guy who’s good enough to be competitive and probably beat anyone. But he is in that opponent role, which is hard to snap out of.”

Having done lots of reading on positive thinking and overcoming psychological roadblocks, as well as completely revising his physical training regimen, Sconiers believes he has snapped out of it.

Besides the steadfast support of his beloved wife of six years, Jennifer, who just earned her master’s degree, he believes that his association with Selwyn is a pivotal component to the success he foresees for himself.

They plan on having a momentous and memorable 2008.

“Harold says he is going to be the Cinderella Man of 2008,” said Selwyn. “We plan on keeping a very busy schedule. History has shown that heavyweights are always just a few wins away from redemption. At his best, Harold is very good. It is undeniable that he was his own worst enemy in the past. Now he believes in himself, Larry believes in him, and I believe in him. I’m really looking forward to working with him so he can reach his full potential.”

“We plan on a busy schedule and a lot of upsets,” added Sconiers. “After my first couple of wins, people will probably say they were a fluke. I’m not quite the Cinderella Man and I’m not quite Rocky, but I am an underdog who can make it. Hope sells in boxing, and I plan on being one of the biggest stories of the new year.”

Manager Dave Selwyn can be contacted at: Boxingkid@aol.com or 845-893-2829.

*photo courtesy Harold Sconiers

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Articles of 2007

St-Pierre, Liddell, Clementi Win @ UFC 79

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LAS VEGAS-A reinvented Georges St. Pierre proved he’s ready for the true Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title with a dominating win over Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell returned to the win column in his big showdown on Saturday.

St. Pierre took the final chapter in the trilogy with Hughes and now is the UFC interim champion at the 170-pound division.

Hughes just shook his head after tapping out before a sold out audience at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It was called “Nemesis” and St. Pierre conquered his nemesis.

“Georges is just a better fighter,” said Hughes (43-6) who beat St. Pierre several years ago, but lost two years ago in a title match. “I just don’t know how much longer I got.”

St. Pierre (15-2) found Hughes using a left-handed stance to change up his attack, but the Canadian quickly adapted and used his quickness, skills and raw strength to take Hughes to the ground.

“If it wasn’t for my wrestling training I wouldn’t have been able to adjust,” said St. Pierre who had been preparing to represent Canada’s Olympic wrestling team.

Inside the Octagon the Canadian was never in danger. In fact, Hughes was the fighter teetering for the entire fight that ended in 4:54 of the second round.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

Hughes, known for his wrestling skills, just couldn’t solve St. Pierre’s quickness. Every move the Illinois fighter attempted was squashed.

St. Pierre is now promised a fight against the current UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra, who pulled out of the fight with Hughes because of injury.

“If I don’t get my belt back, I’m going to consider myself champion,” said St. Pierre filled in for Serra with less than a month of training.

After dominating the first round on top of Hughes, the second round was even worse as St. Pierre landed elbows and fists. Though the Illinois fighter escaped from underneath, he was quickly thrown down. Within seconds St. Pierre grabbed Hughes left arm and turned it into an inescapable arm bar.

Hughes screamed out: “I tap!”

St. Pierre now awaits Serra to recover from his back injury.

The semi-main event was no less intense.

The light heavyweight showdown between Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Brazil’s Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva was a three-round punch out between two famous sluggers. In the end Liddell’s sharper punches in the first and third round decided the fight despite a knockdown in the second scored by Silva.

Silva (31-8-1) dominated the second round for four minutes and 30 seconds but Liddell rallied and took the Brazilian to the ground. Two judges were somehow impressed by Liddell’s last 30 seconds and inexplicably gave him that round.

With both fighters huffing and puffing, and Silva with a bad cut over his right eye, Liddell seemed the stronger puncher and landed a back-handed fist and a right hand that stunned the former Pride FC fighter Silva. But he survived the round.

The judges scored it 29-28, 30-27 twice for Liddell who won his first bout after back-to-back losses.

“I knew it was a big fight for everybody and especially for me to get back on track,” said Liddell (21-5). “He had a lot more than I thought he had.”

Silva, who was making his first UFC appearance, was gracious in defeat.

“He won,” said Silva. “I gave my best.”

Temecula’s Rameau Sokoudjou fell short against Brazil’s undefeated Lyoto Machida (12-0) in their light heavyweight contest. The Cameroon native was unable to use his punching power with effectiveness against the karate-trained fighter. Then, unexpectedly, Machida landed a left hand that dropped Sokoudjou (4-2) and proceeded to gain an arm triangle that forced a submission at 4:20 of the second round.

“I’ve been working on my ground game,” said Machida who wants a world title match. “I beat the Alaska assassin, the African assassin, what other assassins are left?”

A heavyweight bout featured two Southern Californians eager to punch out. But San Diego’s Eddie “Manic Hispanic” Sanchez’s experience proved decisive in beating Temecula’s Soa Palelei (8-2) with uppercuts for three rounds. With his nose bleeding profusely and sustaining three consecutive uppercuts, referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight at 3:24 of the third and final round for a technical knockout.

“He was out of gas,” said Sanchez (10-1). “He was always putting his head down.”

Undercard

A grudge fight between two Louisiana fighters ended in a decisive submission victory by Rich Clementi of Slidell over the favored Melvin Guillard of New Orleans. A rear naked choke at 4:40 seconds of the first round forced Guillard, who had been predicting domination, to tap out. Though the fight was definitively over, Guillard attempted to assault Clementi but referee Herb Dean grabbed the fighter.

“He still didn’t learn his lesson,” said Clementi after Guillard attempted to rush him after the fight. “I validated what he’s known for six years, I’m the better man.”

James “The Sandman” Irvin (13-5-1) was nearly put to sleep by an illegal knee to the eye from Brazil’s newcomer Luis Cane (8-1) in the first round of a light heavyweight fight. Unable to continue, Irvin was declared the winner by disqualification at 1:51. Cane seemed unaware that UFC rules disallow knees to the head while the person is on the ground. Some mixed martial arts organizations allow it.

Former Ultimate Fighter participant Manny Gamburyan (6-3) quickly took his fight to the ground with former boxer Nate Mohr (6-5). Once on the ground the lightweight used his quickness to grab an ankle and twist. Mohr screamed to stop the fight at 1:31 of the first round.

“I’m so sorry for you man,” said Gamburyan who suspects he broke Mohr’s leg. “Nate’s a great guy.”

San Diego’s Dean Lister (10-5) scraped out a unanimous decision win over Bulgaria’s punch-crazy Jordan Rachev (16-2) in a middleweight bout. The judges scored it 29-28 for Lister.

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