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Is Amir Khan Overrated? Is He Still A Future Superstar? Questions About Khan

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Is Amir Khan Overrated? Is He Still A Future Superstar? Questions About Khan – TSS gives referee Joe Cooper a thumbs down for his performance on Saturday night. Taking two points for Khan for pushing was going overboard, and reeked of home cooking. TSS Universe, reffing aside, what was your take on Khan’s outing? (Hogan)

It may be reassessment time about Amir Kahn.

Is Khan a next generation superstar? Is he what many thought he was? Has he been overrated? Is he not a future, slam-dunk superstar and pay-per-view driver? Is he less than the sum of his parts?

Or maybe the questions don’t have to go in that direction. Maybe, based on his Saturday showing against Lamont Peterson, in which Peterson at the very least enjoyed some slight hospitality, or at most was handed a win by officials who were pre-disposed to giving him every edge against the invader from overseas, maybe Khan is right about where we thought he was. Maybe it’s Peterson who had a step-up night, who went above and beyond what he’d been able to do in the ring before, and who elevated himself. Maybe he deserves buckets of credit and that should be the focus of our post-fight analysis.

I’m certainly inclined to at the very least wonder where the heck Khan (26-2) goes from here. The kid, and let’s not forget, he is “only” 25, and has room to grow in the seasoning department, was talking mega-bouts before this one. He was on the short list to hit the Mayweather lottery. I think we can agree that was premature. That could still happen, but first Khan has to be able to handle a Lamont Peterson (30-1-1).

I really moved into a lead cheerleading car on Khan when I saw what he did to Paul Malignaggi in May 2010. His rhythm, reach, strategy, composure, I loved it all in that TKO11 win against Paulie in New York. And anyone having leftover questions about his chin probably was satisfied when he ate bombs from Marcos Maidana in his next outing, in December 2010. Yep, Khan was deservedly being talked about as a short-list superstar. But then, in my view, he took a little back-step. Yes, he won like every second of every round against Paul McCloskey. But it was a semi-stinker of an affair in his homebase of Lancashire, that technical decision win. I wanted to see more accuracy from Khan, would’ve liked to see less wild swinging, fewer three punch combos which feature two misses and one landed punch. The tendency to flurry and then dart away, what about sticking around, doing some in-close work, getting a tad more comfortable in that mode? Hey, I know that isn’t for everyone, maybe I’m just being too critical…And I knew McCloskey was a survivor, a bit of a cutie, wasn’t going to open up and make many mistakes. But he’s Paul McCloskey, not to be a punk. Shouldn’t a next gen superstar more so have his way with him?

Khan next gloved up against Zab Judah, this July,  and that fight will mostly be remembered for Judah reverting to form, for the Brooklyn guy looking for reasons to jet, rather than retrench. Khan sometimes did his flurry and fall in thing, showed that he is still refining his footwork and balance, still getting a handle, perhaps, on his professional style.

And then Saturday night…The Pakistani-Brit showed that long jab, which is such a weapon when he remembers to use it regularly, early. We heard that Peterson described Khan as an “energy” fighter, and that stuck with me. He often looks a little too energized, a little too buzzed, like he drank one too many Red Bulls. Is it because he fears his chin won’t hold up? Is that why he can look a little frenetic in there?

I’m never a fan of wasted movement, because it is so draining for a fighter to use his legs to hustle away from a foe, like Cotto did against Margarito in 2008, as Khan sometimes does during his fights. Perhaps, moving forward, Khan will be able to employ a mere feint, the hint of offense, to keep a foe from launching, rather than resorting to circling halfway around the ring. His stamina seems to hold up fine, but that “running” sends a bad message to judges, oftentimes. Again, let me reiterate, he could be at his peak in about three years. He is still a work in progress. This may be an exercise in excessive critique…

