This was no ordinary debut ...
A good fight could have added to the buzz generated by the
return of the legendary Ali name. Unfortunately, lining up a totally safe opponent for Laila's debut had produced ... in April Fowler ... an out-of-shape novice who
was too easily and too rapidly flattened by the young Ali!
The bout lasted just 31 seconds and was too one-sided to establish any boxing credentials for Laila. Still, she showed some media savvy ... and a hint of things to come
... by striking a
pose reminiscent of her father as she stood over the fallen Fowler with her fist
cocked and a scowl on her face. Sweet science it wasn't, but the media lapped it
Ali won her second professional bout by TKO with 3 seconds left
on November 10, 1999 at the Mountaineer Race Track in Chester, West Virginia.
This time she was properly tested by 5'4"
from Pittsburgh, who was making her own pro debut after going 2-1 as an amateur.
Ali bloodied Pennybaker's lip and forced a standing eight count in the fourth
when she knocked Pennybaker's mouthpiece out.
A flurry of left-right combinations sent Pennybaker reeling into a
corner and produced a stoppage that was vigorously protested by Pennybaker's corner.
Although still far from emulating her father's smooth style,
Ali again borrowed from his psychological playbook ... she taunted and talked to
her opponent, and shook her head whenever Pennybaker landed well. "I had to take
my time and judge my distance," said Ali, sporting a bruise on her right
cheekbone. "This was only my second fight. I'm not going to be perfectly right
where I need to be all the time. That's why I took my time and why it went four
rounds. I'm never going to be upset if I don't lose, I'm happy that it went four
rounds because now I know what it feels like. My first fight really wasn't much
of a fight."
On December 10, 1999 at the Cobo Center Riverfront Ballroom
in Detroit, Michigan, a crowd of over 2,200 saw Ali, who weighed in at 166 lbs,
win by second-round TKO over Nicolyn Armstrong (179 lbs), who dropped to 1-4.
Ali knocked Armstrong down late in the first round with a jab, followed by three
hard rights. In the second round, Ali battered Armstrong in a corner then
knocked her flat on her back. Referee Sam Williams stopped the bout immediately,
awarding Ali the knockout. Ali is said to have earned $25,000 for this fight.
Armstrong, 31, who had won her pro debut but lost her previous three fights by
first-round KO, earned $2,500. She had to shed six pounds on the day of the
fight to meet the 179-pound weight limit.
On March 7, 2000 at Casino Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada,
Laila (160 lbs) moved to 4-0 with 4 KO's by knocking out Crystal Arcand
(169 lbs) of St. Paul, Alberta, Canada at 1:10 in the first round. Arcand,
a former Toughwoman competitor, was making her pro debut after going 5-0 in
amateur action. Arcand came out swinging wildly, Ali circled and landed a
jab-uppercut combination that sent Arcand to the canvas after just 15 seconds.
Arcand got up and Ali continued the attack,
putting Arcand on the canvas again with a straight right to the head.
Arcand got up to one knee but no further as she was counted out just
70 seconds into the bout.
"I underestimated her," Arcand said. "She's got the power and she can back
it up. I've never experienced a woman with the amount of power she has. It's
an experience and lesson for me."
"She knows what she's doing, all right," said referee Fern Chretien, a former light-weight contender from Toronto, about Ali.
"You can see
some of her dad's moves."
On April 8, 2000 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, Laila (168 lbs) got the first big scare
in her boxing career, on the way to a controversial third-round
TKO of Karen Bill (166
lbs) of Lawton, Oklahoma. Bill knocked Ali down with an uppercut in the
second round. Laila showed she had come to fight
by getting up and storming back, but she was still getting pummeled
in fierce action at round's end. The third round saw still more heated
action with both women going all out and landing cleanly until the referee
suddenly stopped the fight in Ali's favor. This drew boos from the
crowd, who had been cheering the all-out effort of both boxers.
Karen Bill had taken some punishment and was bleeding from the nose
but she was in better shape than Ali had been during the second round. Many, including an angry Bill, felt that the stoppage was premature.
Kevin Morgan, Ali's first boxing trainer in Los Angeles, had once questioned Laila's inner
toughness, noting that she had a tendency to turn her head away
from punches. "Runnin' around, like her father, ain't gonna work in women's boxing.
