Boxing: Israel's Foreman outspars Santos to win historic world title

Boxing Israels Foreman

yuri foreman action 248.88 (photo credit: )
yuri foreman action 248.88
(photo credit: )
History was made in Las Vegas on Saturday night when Yuri Foreman became the first Israeli boxer to win a major world title. Foreman, an aspiring rabbi who mixes religious studies with work in the gym, outpointed Daniel Santos over 12 rounds to claim the WBA super welterweight crown. The 29-year-old, who was born in Belarus but lived in Haifa from the ages of 10 to 19, knocked Santos down with a right hand in the final round, but by then the outcome had long since been decided. He won 117-109 on two ringside scorecards and 116-110 on the third, upsetting the odds to bring glory to Israel. Foreman had been the underdog, going into the bout less experienced and having never beaten a left-handed fighter like Santos. The fight wasn't exactly an artistic triumph, with both fighters head butting each other and Foreman throwing Santos to the canvas in the second round. But Foreman controlled much of the action and landed both the harder and more effective punches. The fight was on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto title fight at the MGM Grand arena. Foreman, who remained unbeaten in 28 fights, emigrated from Israel to Brooklyn and began studying to become a rabbi three years ago. He gave up the edge in experience to the 34-year-old Santos (32-4-1) but pressured the WBA champion most of the fight to pile up an edge on the scorecards. The victory made Foreman the first Israeli to win a world title since Johar Abu-Lashin claimed the IBC Welterweight belt in 1998, although the IBC is a far less prestigious body than the WBA. "I am very, very proud to do this for Israel and Brooklyn and to show that Jews can fight," Foreman told Reuters after improving his career record to 28-0 with eight knockouts. After the judges decisions were announcd Foreman fell to the floor, clearly overtaken by the significance of the occasion, before striding into the center of the ring to claim his belt. He then posed for photos in front of an Israeli flag. Santos, from Puerto Rico, was defending the title for only the second time after winning it two years ago. He hadn't fought in 16 months, and the inactivity showed in a fight he fought only in spurts. Both fighters complained about head butts, and the fight was briefly stopped in the seventh round after Foreman was cut by a clash of heads. Santos attempted to come out all guns blazing in the final round, knowing he would need a knockout to win the fight. But he was clearly too tired from 33 minutes of slugging, and Foreman skillfuly avoided his opponent's attacks. In the night's main event, Pacquiao put on yet another dominating performance Saturday night, knocking down Cotto twice and turning his face into a bloody mess before finally stopping him at 55 seconds of the 12th round. The Filipino star used his blazing speed and power from both hands to win his seventh title in seven weight classes and cement his stature as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Cotto took such a beating that his face was a river of red from the fury of Pacquiao's punches but he refused to quit even as his corner tried to throw in the towel after the 11th round. Jewish boxing returns to the fore in three weeks' time when another New York-basked Orthodox fighter, Dmitriy Salita, takes on Britain's Amir Khan for the WBA light-welterweight crown in Newcastle, England. Like Foreman, Salita is an immigrant from the Soviet Union who has become religious since moving to the United States.