Sunday, July 27, 2008

ROBBIE LAWLER SEALS SMITH'S FATE RETAINS BELT!


STOCKTON, Calif. -- Hoping to erase the disappointing no-contest that marred Robbie Lawler's EliteXC middleweight war against Scott Smith in May, the pair met again Saturday -- in primetime on CBS -- picking up where they left off.

Tailor-made sluggers with stout chins who don't mind getting hit, Lawler and Smith highlighted EliteXC's first venture on network television before the fight was stopped, when Smith took a finger to the eye. This time, it was a knee to the midsection that told the tale, and again it was Smith who went to the canvas in a heap.

Fighting about an hour south of his hometown of Elks Grove, Calif., Smith came out uncharacteristically fast, following every combination with a kick, including one that glanced off Lawler's left cheek.

"I wanted to dictate the pace and stay in his face and make him work," Lawler said. "He was pressing me, and I didn't want him to press me and then rest; so I just tried to stay there and make him work and hit him at the same time."

The plan paid off big in the second. A bit cute with his punches in the opening five minutes, the southpaw champion unleashed his power in the deciding frame. Smith answered, making for the best moment of the fight, as both men stood and slugged in front of a raucous crowd at Stockton Arena.

Lawler (16-4, 1 NC) remained unscathed, save a cut at the top of his head, eerily reminiscent to an elbow-induced gash from Smith (15-5, 1 NC) in the first fight. With that cut fully healed just two weeks prior to the rematch and the memory of commission doctors moving in to call a halt in their previous encounter, Lawler increased his punching output so referee Herb Dean couldn't find a spot to step in and get it checked.

"He's matured as a fighter," Smith said of Lawler. "He's so much smarter. He knew he was cut, so he knew to stay out of it."

Against the fence, Lawler worked over Smith's midsection and ribs. Then, he came with the knees. The first dug into the challenger's abs and he took it. But two more followed and Smith failed to hold up.

"I do work my stomach," Smith quipped. "I know I've been dropped by body shots, but let Lawler knee you in the stomach and see how you like it."

The challenger scrambled, but the moment he rose Lawler delivered another knee, this time to the head, that finished it at 2:35 of Round 2.
Josh Gross,SI.com
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