People want to see women fight",
he said in an interview with the New York Daily News.
Laila Ali may have answered the question of her toughness ... and begun to come of age as a boxer
... in the Karen Bill fight. Realizing
that her new career was on the line, she went right at it with the
Oklahoma fighter. Even though the questionable stoppage cast a shadow over Ali's win, this fight showed she had the heart to
get up off the canvas and carry on against an aggressive, hard-punching opponent.
Ali vs. Kristina King (King no match for Ali). WBAN was contacted by the
George Chung about this upcoming card, and we recommended Ann Wolfe who at the
same time was the same weight and about the same boxing record...(WBAN comment)
Laila Ali's next career move took her to Tian He stadium in
Guangzhou (Canton), China on April 22, 2000, where
she appeared on the first major pro boxing card in China since the
founding of the People's Republic. Laila (165 lbs) capped several days of
activity as a publicity magnet for the card by battering Kristina King (5'8",
166 lbs) to a TKO 0:37 seconds into the fourth round. King, a 30-year-old former
Toughwoman contestant from Muskegon, Michigan had won her only other
pro fight by a second-round TKO on Jan 28, 2000. However, she lacked the skills to handle
Ali's combinations and movement and work her way inside.
King was in trouble all the way. She was rocked in the second, then
badly bloodied in the third ... a round in which a
booming right from Laila knocked her mouthpiece out. King was game to keep on
fighting in the fourth, but Ali quickly had her in big trouble and this
stoppage, which moved Ali's pro record to 6-0, 6 KO's, was well deserved.
On June 15, 2000 at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, California, Laila (173 lbs) moved her record to 7-0 (7 KO's) by knocking out a windmilling
Marjorie Jones (179 lbs) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin at 1:08 of the first round. Ali
knocked Jones down three times, the last with a right to the head. Jones, a
48-year-old who had been boxing professionally for two years and had two KO wins,
fell to 2-5. A near-capacity crowd of over 3,800 ... again including Ali's father ...
saw this "fight", which drew widespread criticism as a blatant mismatch.
Laila next took a "time out" to get married, then returned to the ring for
her first fight against a genuine title contender.
Ali vs. Lenhart - October 20, 2000 - photo credit: yahoo Sports
On October 20, 2000 at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan,
Ali (165¼ lbs) advanced to 8-0 (7 KO's) with a unanimous
(58-56,58-56,60-54) six-round decision over another KO specialist,
(6'1", 165½ lbs) of Lenoir City, Tennessee, who fell to 6-8-1 (6 KO's). This was
Ali's first fight to go the distance. Lenhart, a former IFBA world title
challenger, rocked Ali and bruised her face with several swinging shots to the head.
Lenhart hammered Ali with a hard right with 20
seconds left in the second round and hurt her with a left-right
combination in the third. Ali rallied to take the final three rounds with
more decisive and disciplined punches as Lenhart tired.
Both fighters looked nearly exhausted by the end of the bout.
"I am a little disappointed that I couldn't knock her out and that I got hit
too much," said Ali after the fight, adding "I have a fighting spirit, but I
know I should have boxed more." The bout provided more excitement
than the men's Main Event, which was cut short after two rounds when Andrew Golota quit against
Ali vs. Lenhart - photo credit: Yahoo Sports
Ali's credibility as a boxer got a further boost when Kendra Lenhart went on
to knock out highly-favored several-time world champion Valerie Mahfood in Beaumont, Texas
on April 19, 2001, taking the vacant WIBF Super-Middleweight title.
Ali's credibility as a boxer got a further boost when Kendra Lenhart went on to
knock out highly-favored several-time world champion Valerie Mahfood in
Beaumont, Texas on April 19, 2001, taking the vacant WIBF Super-Middleweight
On March 2, 2001 at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York,
Ali moved her pro record to 9-0 (8 KO's) when she knocked out Christine Robinson of
Lexington, South Carolina with a barrage of rights
and a left uppercut at 1:50 in the fifth round.
