Chinese show ambivalence at the sight of awesome Ali

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The Independent Online

Laila Ali, daughter of Muhammad, stopped Kristia King in the fourth round of their fight on Saturday to remain undefeated here, in an event that gave mainland China a taste of the professional game. Andrew Golota also stopped Marcus Rhode in the third round of a heavyweight bout.

Many of the Chinese who came to the fight said that they found boxing too violent, but they cheered wildly as Golota wore Rhode down in the feature bout. Golota, from Poland, knocked Rhode down twice in the second round and said later that he thought the fight had gone on too long.

Ali outclassed King, a prison guard, with more grace and way too many punches. King's face was bloodied before the referee stopped the fight 37 seconds into the fourth round.

In another match, Montell Griffin won in an unanimous decision after going the 12-round distance against Jose Luis Rivera in a lightweight match.

Rivera stepped into the ring to the sound of gospel music and wearing trunks that had the name Jesus written in English on the front and in Chinese on the back. "The guy was tough," Griffin said. "He came to fight. I gave him every punch in the book. After a while, I got tired of hitting him. He showed a heck of a heart."

The pro boxing at the Tianhe's Sporting Center complex was unusual in China and a stark contrast between East and West. The rounds were announced by young Chinese women wearing short dresses with sponsor labels from the American beer maker Pabst Blue Ribbon.

"This is more than a prize fight," said the US boxing commentator, Col. Bob Sheridan. "This is a cultural exchange."

But not many local Chinese took the opportunity to see the fight live. There appeared to be more empty seats than spectators. The main attraction was not the heavyweight feature fight but instead the appearance by Ali. "She's beautiful," said a front-row spectator who gave his name as Mr Shen.

Others said the boxing was a bit much for some Chinese sensibilities. "In my opinion, I think it's very, very bloody, " said Hikkins Shu. "It's against traditional values accepted by the Chinese. We believe in peace."