In front of her father, Laila Ali wins in 4 rounds

Saturday, November 11th 2006, 10:11 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) Laila made daddy proud.

Laila Ali stopped a thoroughly outclassed Shelley Burton at 1:58 of the 4th round to defend her WBC women's super middleweight championship Saturday night.

After throwing kisses to her father, boxing great Muhammad Ali, when she entered the ring, she made quick work of Burton. A left-right combination smashed Burton's nose and an eruption of blood fell to the canvas as referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stopped the bout.

"I wanted to knock her out cold," Laila Ali said, "but unfortunately she turned her back, which meant she didn't want any more."

Muhammad Ali, whose 1971 loss to Joe Frazier was one of the Garden's most memorable fights, is 64 and suffering from Parkinson's disease. He entered the Garden riding a golf cart, got off and acknowledged the crowd of 14,260 that was chanting for him even while Manuel Medina and Kevin Kelley were in the ring fighting.

Then Ali sat next to Dustin Hoffman and talked before he watched his 28-year-old daughter's performance.

"It's always great to have him here and have him see me fight," Laila said.

It was Laila's first bout in 11 months, her famous father was at that one, too, and she displayed no rust. Landing straight rights and looping ones, she easily penetrated Burton's defense. At the same time, she blocked nearly everything Burton threw.

After running her unbeaten record to 23-0 with 20 knockouts, Ali stood on the ropes in front of her father and waved. Ali stood up and waved back, got onto the golf cart and left the arena to loud cheers.

"I'm still on a high," said Ali of fighting at the Garden. "I haven't come down from it yet. It feels great. They are true boxing fans at the Garden; fans appreciate the effort."