Robinson absorbed Ali's right repeatedly in the early rounds but hung tough
and landed a few hard rights of her own in the third. Ali became more
aggressive and started leading with a left jab, keeping her right cocked, ready
for an opening. Robinson matched Ali punch for punch in the fourth,
but Ali got the upper upper hand when she backed Robinson into a corner in the
fifth. Ali threw a barrage of rights then put Robinson down for the count
with a powerful left. Robinson fell to 2-5 (1 KO) with the loss.
The stage was set for a much-hyped Ali vs. Frazier IV generational "grudge match"
that pitted Laila Ali against Joe Frazier's daughter
at the Turning Stone Casino on June 8, 2001. This bout again attracted major media coverage,
including being featured as the cover story in the week's TV Guide (a first for women's
Frazier-Lyde, a Philadelphia lawyer, had taken up boxing specifically to fight Laila Ali.
"It would be a great draw," she had said when she first proposed the bout.
"It would establish Laila financially, and then I would establish her horizontally."
Before facing Laila Ali,
Jacqui Frazier-Lyde had fought only safe opponents and had shown little sign of the
ring skills needed to make Ali vs. Frazier IV more than the
palest shadow of their fathers' famous encounters. The boxing press talked of the
daughters sullying their fathers' reputations. Some predicted a "Groaner in Verona".
Many in the men's boxing world, often far from friendly to female fighters,
seemed ready to trash women's boxing yet again if the event was a flop.
In a complete reversal of roles from the earlier generation,
Ali was the quiet one during pre-fight press events, while Frazier-Lyde talked a blue
streak, hurling taunts and jibes at Ali while "selling" the fight as
a grudge match. As the media spotlight on
the two daughters broadened well beyond the usual scope of sports coverage, I just held my
breath and hoped they would put on a good show. (Nobody could reasonably have expected
two boxers with single-digit fight experience to come close to matching the wars that their fathers
In fact, Ali vs. Frazier IV, while far from the best boxing that female
fighters produced in 2001, turned out to be an entertaining toe-to-toe slugfest.
Frazier-Lyde (164 lbs) rose to the occasion and took
Ali (160¾ lbs) to a hard-fought eight-round majority decision.
The scorecards were 77-75 and (an, in my view, absurd) 79-73 for Ali, while one card
had it a draw at 76-76. Frazier-Lyde started aggressively but Ali won the middle rounds.
Frazier-Lyde looked like she might be in trouble but she charged back
in the late going and staggered Ali several times in a rousing finish. The
two biggest names among the blooming crop of "famous boxing daughters"
had confounded some of the skeptics by putting on a show that might encouraged
many to take a closer look at other women's boxing! As she had done against Kendra Lenhart in her first six-rounder, Ali faded in the late going, and showed signs that
she needed to work on her endurance if she had her sights set on ten-rounders against
the best of her weight division, who now eagerly awaited her. [Fight report
by Dee Williams;
Fight report by Brian Ackley]
Muhammad Ali didn't attend his daughter's most-publicized fight to date, because of a prior
commitment to a NASCAR event.
After this event, Laila Ali took another timeout from competition, this time for surgery to her shoulder,
while also teaching boxing aerobics classes ("The Ali Way") three times a week,
Special Archived Poster
Ali featured on card as a Special Guest
January 13, 2002
Ali on scene to sign autographs for boxing fans....
Thumbnail photo of poster..
Ali returned to the ring on
June 7, 2002 at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Mississippi.
Weighing in at 164 lbs, she cruised to a six-round unanimous decision
over Shirvelle Williams (159 lbs) of St.Petersburg, Florida. Williams ate
left-right combinations and jabs throughout the bout after Ali took charge in
the opening round with several hard rights. Williams tired in the middle of the
fight but rallied in the fifth and sixth, only to eat more left-right
combinations and body shots. Williams landed a hard right in the sixth but Ali
responded quickly with a booming left to the head. Williams ended the fight with
a battered left eye and fell to 4-3-0 (2 KO).
Courtesy photo by Team Laila Ali. Submitted by Yahya.