And Peterson is a high level pugilist. The way he strafes the left hook to the body, hard and smooth, that is an art and a science. We saw him really getting in Khan’s face, and it had me wondering if Khan possesses the pop that people think he does. If he had a shade more, that might dissuade foes from stalking him effectively. I’m not sure if he can improve his pop–punchers are born, not made, right?–but perhaps if Khan were to set down more on his shots, he could force foes to be less inclined to chase him. This might enable him to do something I think he is capable of doing more of–be the leader, be first, impose his will, dictate pace and tone. Then again, trainer Freddie Roach asks for “under and outs” all the time, so I figure he knows what Khan needs to do to be as successful as possible…

Much was said about Peterson leading with his head. He didn’t really do this a la Evander Holyfield. He’d often throw, and his head would be low, but he wasn’t using it like a missile. He smartly tucks his chin, and that will tend to make one dip their head. He also finishes up by placing his head outside his foes elbows,’ a savvy move which leaves him hard to hit.  It didn’t leap out at me on fight night, but I did notice it more upon re-watching. And, did Roach make a big deal of it during the bout? Did he lobby the ref to get Peterson to stop that? If he did, I missed it. I did see Khan lobbying the ref about the head in round 11, when he should have been concentrating on fighting. Let the K St. leeches do the lobbying, sir, you stick to boxing. Finally, a well placed uppercut, or twenty, will force an opponent to lift one’s head up, so they see that shot coming; maybe Khan wants to add that to the mix more next time. Check back to round nine, when Khan’s right uppercut stung Peterson.

That ref’s move to take a point for pushing at the tail end of round seven wasn’t hard to miss. It was ill advised, it reeked of an unfair advantage being offered to the hometown guy, and ref Joseph Cooper dropped the ball, bigtime. Yes, Amir was pushing off. Yes, that’s illegal. But fighters do it all the time, and don’t get penalized, and Khan wasn’t so egregious about it that Cooper should have injected his preferences into the decision. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a ref so focused on pushing, which is something normally you get away with,” Jim Lampley said.

I heard Roach ask Khan to put Peterson on his arse after round 11. I didn’t hear him pushing for a KO in other instances, though he texted me after and told me he did push for the stoppage. This leads me to one of my pet peeves: I really, firmly believe that it is in the best interest of trainers to push for KOs when they are fighting in the other guys’ home town. I think a trainer and fighter should go in with the assumption that the judges will screw them. I think it’s smart to demand your fighter aim for a stoppage, because judges have a long history of rewarding the local guy. Robert McCracken, are you listening?

Ref Cooper in round 12 again committed a cardinal sin, of injecting himself into the outcome on a judgment call. Peterson was up in Khan’s grill, Amir shoved him back and barked at the ref, and the ref called time, at the 1:54 mark, and took a point from Khan. It was ill advised, at best. This was a brawl, a heated tussle, and on those occasions, some form and niceties will be dispensed. Cooper messed up, bigtime, and does not deserve another marquee assignment based on his Saturday showing. But Khan did himself no favors by getting sidetracked. While Peterson was intent on staying focused on his foe, Khan had one eye on Cooper.

Then came the decision. Khan sagged, and then said to Larry Merchant after the decision that it was like fighting two people, Peterson and Cooper. He took a shot at DC for being a biased fight-town, and said he was the cleaner fighter in that bout.

At the post-fight presser, which I viewed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5r7fXnp2w6o courtesy of the ultra pros at Boricua Boxing, Khan’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya pointed out that it was a stellar fight and both boxers deserve major credit. He then took issue with the second point deduction, and said that with no deductions, Khan wins. He said all involved want a rematch, and I think mostly struck the right notes during his time at the mike.

Khan spoke after Peterson. He said that Peterson “kept his head low” and that “the referee was a bit on his side. ..He won the fight tonight,” he stated, and asked for a rematch to be in the UK. In the next breath, he said he won the fight, and said some commissioners told him it was a “disgusting” decision. He implied that the counting of the cards was shady. “We knew who won that fight!” he said in closing, asking for a rematch right away.

A writer then asked if he regretted coming to DC. Khan said no, but wants to know if Peterson will have the same cajones as him. Khan said he’d do the fight in Vegas or in the UK. He repeated his take that Cooper was against him.

“Anywhere else it would have been a winnable fight,” Khan said.

