Norris disqualified after illegal punch

April 09, 1995|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Ring history repeated itself in the most bizarre fashion at Caesars Palace last night when junior middleweight Terry Norris, of Campo, Calif., was disqualified -- for the second straight time -- for knocking out World Boxing Council champion Luis Santana with an illegal punch long after the bell had ended the third round.

Norris, a 12-1 favorite, dominated the first three rounds, flooring Santana in both the second and third rounds.

The Dominican native had a glazed expression on his bloodied face when the bell ended the third round. And when referee Kenny Bayliss stepped aside, Norris delivered a brutal right to the side of Santana's head.

Santana quickly sagged to the canvas and did not rise for close to seven minutes, when a stretcher was summoned. He was removed from the ring, wearing an oxygen mask.

Ringside physician Flip Homansky said Santana responded well to questions while lying prone in a neutral corner. He was taken to Valley Hospital for observation. Nursing supervisor Lori Tierney reported the 35-year-old fighter was in stable condition.

After a brief conference in mid-ring, Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Marc Ratner said that Bayliss disqualified Norris "for an intentional foul" that made it impossible for Santana to continue fighting.

Incredibly, a similar incident took place in Mexico City last November when Norris lost his WBC crown to Santana, who was carried from the ring in the fifth round after being knocked out by a punch behind the head that was ruled illegal by referee Mitch Halpern.

Norris accused Santana of faking the injury in the first fight on orders from his cornermen.

"He had a smile on his face when they carried him from the ring," Norris said.

Because of the strange circumstances, the WBC ordered a rematch.

But this time, Norris could offer no excuse. It was a blatant foul, and the crowd booed lustily when he left the ring.

"I didn't know the round was over," Norris said. "I didn't hear the bell. The referee said to step back. I was ready and hit him a good shot."

Santana's handlers demanded suitable punishment for Norris.

"I think Norris should be banned for life from boxing," said manager Grant Elvis Phillips. "To win this way makes me sick. We will never fight him again."

Said Ratner, "A disqualification is worse for a fighter than any fine or suspension might be."

Norris also could be penalized by the WBC by being dropped from its rankings.

"I'm very disappointed the way it ended," said Jose Sulaiman. "We will review the tapes, and give the information and our board of directors will make a decision."

According to Ratner, Bayliss was cautioning Santana about hitting below the belt when Norris delivered the final punch.

Norris (38-6), who was in line to fight the winner of the Vincent Pettway-Simon Brown IBF championship fight April 29 in Landover, recently fired longtime manager Joe Sayatovich over financial matters.

In earlier bouts, heavyweight Francois Botha, of South Africa, rated No. 3 by both the WBC and WBA despite not having a recognizable victim on his unblemished 35-0 record, was exposed as a plodding journeyman in his preliminary bout with ZTC Willie Jake (10-6-2), of Indianapolis.

Botha, a member of promoter Don King's stable of heavyweights, had been mentioned as a possible test this year for former champion Mike Tyson, launching his comeback after three years in jail. But it will be difficult for even King to sell Botha as a worthy opponent after his lackluster effort.

The crowd hooted in protest when the three judges gave Botha a lopsided eight-round decision. In fact, the fight was originally scheduled for 10 rounds, but shortened because of the lack of action.Unbeaten Felix Trinidad, of Puerto Rico, considered one of boxing's bright young superstars, needed less than two rounds to stop Roger Turner, of Indianapolis, in the sixth defense of his International Boxing Federation welterweight title.

Trinidad, 22, dropped Turner with a vicious left hook in the second round. Turner barely beat the 10 count, and appeared wobbly.

Referee Mitch Halpern allowed him to continue, but when Trinidad delivered several more solid punches, Halpern stopped at 2:28 of the round.

The quick victory lifted Trinidad's record to 26-0, with 22 knockouts. Turner dropped to 29-3.

Trinidad's next major fight could come against WBC welterweight king Pernell Whitaker.

"I know Whitaker was watching and will answer Trinidad's challenge," said Don King. "I will put the fight on anytime they're ready."

?3 Whitaker is promoted by King's rival, Dan Duva.

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