Ali vs. Suzette Taylor
On August 17, 2002 the Aladdin Casino and
hotels in Las
Vegas, Nevada would be the host to the Laila Ali
and Suzette Taylor world title bout. It was here that Laila (165 1/2 lbs) won
her first world title by a TKO at 1:11 in the second round to take the IBA Super
Middleweight belt. This all done before a capacity crowd and a national PPV
audience. Although this was not her most famous fight, this was a fight that
will be remembered by Laila's fans everywhere. Since it was a major PPV fight
audiences could see the fight from their homes, local bars, or the
cheap hotels that
they were staying at. Referee Kenny Bayless halted the
scheduled 10-rounder after titleholder Taylor absorbed a barrage of
unanswered punches. Ali showed good hand speed and her body punching had Taylor
in trouble in the
opening round. Ali frequently beat
Taylor to the punch and showed a combination of speed and power
that spoke volumes about her progress as a boxer.
(Taylor's previous fight had been a loss to Ali's arch-rival Jacqui Frazier-Lyde
for the WIBA light heavyweight belt in December 2001.) Taylor fell to
10-7-1 (7 KOs).
WBAN named Laila Ali its Fighter of the Month in September 2002.
On November 8, 2002 at the Stratosphere Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Laila (167 lbs) won by a TKO at 1:14 in the
eighth round over IWBF and WIBA Super Middleweight champion
Valerie Mahfood (161 lbs) of Groves,
Texas in a triple title-unification bout. Ali dominated the Texan, with whom she
had testy exchanges before the fight. Both took some time to warm up in the first round but after this it was all Ali as she began to land hard left
hooks to Mahfood's chin and bloodied Mahfood's nose with a straight right. Ali began to work Mahfood's body in the fourth
and Laila's digging left hooks paid dividends by the sixth round as Mahfood's gloves began to come down. Ali began to
unload on the flagging Mahfood in the seventh and started the eighth with a pounding right to the head that bloodied
Mahfood some more. Ali later backed Mahfood to the ropes where she uncorked a fierce left-right-left combination that
brought referee Joe Cortez in to save Mahfood from further punishment. Ali said she was unhappy at the stoppage as she
wanted to continue to pay Mahfood back for her prefight comments. Ali took home the WIBA and the IWBF
belts as well as her IBA belt from this bout, which was carried live on ESPN2. Mahfood fell to 13-5-0 (7 KO).
(There are more fight photos and a behind-the-scenes report by Sue TL Fox on the
WBAN Records Member Site).
Under new trainer Roger Mayweather, Ali has developed boxing skills to match the expectations that her name
conjures up for the boxing community. WBAN named her its Fighter of the Year in
[Below] Photos by Mary Ann Owen taken in 2005 of Laila Ali in the Gym in Las
On February 14, 2003 at Louisville Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky, fighting in her dad's original home town, Laila (167
lbs) TKO'd former world champion Mary Ann Almager
(5'8", at 168 lbs the heaviest of her ring career) of Midland, Texas at 1:55 in the fourth round. Ali took the action to Almager in the opening round while still looking wary of Almager's southpaw stance and ring experience. Almager looked
overmatched by by Ali's quickness and reach in the second, and was swinging her punches, looking to tag Ali with one
haymaker. Almager kept swinging in the third while Ali threw precise combinations and kept her distance well. Almager
faded as Ali picked her apart with body shots in the fourth and the fight was stopped with Mary Ann clearly out of gas
against the ropes and hurting from a hard right to the midsection. The 34-year-old
Almager, who came out of retirement to take the fight, fell to 14-6-0 (9 KO)
with the loss.
Special Archived Poster
Ali vs. Mary Ann Almager
February 14, 2003
Original Copy photo sent to WBAN on the Ali vs. Almager fight
Thumbnail photo of poster
On June 21, 2003 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, USA, Laila again stopped
Valerie Mahfood (168 lbs), this time at 1:17 in the sixth round. Neither showed any reluctance to mix it up on the inside in this
second matchup, but Ali found a home for a counter right hand that could shake Mahfood. Mahfood landed some solid leather
in exchanges in the third and fifth rounds and opened a small cut near Ali's eye in the fifth. In the sixth, Ali shook up
Mahfood with a right hand with Mahfood on the ropes, then continued to smash Mahfood's head back with hard rights,
prompting referee David Mendoza to stop the bout. Ali didn't look quite as sharp in this fight as she had in their first
match last November, but she still had enough to overwhelm Mahfood. "I hit her good with a right hand. That is when I
decided to take her out then," said Ali, adding "I didn't underestimate her and she didn't underestimate me. I fought
the way men fight, which is an exciting style like HBO wants. It takes a star to make Women's boxing grow. I just hope
that networks like HBO take notice." Mahfood fell to 13-6-0 (7 KO).
