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Like father, like daughter: Laila Ali to make MSG debut

9/21/2006 - Boxing

NEW YORK -- Another Ali will box at Madison Square Garden.

Laila Ali, the daughter of boxing great Muhammad Ali, will make
her debut 35 years after her father lost to "Smokin" Joe Frazier
at the Garden.

She'll be on the Nov. 11 undercard of the IBF heavyweight bout
between champion Wladimir Klitschko and undefeated Calvin Brock.
All three appeared at a news conference Tuesday at Madison Square
Garden.

Ali, the WBC light heavyweight champion, is 22-0 with 19
knockouts since her pro debut in 1999.

"I'm excited to be at Madison Square Garden, the mecca of
boxing," Ali said. "There's a lot of pressure being Ali's
daughter, but I always try to do my best. I've got to do my thing --
he's already done his thing."

Ali's opponent will be determined soon.

"We just signed with this fight last week," said her adviser,
Damon Bingham. "We're negotiating, we should know in a day or
two."

Muhammad Ali attended his daughter's last fight in Berlin, where
Laila stopped Sweden's Asa Sandell in the fifth round on Dec. 17.
Muhammad Ali, who at 64 is slowed by Parkinson's disease, walked
ringside to kiss his daughter.

"He's proud that I won, even though he'd rather me not fight,"
she said of her father, who has attended more than half her fights.
"He gets in the ring and gives me a kiss, it's a sweet feeling."

It's possible the elder Ali will turn up at the Garden, where he
dazzled crowds during his career. He lost the heavyweight crown to
Frazier in a 15-round epic in 1971, but won the rematch three years
later.

"It just depends on how he feels," she said. "He has his good
days and bad days. He has a disease, so it's something that he
deals with. But he's still traveling and getting around the world.
People are always concerned about him. I don't have the energy to
do as much as he does."

Klitschko (46-3 with 41 knockouts) will face an opponent who's
fought 20 fewer fights.

"Calvin Brock is a top-three fighter in the world," Klitschko
said. "He's undefeated, young and willing to win. He has a great
basic style of boxing."

Klitschko, who is donating part of ticket sales to UNESCO's
Education for Children in Need program, is one of four heavyweight
champions from the former Soviet Union -- along with Nikolay Valuev
(WBA), Oleg Maskaev (WBC) and Sergei Liakhovich (WBO).

Klitschko stopped Chris Byrd in the seventh round of a one-sided
fight in April to gain the IBF heavyweight title. The Ukrainian
resurrected his career by beating favored Nigerian Samuel Peter in
October following knockout losses to Corrie Sanders and Lamon
Brewster.

Brock (29-0, 22 KOs) won a unanimous decision against Timur
Ibragimov in a June bout in Las Vegas that was booed for its lack
of punches.

"I'm not taking his chin for granted," Brock said. "He's been
knocked out by strong punchers. With my power and my knockout
ratio, if I hit him right, I'll knock him out."

The 28-year-old Ali is looking to avoid her first knockout.
She's training in Las Vegas with Floyd Mayweather Sr., focusing on
defensive skills. She's back in the gym after fights in Dubai and
Capetown, South Africa, were canceled earlier this year.

Ali was low-key during one-on-one interviews, but sounded a bit
like her father at a news conference in the Garden's lobby.

"I can scrap, OK?" she said. "What my daddy had was passed
down to me. I'm not my father, I'm not trying to be. But I am a
fighter and I'm coming here and going to whup somebody good here at
the Garden."