Vitali Tsypko had a gash over his left eye pouring blood like iced tea through a pitcher, and it might have been the best thing to happen to him.
An accidental head-butt in the first round Saturday night opened the cut and caused his fight with St. Petersburg's Jeff Lacy to be declared a no-decision a round later. It might have saved the Russian from a beating.
"There was no way that guy would have been out there ... maybe two more rounds max," Dan Birmingham, Lacy's trainer, said.
The fight was called just after Lacy landed an overhand right that stunned the bloody Tsypko. Lacy told Birmingham after the first round that he couldn't feel Tsypko's punches, and it was just a matter of time before the fight ended.
Problem was, it ended too soon. Had four rounds been completed, the fight would have gone to the scorecards. Because it didn't, it was declared a no-contest after ringside doctors halted it.
Both fighters could end up winners, though. A super-middleweight title fight with No. 1 Syd Vanderpool was promised to the victor, and Birmingham said he suggested to promoter Shelley Finkel that Lacy take on Vanderpool, with Tsypko getting the winner.
Finkel mentioned the idea to Lacy's promoter, Gary Shaw, who liked it enough that he will petition the IBF.
It makes perfect sense: Tsypko will need at least four to five months to heal, then train for the rematch, meaning the title would be vacant for up to another year.
That wouldn't be fair to Vanderpool or Lacy. And the new deal, if struck, would be fair to Tsypko, who would only have to win one fight for the title.
Let's hope the IBF sees things as clearly.
HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY: The IBF got what it deserved Saturday night, as its new junior middleweight champ was crowned.
The IBF was the first to strip St. Petersburg's Winky Wright of his title - barely a month after his win over Shane Mosley - for not defending against Kasim Ouma. So the IBF matched Ouma with Verno Phillips for the title. But last week, Ouma had to pull out with an injury.
Instead of Wright as its champ, it now has Phillips (38-9-1) after he beat late sub Carlos Bojorquez.
WHEW: The scheduled megafight between Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins is on for Sept. 18 but barely.
Both won their fights Saturday night in Las Vegas, but while Hopkins cruised over Robert Allen to score a dull unanimous decision, De La Hoya barely got by WBO middleweight champion Felix Sturm.
In his middleweight debut, De La Hoya won a unanimous decision by a 115-113 count on all three judges' scorecards. The judges gave him the final round, allowing him to eke past Sturm.
Sturm landed more punches (243-188) and connected on 43 percent (as opposed to De La Hoya's 24). But he probably needed a knockout to win, especially with the riches of the Hopkins fight looming. Like almost every close decision that goes for or against De La Hoya, Saturday's was viewed as controversial.
SAD BUT TRUE: Boxing writers Ron Borges of the Boston Globe and Michael Katz of maxboxing.com got into a scrap at a Thursday news conference, slightly injuring a publicist and promoter Bob Arum.
According to reports, Katz, who has worn a neck brace and walked with a cane for years, accused Borges of being a "toadie" for promoter Don King. Borges retaliated by slapping Katz and knocking the beret off his head.
"How can you hit a cripple?" Katz said, according to New York's Daily News.
"You been getting away with that (hiding behind an infirmity) for years," Borges said.
Katz responded by trying to poke Borges with his cane, setting off a melee that was broken up, but not before Arum was knocked down.
- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.