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Urquidez Jets Way to Victory, Netting 6th Kickboxing Crown

December 05, 1993|DON WEINER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

LAS VEGAS — Six turned out to be the lucky number for Benny (the Jet) Urquidez during his visit to Las Vegas.

The undefeated kickboxing legend added the World Karate Assn. light middleweight crown to his collection with a 12-round split decision over Japan's Yoshihisa Tagami before 3,588 at the Mirage Hotel Saturday night.

This is the sixth world championship for the 41-year-old Sherman Oaks resident, who remained undefeated after 58 bouts.

The Urquidez-Tagami fight topped a five-bout card billed as the World Class Kickboxing Championship.

Traditionally a slow starter, Urquidez hadn't been in the ring in 4 1/2 years since his last major title defense at the Tokyodome. The 25-year-old Tagami used youth to his advantage in the early rounds, plastering Urquidez with a series of body kicks and leg kicks.

Late in Round 2, Tagami knocked Urquidez to the mat with a right hand, although it was not ruled an official knockdown.

Urquidez started to pick up steam in Round 5 as the fighters went toe to toe, trading jabs and kicks.

Uruqidez used an effective left foot with several kicks to the head through the seventh and eighth rounds to slow down Tagami, but in Round 9 the match turned into a brawl as the Japanese champion got Urquidez in serious trouble.

Urquidez did manage to stun Tagami in the 10th round with a solid right hand to the chin but he was unable to put his opponent away.

Although this was promoted as his final ring appearance, Urquidez would not rule out future bouts.

"This is my retirement fight," he said, "until the next (one)."

But the same circumstances that kept him out of competition for well over four years may prohibit any immediate comebacks.

Urquidez is in great demand from Hollywood to serve as a second-unit director and fight choreographer for action films. He recently returned from Israel where he worked on a new Chuck Norris picture and has been involved with such movies as "Batman Returns," "Diggstown" and "Tango and Cash."

The Jet Center, a gym and kickboxing training facility Urquidez runs in Van Nuys, also produced two other local winners on Saturday's card.

Van Nuys' Ricky (The Mongoose) O'Kane opened the evening by capturing the WKA intercontinental welterweight title with a ninth-round technical knockout over Canada's Vince Ross.

After an uneventful start, O'Kane took control of the match in Round 3 by knocking Ross down with a left roundhouse kick. He floored the Canadian champ again in the eighth.

Midway through Round 9, O'Kane softened Ross up with a series of body kicks, then used his left hand to get a third knockdown and the victory.

"My combos were working, but I never felt in control, like I had the fight, until the second knockdown," O'Kane said.

Bridgett (Babydoll) Riley, another Van Nuys resident, found the going a little tougher in her women's intercontinental bantamweight championship fight with Australian Stephanie Curtis. But an aggressive series of leg kicks and punching combinations gave her an unanimous seven-round decision.

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