For the second straight fight, Luis Santana was taken from the ring on a stretcher. And for the second straight time, he was the winner on a bizarre disqualification.
Santana retained his WBC super welterweight title Saturday night when Terry Norris hit him well after the bell ending the third round and he stayed down.
It was a strange ending to a fight that was supposed to be Norris’ redemption for the fight he lost to Santana by disqualification Nov. 12. Norris had lost that fight when he hit Santana on the back of the head during the fifth round and Santana stayed down. The blow was ruled illegal and Santana declared the winner.
The ending to the rematch involved a foul even more flagrant.
“I didn’t know the round was over,” Norris protested. “The referee told me to go ahead. I was ready and hit him with a good shot. I didn’t hear the bell. I thought they had stopped the fight.”
Nevada boxing officials, though, said the punch was deliberate.
“It was an intentional foul,” said Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. “The other man clearly could not continue; therefore, Santana is the winner by disqualification. It was clearly an intentional foul.”
Santana collapsed after being hit and was on his back on the canvas for about 5 minutes as ringside physician Dr. Flip Homansky examined him and gave him oxygen. He was taken from the ring on a stretcher to Valley Hospital.
“He responded to me very well when he was down,” Homansky said. “I think he’s going to be OK.”
Norris had lost his WBC title to Santana in their first fight in Mexico, a bout he dominated until he hit Santana behind the head in the fifth round and the challenger from the Dominican Republic went down and stayed down.
The former two-time champion was also dominating in the rematch and had knocked Santana down twice in the first three rounds.
The fighters were in a neutral corner as the bell sounded to end the round. Both stood there without going back to their corners and the referee turned to Santana to deliver a warning about low blows.
At that point, Norris suddenly lashed out with a right hand that caught Santana fully on the head and he went down.