On August 23, 2003 at Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, Biloxi, Mississippi,
Laila (162 lbs) knocked out
Christy Martin (who had normally fought as a
welterweight or junior welterweight but weighed in at 159 lbs wearing bulky
combat fatigues) at 0:48 in
the fourth round of a PPV Main Event.
The scheduled ten-rounder was for Ali's IBA Super Middleweight title ... but
also on the line was status as the icon of women's boxing. Christy Martin
(5'4") had personified
the sport in the 1990's but was at a severe height and reach
disadvantage against Ali. Martin charged out to start the fight and both
landed heavily at first but Ali staggered Martin against the ropes near the
end of the round, which left Martin already red and swollen under her
left eye. Ali again rocked Martin early in the second. Martin came back to
land some shots near the end of the second round, but Ali knocked her down
in the third with a string of quick hard uppercuts. Martin was dropped by a
rapid-fire barrage of leather in the fourth and her husband/trainer Jim
exhorted her to "stay down" at not try to beat the count.
was unable to counter Ali's reach
advantage and get to within range to land combinations that might have slowed Ali down.
"She was just too big," said Martin after the fight, adding, "she was in great shape and she kept on coming.
She still fights like an amateur, but all around she was just too big."
Ali conceded "Christy is tough, but I'm definitely stronger than her. She cracked me, but she didn't hurt me."
Martin fell to 45-3-2 (31 KO) with her first loss by knockout.
The weight discrepancy in the Ali-Martin fight may have been much larger than
advertised. I've been told that
Martin may only have been 147 lbs on fight night. I feel strongly that fighters should not be allowed
to weigh in wearing bulky clothing like the combat fatigues that Martin showed up in.
This fight might not have taken place if the Mississippi commission had applied more
Ali's next scheduled appearance was to have been a six-rounder with unbeaten Gwendolyne
O'Neil of Guyana on January 10, 2004 in Abuja Stadium, Lagos, Nigeria, in aid of a
charity combating AIDS and human trafficking. O'Neil had already been in Nigeria for five
days when Ali canceled her flight to Nigeria, citing flight connections that would not
allow her adequate time to prepare for the bout.
On July 17, 2004 at Prince Georges Stadium in Bowie, Maryland, and televised live on Pay-Per-View, Laila (167¼ lbs) successfully defended her IBA World
Super Middleweight title by TKO'ing former Toughwoman champion
Nikki Eplion (167¾ lbs) of South Point, Ohio at 1:30 in the fourth round.
Ali’s boxing skills and aggressive style were too much for Eplion, who was game but
could not compete with Ali's mobility and power, despite stating in the pre-fight
press conference that "I don't think she [Ali] will have an answer for
[my] big left hand." Eplion began the fight aggressively, trying to
land with that left, but her plan apparently went out the window when Ali walked
past her punches and began landing lead rights. Eplion
began going backwards and was backed against the ropes and into corners as Ali
picked up her pace and ramped up the pressure on her with the crowd chanting,
“Ali, Ali”. Eplion was knocked down four times in the third and fourth
rounds and Ali was scoring hard right hands and short left uppercuts before
referee Gary Camponeshi stopped the bout. Eplion fell to 13-2-2 (8 KO).
Ali vs. Nunez in July 2004
© Copyrighted photo by Brian Ackley
On July 30, 2004 before 17,000 fans at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, Laila (168 lbs) successfully defended her IWBF Super Middleweight
belt by stopping Mónica Núñez (164 lbs) of the Dominican Republic
at 0:42 seconds in the
ninth round. Ali had Núñez on the ropes when the challenger's
corner threw in the towel. See the
by Brian Ackley, WBAN's Senior Editor, who writes that "While fans were warmly
enthusiastic in their support, many also felt unsatisfied and grumbled at
the end result when Nunez’s corner, for no reason apparent ... waved the bout to a sudden halt.
