Laila Ali and Leticia Robinson win

24.09.04 - By Coach Tim Walker: As anticipated Laila Ali knocked out Gwendolyn OíNeil in the third round to become the new IWBF light heavyweight champion at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta. OíNeil was obviously outgunned but made it a better fight than Aliís last two opponents by taking the fight to Ali. Unfortunately for OíNeil she had only enough steam to pump her engines for about 60 seconds.

Ali showed again that not only is she talented but she is also smart. She endured OíNeilís onslaught of punches by going into defensive mode as she was pressed against the ropes. Once she sensed that OíNeil had punched herself out she started tattooing her with clean down the middle punches.

In round two Ali was totally in control of the pace and the action. After some brilliant body work Ali countered one of OíNeilís lazy jabs with a textbook overhand right that unsettled OíNeilís knees and sent her to the canvas. Although OíNeil did recover it didnít take long before Ali countered a second lazy jab with another over hand right. This punch produced the same result as the previous shot and sent OíNeil to the canvas again.

There has never been any question as to how Ali fights once she gets a boxer hurt. She is a tremendous closer and did not disappoint the crowd going into the third round. As the round started Ali approached in her patented stance and trounced OíNeil with upstairs and downstairs combinations. To OíNeilís credit she tried to fight back but this was just not her night. With only a few seconds left in the third round OíNeil was caught with another Ali overhand right. With very little steam and very little hope left OíNeil accepted her fate and watched as the referee counted her out.

The win brings Aliís record up to (19-0, 16 KOs). OíNeil falls back with (9-4-1, 6 KOs) but will retain the WIBA light heavyweight title which was not on the line for this fight.

Still unclear is who will be Aliís next challenger. Virtually every female boxer within three weight classes is calling her out and there are a few opponents who could offer Ali a substantial challenge. One of which, Letecia Robinson, defeated a game Valerie Mahfood on the under card for the IBA Continental Championship. Other names that have come up as potential challengers for Ali are Anne Wolfe, largely considered the second best female boxer in the world, and Jackie Frazier-Lyde whom Ali defeated unanimously in 2001. Reportedly, Frazier-Lyde is the front runner.

Article posted on 25.09.2004

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