After the scrap, Team Khan and Golden Boy issued a statement indicating they would follow up in an official manner:

Firstly, we would like to congratulate Lamont Peterson on his performance against Amir Khan. Not only has he shown that he is a tremendous fighter inside the ring, but also a great man out of the ring.

Following the decision in the fight, Team Khan and Golden Boy Promotions intends to make inquiries with the District of Columbia Boxing and Wrestling Commission, the IBF and the WBA regarding the performance of referee Joseph Cooper and will also be seeking clarification regarding certain ambiguities with respect to the scores of the fight.

We look forward to an immediate rematch with Lamont as confirmed by Lamont and his manager/trainer Barry Hunter.

Golden Boy has had a run of controversial situations lately, and lodged a protest following Bernard Hopkins’ loss to Chad Dawson on Oct. 15, and Hopkins’ draw against Jean Pascal in December 2010. A few years ago, Richard Schaefer made public his view that his company was getting screwed over in tight situations, so I wonder if they again feel there is an anti Golden Boy bias?

TSS Universe, I’d like to hear from you. I tossed a lot of comments and opinions on Khan. Please offer your take. Is he overrated? What would you like to see him do more of, and less, to maximize his skills? What is his upside? Are pundits too harsh on Amir? Can he make adjustments and beat Peterson? Should he demand they fight in the UK? Weigh in, in our Forum.

Is Amir Khan Overrated? Is He Still A Future Superstar? Questions About Khan / Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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In Dismantling Povetkin, Joshua Recaptured His Swag among the Heavyweights

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He was in against a very crafty and experienced opponent in former WBA titlist Alexander Povetkin 34-2 (24). And although he was troubled by the dangerous Russian fighting small as he tried to inch his way in and time him, AJ adjusted well and started to take the initiative and dropped and stopped Povetkin in the seventh round, retaining his WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titles and thus becoming the first fighter to ever stop Povetkin, something Wladimir Klitschko failed to do.

During the fight AJ was forced back. He had to adapt to Povetkin making him punch down and that caused him to be a little tentative, especially after being bloodied from a broken nose in the first round. And early on, AJ was a little confused and busy trying to keep Povetkin occupied from outside so he couldn’t get in on him. His most effective weapon in doing such was his left jab, delivered to the head or body, although the fight really turned when he began putting his one-two together. Then after a fairly evenly-paced bout, AJ slowed some with the hope it would lure Povetkin to close in a little harder, and he did.

As Povetkin, who came to fight, became more assertive, he became more vulnerable. AJ found the openings for his big right hand and left hook. With the first really solid right hand that bounced off his chin, Povetkin buckled and instinctively went back. Joshua pursued him and then, with near Joe Louis-like accuracy, put his right hands and hooks together, along with a beautiful right to the body in the middle of the assault and finished his game opponent.

Once again it was shown that trading with AJ is almost certain suicide. Povetkin was in great shape and would’ve been a handful for any other heavyweight in the world because he no doubt brought his A-game. Sometimes it takes AJ a little while to get going, and if you don’t do anything to bother him or wake him up, he doesn’t fight with the urgency of a “Smokin” Joe Frazier. However, when you wake him up and force him to cut loose, he’s so dangerous that he doesn’t need too many clean shots to end it. And making Joshua more lethal is that he has both short and inside power in both hands.

After months of hearing how Povetkin was the most serious threat to Joshua, that’s now finished business. Prior to the bout The Ring magazine rated the top six heavyweights in the world as follows…..Joshua, Wilder, Povetkin, Ortiz, Whyte and Parker, in that order. Now Joshua is 3-0 (2) versus Povetkin, Whyte and Parker which squashes the narrative that he has fought weaker opposition than WBC title holder Deontay Wilder 40-0 (39) who has only faced Ortiz among the top six.

Today, the most widely levied criticism of any elite fighter is that he didn’t fight the best man or men in his division. Fighters can’t control who their contemporaries are but they can control fighting the best of their era. Rocky Marciano’s era wasn’t stellar, but he fought every top fighter who was in line to challenge him. Floyd Mayweather fought in a stout era – the difference is an overwhelming majority of his bouts with big name opponents were strategically manipulated so that he faced them on the downside of their career – and that’s a fact, not a theory.

