- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: BOXING - Laila Ali defeats Gwendolyn O'Neil in 56 seconds
- Date: 5th February 2007
- Summary: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (FEBRUARY 3, 2007) (REUTERS) BILLBOARD ADVERTISING LAILA ALI'S FIGHT LAILA ALI (RIGHT) AND GWENDOLYN O'NEIL POSING FACE-TO-FACE FOR CAMERAS O'NEIL AND HER TEAM ENTERING ARENA LAILA ALI'S TEAM ENTERING ARENA WITH LAILA SHADOW BOXING ALI FAN WINNIE MADIKIZELA-MANDELA, EX-WIFE OF NELSON MANDELA
- Embargoed: 20th February 2007 12:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA8ARLK2FFRG7788SJWIVFF3WT0
- Story Text: Opponent Gwendolin O'Neil said at the pre-fight medical before taking on the redoubtable Laila Ali in the world super middleweight title bout at Emperors Palace on Saturday (February 3) night that "Jesus will look after me in the ring".
And, it might be construed, that divine providence indeed came to the rescue of the ageing 35 year-old O'Neil in that what was truly a farcical mismatch lasting only 56 seconds as the daughter of boxing legend Muhammed Ali knocked her opponent off her feet twice to secure a lightning-fast knock out victory.
Had the fight lasted any longer there is no knowing exactly what damage could have been done to a fighter with creditable past achievements in her chosen trade, but who now looks worn-out and weary in the ring and well-advised to think of retiring.
The Ali show was enacted in front of a host of luminaries headed by former president Nelson Mandela, with cricketer Makhanya Ntini second in line behind Madiba for applause as the "special guests" were announced in a ceremony that far outlasted the main bout itself.
With ringside seats going at R750 ($ 100), it can be estimated that paying non-celebrity patrons forked out about R14 ($ 20) a second to see the main bout and wonder whether it was really all worth it.
"I blinked for a brief moment during the fight when something seemed to get into my eye and cause me a moment of concern," said the 29 year-old Ali after stretching her unbeaten record to 24 fights in which only three have gone the distance.
But,if truth be known, she could probably have won the fight blind-folded - and in a canter at that.
The celebrated champion of ladies pugilists also disclosed that it would probably be her last fight for some while as she intended having her first child and going into temporary retirement.
She has achieved a great deal out of the ring and made a striking impression in her highly-publicised visit to South Africa and it is a pity she could not have been afforded a better opportunity of demonstrating her wares as a fighter.
"I was out to make it quicker than the last time when I knocked her out in the third round," said Ali, "but I did not expect it to be this quick" - disclosing also that her famous father would be given the result post-haste via a mobile phone call as soon as she exited the ring.
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