Many fans didn’t even know what had happened. Rarely did Ali let her punches go, and even rarer was her attempts
to try and step back from Nunez’s clutch and grab survival strategy. Even at
the stoppage, while Ali did have Nunez pinned briefly on the ropes near a
neutral corner, the Dominican challenger appeared relatively unhurt."
Ackley adds '"The win over Nunez was solid, but certainly lackluster in many ways. The
expected Ali “beat down” turned into more “hoe down,” with the combatants
going round and round often in clinches. Ali did do some decent body work in
the middle rounds which wore Nunez down, but as early as the second round,
there were scattered catcalls from those who expected Ali to ratchet up the
inspiration fighting in her father’s hometown." (For more photos of this
fight, see Photo Gallery #191 at the
WBAN Records Member Site).
“Well, I was happy that I won", said Ali. "I wasn’t happy
that my opponent didn’t want to fight, but sometimes that happens.
I’m trying to stay busy right now. It’s back home and back to the
gym. There’s not too many girls out there for me right now. It’s hard for me
to stay motivated lately, so I just want to stay busy.” Núñez fell to 9-2 (4 KO).
On September 24th, 2004 at the Phillips Arena in
Atlanta, Georgia, Laila (174¼ lbs) won the IWBF Light Heavyweight title with a
third-round knockout of
Gwen O'Neil (175 lbs) of Guyana. Ali began this fight
letting O'Neil come to her while she blocked most of her punches with her
gloves, a strategy reminiscent of her father's "rope-a-dope" tactic against
George Foreman. As O'Neil appeared to tire after just a minute of this,
Ali began to respond with quick jabs and hard hooks to her body. She responded
to a lazy jab by O'Neil midway through the second round by knocking her down
with a counter right to the chin. O'Neil recovered quickly but the same scenario
played out later in the round, putting O'Neil down for an eight count that left
her still wobbly. Ali turned up the heat in the third as O'Neil looked
increasingly desperate. Ali dropped O'Neil in a neutral corner with
another right to the jaw as the third round was ending. This time O'Neil sat
stunned as she was counted out by referee Jim Korb. “She was tough,” said
Ali, “I had to hit her with straight rights to knock her down.” Ali
improved to 19-0 (16 KOs) with the win while O'Neil fell to 9-4-1 (6 KOs).
On February 11th, 2005 at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, 8213 ringside
fans and a live ESPN2 audience saw Laila (168 lbs) defend her WIBA Super
Middleweight title by TKO'ing Cassandra Geiggar (170 lbs) of Arkansas at 1:13 in
the eighth round of a scheduled ten-rounder. Ali worked the body against
the bigger but over-matched Geiggar, who didn't throw many punches but instead
seemed intent on smothering Ali's at close quarters. Ali began slowly and
didn't need to show much movement to control the action easily. Ali
stepped up her work rate in the third (and took advantage of Geiggar's apparent
confusion over the ten second warning to go after the Arkansas fighter, who
thought the round was over and was on her way back to her corner). Geiggar
showed her toughness in the later rounds by standing up to a steady barrage of
punishment, including a bad swelling over her left eye. Ali came out
aggressively in the eighth and eventually dropped Geiggar to one knee beside the
ropes. Geiggar had now lost her appetite for continuing the lop-sided
affair, which was ended by the referee.
Geiggar fell to 6-5 (6 KO's).
After the fight, Ali said that her next opponent could be WIBA Middleweight
champion Leatitia Robinson of Chicago, who
KO'd Monica Núñez in the first round of on the undercard of the Ali-Geiggar
mismatch. She also hinted that she is thinking about starting a family.
On June 11, 2005 at the MCI Center, Washington, District Of Columbia, with her
father among the 15,472 ringside fans, Laila (167½ lbs) TKO'd
Erin Toughill (168 lbs) of Huntington Beach,
California at 1:54 in the third round to win the newly-minted WBC Women's Super
Middleweight title. In the first round Ali and Toughill, a world-class MMA
fighter with limited boxing experience, both began cautiously. In the second
round, Toughill sported a bloody (and broken) nose and the crowd began chanting,
“Ali, Ali, Ali.” Ali had the faster hands, and Toughill was unable
to mount a consistent attack, so Ali took charge. Though Ali used a jab
occasionally to set up other punches, most of her damage was done with a stiff
right hand that Toughill seemed unable to avoid. By the end of the second round,
Toughill's nose was bleeding profusely, and her corner was unable to stop it.
