HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Hurricane Katrina delivered a pretty good punch to South Florida, but it couldn't knock out "Heavyweight Heat" at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino's Hard Rock Live Arena. A crowd of 4,000 was on hand to witness heavyweight Shannon Briggs knocking out Ray Mercer at 0:41 of the seventh round in the main event scheduled for 10 rounds.
Briggs (43-4-1, 36 KOs) was dominating the fight against the 44-year-old Mercer (34-6-1, 25 KOs), and finally put him away in the seventh. The ending was a bit controversial, as Briggs held Mercer and hit him with two shots, and then as Mercer's head went under the rope, the Brooklyn native connected a right hand to the head that put Mercer on the canvas for the 10 count from referee Brian Garry.
"He hit me in the back of the head," Mercer said. "I want a rematch."
Briggs says he'd be happy to give Mercer another shot.
"We can do it again," Briggs said. "He thinks I fouled him. He was under the ropes, so I had to do what I had to do, but I respect him, he's a great fighter, and I'll give him a rematch."
Leading up to the fight both men had unkind words for each other and almost went at it in the final press conference this week, but after the fight Briggs was praising the former WBO champion.
"In his day he would've knocked me out," Briggs said. "We had our differences, but we settled it the right way, in the ring."
Bell retains title
IBF cruiserweight champion O'Neil Bell's right hand ended Sebastiaan Rothmann's hopes of winning a world title and pulling off the major upset, as he knocked out the challenger at 2:09 of the 11th round to retain his title.
Bell (25-1-1, 22 KOs) was badly hurt by a Rothmann (18-4-2, 12 KOs) right hand at the end of the fourth round. Bell fell into the corner as the round ended, but referee Tommy Kimmons did not count. The champion also had two points deducted in the seventh and ninth rounds for low blows.
Rothmann, from Tel Aviv, Israel, got caught with a right hand that drove him into the ropes, and as he bounced off, Bell, originally from Montego Bay, Jamaica, threw a straight right hand that landed on Rothmann's chin, sending him crashing down face first to the canvas. The Israeli would remain down for a few minutes, but left the ring under his own power.
"I wasn't afraid of losing because I've been through this before," Bell said. "I knew I had to remain poised, and the knockout would come by itself."
At the time of the stoppage, two judges had the bout even at 94-94, while the third had Bell ahead 95-93. The champ felt that with the two points he was penalized, that he needed a knockout to win the fight.
"The point deductions motivated me," Bell said. "I had to score a knockout to win. I just had to."
After the fight, referee Kimmons and one of the other referees, Brian Garry, got into an argument after Garry, who served as timekeeper during the bout, told Kimmons he should've called a knockdown in the fourth round when Rothmann hurt Bell. The two shouted at each other, but resolved their differences.
McCline stays busy with win
Jameel McCline, from New York, had an easy time dispatching opponent Steve Pannell, Roanoke, VA, at 2:36 into round three.
McCline (32-5-3, 20) KOs) put an end to the fight early, landing a left-right combination that dropped Pannell (34-9, 28 KOs), who couldn't beat referee James Warring's count.
He also dropped Pannell in the first round with a left hook to the chin, and then again in the second with an overhand right.
The man dubbed "Big Time" was coming off consecutive losses to Chris Byrd and Calvin Brock, and hopes to get back in the heavyweight title picture.
Urango impressive in win
Junior welterweight contender Juan Urango, from Monteria, Colombia, who is ranked third by the IBF, and fifth by the WBC, inched closer to a world title shot by stopping Andre Eason, of Brooklyn, N.Y., at 2:59 of the seventh round.
Urango (16-0-1, 13 KOs) dropped Eason (15-4, 6 KOs) three times en route to victory. The first knockdown came in the third round when the southpaw Urango decked his foe with a right hook to the head. He was able to floor Eason in the following round with a left hook that he set up with two rights to the body.
The end came in the seventh, ironically Eason's best round of the fight. The Brooklyn fighter was landing uppercuts at will throughout the round until Urango landed a right uppercut of his own towards the end of the frame that knocked Eason flat on his back. He bravely got up, but referee Brian Garry stopped the fight after taking a close look at Eason's eyes.
In undercard action
Unbeaten Edison Miranda, a former middleweight prospect now campaigning as a light heavyweight, won via a six-round unanimous decision over Hilario Guzman of the Dominican Republic.
Miranda (23-0, 20 KOs) dominated the fight, landing straight rights to Guzman's head, and pulverizing left hooks to the body. Guzman (6-18-3, 1 KOs) hung in there and traded at times with the power-puncher, but Miranda earned his respect as he hurt Guzman in the final round with a right-left combination.
In the first fight of the evening, Lance "Mount" Whitaker, from Granada Hills, Calif., returned to his winning ways, stopping journeyman Louis Monaco, from Denver, at 0:30 of the third round. Whitaker (30-3-1, 25 KOs) was credited with a knockdown in the second round when he landed a right hand that sent Monaco (14-31-4, 7 KOs) reeling into the ropes.
Referee Tommy Kimmons stopped the bout in the following round after another Whitaker right snapped Monaco's head back.