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Linking New York and Philly: "BAM, POW, BANG"

In 2002, Elvir Muriqi battled Sam Ahmad in a closet classic.
In 2002, Elvir Muriqi battled Sam Ahmad in a closet classic.

Ted "The Bull" Sares is back again, this time with an excerpt from his upcoming book, Planet Boxing. In this feature, Ted talks about a 2002 war between New York's Elvir Muriqi and Philly's Sam Ahmad.

* * * * *

That was the first time I had ever been down and I was like, ‘oh, I'm on the floor.' It was a place I had never been before so I said, ‘get up, get up fast.' I got up and I never thought about giving up or losing the fight. I knew I had to get up and win. ... When I dropped him I thought I had him and I was going to finish him....Trainer Teddy [Atlas] was banging on the floor for me to look at him, but I didn't, and I forgot that the guy could hit me back again.

--Elvir Muriqi

Back on July 23, 2002, a televised fight took place in New Rochelle, NY that inexplicably is seldom talked about, but was one that featured pure unmitigated savagery. Elvir "The Kosovo Kid" Muriqi (24-1, 14 KO's) was set to meet "Slamming" Sam Ahmad (16-3-3, 7 KO's). Ahmad, not known for having heavy hands, had made his bones fighting as a regular at the legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia and may have been taken too lightly by Muriqi's camp which included noted trainer, Teddy Atlas. "Slamming" Sammy had won a MD over tough John Scully who had badly injured his shoulder and still fought through the pain. He also drew with the late "MR KO," Julian Letterlough, in 2000 and had two wins over Tyrone Frazier. As for Muriqi, I had seen him lose a dreadful DQ to Dan Sheehan which he later avenged in still another snoozer. Ahmed held a win over this same Sheehan. Clearly, I was not prepared for what was to come.

As soon as the bell rang, all hell broke loose. In a matter of seconds, a surprised Elvir found himself on the deck compliments of an Ahmad numbing right. Quickly recovering, The Kid shot a wicked uppercut on the point of Sammy's chin and dropped him hard. With only a minute and a half having elapsed off the clock, both fighters had been down hard and the 1,500 fans were up and roaring. They would never sit down again.

Muriqi moved in for the kill and launched a left hook but Sammy got inside it and unleashed his own bomb, another malefic right, that sent The "Kosovo Kid" down for the second time and for all practical purposes, the fight seemed over as Elvir's eyes did a full-tilt boogie and then rolled back into his head.

But Somehow, someway, "The Kid" did a gut check and got up on rubbery legs vulnerable and ready to be savaged, but "Slamming Sammy" was not up to the task. Muriqi hung on and made it to the bell. Ahmed had let him off the hook.

In the second stanza, Muriqi was again decked early by a countering right that hit him flush. He wobbled up and held on in desperation once more trying to clear the Ahmad-induced cobwebs. Sammy then scored his fourth knockdown in what had now become a pier six brawl reminiscent of Norkus-Nardico, but the Lion-hearted Muriqi would not fold. Still, Ahmad sensed the end and so did everybody else in the roaring New Rochelle crowd, that is, everybody except "The Kid," who took the mandatory 8 count from boxing Referee Santa.

Looking to end the mayhem once and for all, Ahmad moved in to throw the same right that earlier had rendered Muriqi badly hurt. But this time it was Muriqi who got there first with a right to the side of the head and Ahmad amazingly staggered back himself visibly hurt. Now it was the Philadelphia fighters' turn to clear the cobwebs. Muriqi pounced on him using a crunching uppercut followed by a jack hammer right and then he shoved him to the canvas, but it was rightly ruled a no-knockdown. As the bell ended, Ahmad slowly headed back to his corner.

In the third, it was Muriqi who smelled blood and he picked up where he left off. He cracked a lethal right to Sammy's temple to score his second knockdown. When he got up, Elvir went after him with pure malice aforethought and banged him with a right over the top. Ahmad responded by tackling him and both fighters went down. Again, the referee ruled a no-knockdown, but it was a highly questionable ruling. The right clearly had started Sammy on his way down. The tackle merely camouflaged the clean hit.

As the wild brawl (redundancy intended) continued, both fighters alternated with trip-hammer rights and an assortment of crosses, hooks and uppercuts, Finally, Muriqi launched a vicious volley of molar-rattling shots banging Ahmad from pillar to post. The "Kid" pounded Ahmad onto the ropes where he sagged dangerously vulnerable. Referee Santa gave Sammy an early Christmas gift by rushing in and pulling the rampaging Muriqi off him at 2:57 of the third. The courageous Muriqi displayed an uncommon amount of heart to snatch victory from apparent defeat.

Ahmed would fight one more time and retire with a 16-4-3 mark, but in defeat he exhibited what Philadelphia fighters are all about. As for the "Kosovo Kid," he lost a close one to Antonio Tarver in 2007 in a bid for the vacant IBO light heavyweight crown. He then lost to Clinton Woods in an IBF Light Heavyweight Title Eliminator in 2009. At 37-5, he may not get another shot at the big one.

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