Toughill started the third round more effectively but by the end of the round,
Ali backed her into a corner throwing a barrage of combinations, landing about
15 unanswered punches to Toughill's face. The bout was stopped when Toughill
turned her back to her. Muhammad Ali said of his daughter's performance ...
“she’s bad”. The bout was also a defence of Ali's WIBA Super Middleweight
and was carried live on Showtime pay-per-view. Ali
improved her record to 21-0-0 (18 KOs) while Toughill fell to 6-2-1 (0 KOs).
After the bout, Ali’s then husband and manager Yahya McClain
“We’re looking at some bouts overseas. We’re looking at South Africa,
maybe China, maybe Germany. Right now, we’re not looking at what’s here in
America because it’s just too much headache to make these fights with
Ann Wolfe, Vonda Ward or
Leatitia Robinson. They keep backing out. It
doesn’t make sense for me to keep trying to make these matches because they keep
falling out. Maybe Vonda Ward because of the historical significance,”
McClain continued. “Laila would fight for the heavyweight championship of the
world like her father did. But those are the only things on the table at this
“The two girls I want to fight are Leatitia
Robinson and Ann Wolfe,” said Ali. "Ann
Wolfe because she is a strong girl, she has a good record, she’s been talking a
lot of noise, the public wants to see me fight her, she looks scary and we want
to make that fight happen.
Same with Leatitia Robinson, we put Robinson on two of my undercards but when it
was time to make the fight happen, she started talking crazy. Then you have to
make them starve a little bit and make them recognize again until they
Ali is the winner by TKO over Sandell in Berlin
On December 17, 2005 at Max
Schmeling Halle in Berlin, Germany,
a sell-out crowd of over 10,000 saw Laila (169½ lbs) defeat Asa Sandell (6'2",166½
lbs) of Sweden by a TKO at 1:51 seconds of the fifth round. This
was Ali's first fight without McClain as her manager. After more than holding
her own by using a left hook against an unusually sluggish-looking Ali in the early going, a tiring Sandell
looked stunned after taking a hard right 90 seconds into the fifth round. Ali
took advantage of the opportunity and threw a barrage of combinations, backing
Sandell up against the ropes and peppering her with more quick combos. Sandell
looked winded and failed to defend herself, so the referee stopped the
by Round report by Peter Geudens).
fight Ali said “I expected the fight to be a little tougher than usual
because she was a tall opponent and she was a tough fighter. And I felt like
they stopped the fight too soon. I was a little disappointed at the stoppage
because I didn’t think that she was ready to go yet. I wanted to put her out.
She was on her way there. I had a game plan, I was working my way to her, and I
started to get closer and closer, and I finally turned up the heat and they
stopped the fight. It’s happened to me before. You know what I mean? These
referees for women, for some reason, they don’t want to see ‘em get hurt. But, I
have to give her her props; she did very well."
(For photos of this
fight's weigh-in, see Photo Gallery #315 at the
WBAN Records Member Site).
Shelley Burton vs. Laila Ali in Madison Square Garden
© Copyrighted photo taken by Lori Steinhorst
On November 11, 2006 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Laila (166½ lbs)
TKO'd Shelley Burton (164 lbs) of Kalispell, Montana
at 1:58 in the fourth round defending her WIBF and WBC Super Middleweight belts.
According to the Reuters report, "Laila Ali fought
conservatively at first, but soon it was clear she could land her big right at
will, stunning her challenger several times. As the fourth round was drawing to
an end, the 28-year-old Ali landed a left-right combination flush to the nose of
Burton, who stooped over as blood poured out and referee Arthur Mercante Jr.
called the fight off with two seconds left in the round." Ali
improved her record to 23-0 (20 KO's) wile Burton dropped to 8-3-1 (2 KO's).
The bout was not carried by HBO, despite being the co-Main Event on a card on
which men's fights were carried by HBO, but see
right" by Bernie McCoy for a contrary view.