Forty years after his last victory in a title fight, Muhammad Ali is respected and revered as a fighter even by those who don’t claim to be a fan of his. Why? He wasn’t the most fundamental boxer in heavyweight history nor was he the biggest puncher, and not all of his fights were edge of your seat exciting. The thing that’s often cited as to why he was a marvel is that he fought the best of the best during one of the deepest eras in heavyweight history. There were a few times between 1975-77 that he held a win over every fighter ranked among The Ring magazine’s top-10. Sure he fought a few Brian London’s and Jean Pierre Coopman’s, but London was encompassed by Sonny Liston and Ernie Terrell during the 1960s and Coopman by Joe Frazier and Ken Norton during the 1970s.

Anthony Joshua hasn’t yet sniffed the greatness of Ali on many levels, but he is on the same trajectory in regards to meeting and defeating the best of his generation. By the end of this month, the WBC heavyweight title fight between Deontay Wilder and former champ Tyson Fury will likely become official with them meeting in early December. And regardless of who wins, Joshua, if he really wants to etch a great legacy, must pressure the winner to meet him in their next bout. In addition to that, he must tell his brain, aka Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn, to forget about winning the purse war if it is the only stumbling block. If the winner of Wilder-Fury is impressive, he will have earned a 50-50 split.

During the faux negotiations between the Joshua and Wilder camps this past summer the purse split was the focal point. And prior to the prospect of Wilder and Fury meeting, Joshua clearly held the better hand based on his resume and owning three titles to Wilder’s single title.  But the Wilder-Fury winner will have closed the gap and Joshua needs to be next while the fighters are at or near their prime. The fact is Joshua versus the Wilder/Fury winner will be the most widely anticipated fight in the heavyweight division since Lewis-Tyson and maybe even since Tyson-Holyfield I. The onus is on the fighters to make it happen and they both have the clout to make sure it does, especially Joshua.

Interviewed in the ring after dispatching Povetkin, AJ said it didn’t matter to him who he fought next as long as it’s Wilder or Fury, but it was obvious that he preferred Wilder. A lot depends on how Wilder fares with Fury, but until then, here’s what we know…..Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz are about on the same level; having never faced each other, it’s a tossup as to who’d win. Both Joshua and Wilder scored impressive stoppages over Povetkin and Ortiz respectively…AJ needed seven rounds and Deontay needed ten rounds. During his bout with Ortiz, Wilder was knocked around the ring and had to endure a few big exchanges, some of which he came out second-best. Wilder was also nearly stopped in the seventh round but battled back, summoning great courage and reserve to win a fight he was losing. Against Povetkin, Joshua was more troubled than he was beaten up. And once he found his range and pace and began putting his punches together, the fight ultimately ended when AJ got off with his best stuff. In essence, Joshua was more impressive against Povetkin and had fewer close calls than did Wilder against Ortiz.

Between now and the time Wilder fights Tyson Fury, it’ll be debated as to who was more impressive – Joshua against Povetkin or Wilder against Ortiz; the answer is clearly Joshua for the reasons stated. Moreover, when analyzing a fight, A + B doesn’t equal C. Joshua will be favored over either Wilder or Fury, but probably along the line of 7-5 and nothing will change that.

The thing that emerged from Joshua dismantling Povetkin is that AJ recaptured some of the limelight and swag he ceded to Wilder this past March. AJ is again the fighter to beat in the heavyweight division and will probably get the bigger purse split regardless of whether he faces Wilder and Fury.

That said, he better not let the fight fall through over it!

Between 1977 and 1982, Frank Lotierzo had over 50 fights in the middleweight division. He trained at Joe Frazier’s gym in Philadelphia under the tutelage of the legendary George Benton. Before joining The Sweet Science his work appeared in several prominent newsstand and digital boxing magazines and he hosted “Toe-to-Toe” on ESPN Radio. Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@gmail.com

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans

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Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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