Laila Ali defeats Shelly Burton

By Kirk Lang @ ringside


Laila Ali defeats Shelly Burton

In the co-feature at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Laila Ali, daughter of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, defended her WIBA and WBC super middleweight titles with a fourth-round stoppage of Shelly Burton, now 8-3. The official time was 1:58. Fighting in the same ring her father had fought Joe Frazier in the "Fight of the Century" a couple of generations ago, Laila Ali had a competitive opponent in Burton, of Las Vegas, NV. Burton, clearly not in awe of Ali’s reputation as the best pound-for-pound female boxer, took the fight to her taller opponent. 

Over the first two rounds, Ali jabbed and moved as Burton marched forward, stayed busy with her hands and kept applying pressure. In both frames, Ali didn’t really explode with shots until the final 15 seconds or so. In the third round however, she got her power punches going earlier. Halfway through the stanza, she nailed Burton with a succession of big right hands. In the latter part of the round, Ali willingly fought off the ropes near her corner and got the better of Burton. When Burton stepped away from Ali, Laila waved her in, as if to say, "Don’t move away, I’m right here."
Ali also did some fighting off the ropes in the fourth round and just like when her father got off the ropes to knock out heavyweight king George Foreman in Zaire, Africa in 1974, Laila Ali’s opponent would see the fight get stopped when "She Bee Stingin’ " got off the ropes and launched a quick-fisted assault. Ali landed three or four right hands that had Burton trying to move away from the leather coming at her. However, her attempt to evade Ali’s attack proved futile. A flurry of right hands and left hooks, with Burton not returning fire, forced Arthur Mercante, Jr. to wave the fight off. Mercante’s father, Arthur Mercante, Sr, refereed Ali-Frazier I, which took place in the same arena.

Laila Ali, who improved to 23-0 (20), said of Burton’s performance, "Up until that moment (the knockout), I thought that she did a good job."


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