On February 3, 2007 at the Emperor's Palace Casino
in Johannesburg, South Africa Laila Ali (168 lbs) stopped
Gwendolyn O’Neil (165¾
lbs) of Georgetown, Guyana just 0:56 seconds into the first round of a scheduled
ten-rounder for the WBC and WIBA Super Middleweight titles. Ali was quoted
in an AP article that she “apologized” to boxing fans including former South
African President Nelson Mandela, for the brevity of the fight. The fight's
publicity was out of proportion to its competitiveness, as Ali had already
easily dispatched O'Neil in 2004 on the last occasion that O'Neil fought outside
Guyana where her opposition is limited (her last three opponents had a combined
5-19-2 record). Ali improved her record to 24-0 (21 KO's) and intimated
that she would not be boxing again for a while. O'Neil fell to 12-5-1 (7
WBAN received a large number of
from readers after the second O'Neil fight regarding Ali's boxing career, its
effect on women's boxing, and the possibility that this mismatch might be Ali's
She is now scheduled to appear on the TV show "Dancing with the Stars".
also said she's looking for a rematch with Jacqui Frazier-Lyde to do what she couldn't in their first fight ... knock
Jacqui out! Asked about this rematch by WBAN's Sue TL Fox, Ali replied:
"I always thought that after she (Frazier) fought me, that she would quit.
The thing is...I still feel the same way about Jacqui as I always did. The
bottom line is the business side of it. Jacqui obviously wants to fight me, and
if we can make it happen, and we can make it happen big ... then we can make it
happen. She's in my weight class, and she is a world champion now. And there's
not that many in my weight class that are challenging anyway. And I was not
that happy with my performance in that fight, so that has been on my mind----I
definitely will fight her again."
Ali has matured into a strong and capable boxer whose ring career would merit serious attention
even without her family name. But the media buzz, endorsements and fame she
is achieving still frustrate many in women's boxing because of her unique extra ingredient.
Ali did not grow up to close to her famous father. She is the younger of two daughters with his third wife, Veronica,
and she lived with her mother in California after her parents divorced when she was eight. She grew up in Malibu and
graduated from Santa Monica Community College. Her defiant attitude to the world got her into some street fights,
according to promoter Mike Acri. At age 16, she was busted for shoplifting and later did a three month stint
in a juvenile detention hall for "something else". Before turning to professional boxing, she ran a beauty salon.
Ali is reluctant to compare herself to her father: "We're two different people, but I know that because I am his
daughter that I naturally have boxing skills that most people probably don't have when they start" she told reporters
before her Verona debut. "My dad never had this much attention on him when he was first fighting,"
Ali's decision to box despite her father's struggle with the symptoms of Parkinson's disease has of course sparked a
mixture of debate and criticism.
Ali states that her father painted the worst possible picture of boxing for her and
"he doesn't want me to get hurt"
but supports her 100 percent. "He always wants to make sure that I know what I'm doing is not easy and you're going to get
hit and bruised and the wind is going to get knocked out ... he always takes your mind to the worst possible scenario to
see if you're going to still want to go forward with it", she says. "I'm going to get hit, I'm going to get my face
swollen, it's going to happen," she said.
Laila's credentials as a
magnet for worldwide media attention (and for ongoing questions about whether women's boxing is sport or spectacle) are now
clear. As she continues to fight more experienced boxers, she is building interest in women's boxing as well as her
own career. It's ironic that her biggest publicity boost came from a fight that she herself seemed to disdain ... the
challenge from Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, who did a great job of promoting their generational battle and then put on a tenacious
scrap once they were in the ring.
Ali with the WIBA and IFBA belts
© Copyrighted photo by Sue TL Fox
There's been a media void waiting to be filled by a charismatic and capable female fighter who can symbolize women's
pro boxing the way Ali's father did for men's boxing. Laila has the inside track on filling that void
and she's passed every test that's been put in front of her so far.
Wherever she goes in her ring career Laila Ali walks in the largest possible footprints ... with the world watching to see if
she measures up! Her genes may bestow extra skills, but they also bring her extra scrutiny as fight fans ask
if she can live up to the expectations generated by her famous name.
Women's boxing as a whole may be better off because of the extra attention she is garnering for the sport.
More Laila Ali Links
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge digital photos you can go to
the WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Thursday, 14 March 2013 - Bio
by Dee Williams