Unmitigated Savagery in the Year 2002

By Ted Sares on April 8, 2012
Unmitigated Savagery in the Year 2002
Elvir "Kosovo Kid" Muriqi has won four in a row since losing to Clinton Woods in 2009

On July 23, 2002, Elvir “Kosovo Kid” Muriqi met Sam “Slamming Sammy” Ahmad in New Rochelle, NY on an ESPN televised fight…

“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…”—Elvir Muriqi

“These two guys are pitching and catching.”—Commentator Scott LeDoux

You want ebb and flow action; another Julio Cesar Gonzalez vs. Julian Letterlough; a pier six brawl ala Norkus-Nardico or Foreman-Lyle? Will a total of seven knockdowns and one controversial push down in just three rounds suffice?

On July 23, 2002, Elvir “Kosovo Kid” Muriqi (23-1 coming in) met Sam “Slamming Sammy” Ahmad (16-2-3) in New Rochelle, NY on an ESPN televised fight and there was absolutely no prior indication this bout would turn out the way it did.

Ahmad was not known for having heavy hands, but he had made his bones fighting at the Blue Horizon in Philadelphia where he chalked up an 8-1-2 record fighting a solid level of opposition and may have been underestimated by Muriqi’s camp which included noted trainer Teddy Atlas. Sammy had a UD win over Dan Sheehan in 2001—the same limited Sheehan who had split a pair with Muriqi. Ahmad also fought to a draw with the explosive Julian “Mr. KO” Letterlough in 2000 and won an impressive MD over the very tough John Scully in 1999. Scully had badly injured his shoulder in the fight but fought through the pain.

As for the 175-lb. Muriqi, I had seen him lose a dreadful DQ to Dan Sheehan (which he later avenged in another snoozer). I was not impressed. That would change.

Round One

Within a matter of seconds, a surprised Elvir found himself on the deck compliments of an Ahmad numbing right. Quickly recovering, The Kid quickly responded by drilling a wicked uppercut on the point of Sammy’s chin that dropped him hard. With only a minute and a half having elapsed off the clock, both fighters had been down and I was up and screaming.

Said Elvir, “When I dropped him I thought I had him and I was going to finish him…Teddy 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.” Muriqi moved in for the kill and launched a left hook. Sammy got inside it and unleashed his own bomb, another numbing right that sent The 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. It was reminiscent of Art Serwano’s KO loss to Roy Jones Jr. in 1992.

However, against all odds, the Kosovo Kid did a gut check and got up on rubbery legs ready to be chilled, but Slamming Sammy was not up to the task. The vulnerable Muriqi hung on and made it to the bell. Sammy had let him off the hook in what would be a fatal mistake.

Round Two

In the second, Muriqi was again decked early by a counter right that connected flush. He wobbled up and held on in desperation as he tried to clear the cobwebs. Sammy then scored his fourth knockdown in what had now become a classic pier six brawl, but the teak tough Muriqi would not fold. Still, Ahmad sensed the end and so did everybody else in New Rochelle; that is, everybody except The Kid, who took the mandatory 8-count from the very busy referee James Santa. The third knockdown rule was in effect so the Kosovo Kid appeared to be at the end of his rope.

Looking to end matters once and for all, Ahmad moved in to throw the same right that had earlier rendered Muriqi badly hurt. But this time it was Muriqi who got there first with a right to the side of the Sammy’s head and Ahmad staggered back visibly hurt. The roaring crowd had remained standing since the first knockdown in round one and was now looking on in disbelief. Now it was the Philadelphia fighter’s turn to clear the cobwebs. Amazingly, Muriqi made adjustments and pounced on him using great jabs followed by jackhammer overhand rights and uppercuts. Then Muriqi landed a half punch/half shove that put his opponent down hard but it was ruled a no-knockdown. As the bell, ended, Ahmad slowly headed back to his corner. The tide had changed and everyone sensed it.

Round Three

This time it was Muriqi who smelled blood and he picked up where he left off in round two. He cracked a lethal right to Sammy’s temple to score his second knockdown. When Sammy somehow got up, Elvir went after him with pure malice 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 bad call. The right clearly had started Sammy on his way down. The tackle merely camouflaged the clean hit.

As the all-out brawl continued, Elvir began the process of closure as he alternated with hard rights, stunning lefts hooks, and crunching uppercuts. Finally, he launched a volley of well placed combinations banging Ahmad from pillar to post. The Kid then pounded Ahmad onto the ropes where the Philly fighter sagged dangerously. He was ready to become a rag doll. But the aptly named 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 had displayed an uncommon amount of heart to snatch victory from apparent defeat.

The Kosovo Kid (now 39-5) has won four in a row since losing to Clinton Woods in 2009. Starting fast, he went 30-1 before being stopped by rugged Danny Santiago in 2004. Perhaps his best performance came in an MD loss to Antonio Tarver in 2007 with vacant IBO light heavyweight title at stake. Muriqi fought valiantly in this razor thin defeat. Muriqi remains highly popular around the Big Apple

Sam Ahmad was never the same. He fought one more time and lost by TKO. He retired with a 16-4-3, but came oh so close to taking that next big step up.

Had Micky Ward not met Arturo Gatti on May 18, 2002, this fight would have been a slam dunk for the boxing Fight of the Year. Maybe it should have been anyway.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Elvir Muriqi v Sam Ahmad 2002



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  1. the thresher 04:54pm, 04/09/2012

    Thanks mates

  2. pugknows 03:13pm, 04/09/2012

    Once again, you have the knack for making the reader seem he or she was at ringside. I was going to hunt the youtube until I saw it was up on the videos. The Nardico-Norkus brawl was incredible.

  3. Don from Prov 10:11am, 04/09/2012

    I remember the Muriqi/Ahmad war and Gonzalez/Letterlough, but when you put the Foreman/Lye cave-fest on here, I was done.  Foreman/Lyle is one of my favorite fights of all time, and I could watch it all day long.

    One action that jumped out by Lyle and made me think of all the controversy that went on over Arthur Abraham/Andre Dirrell was when Lyle first dropped Foreman in the fourth round, and with Foreman clearly down on his knees and Lyle having all the time in the world, Old Ron measured the downed Foreman and tried to take his head off.  He missed, but…. Anyway, I’m in no way excusing Abraham, but whenever I spend time watching fights, I see someone going out of his way to hit a downed opponent—happens all the time, but one would have thought that Abraham was the first fighter in history to do so.  Anyway, good stuff and I enjoyed the hell out of the videos.

  4. jofre 08:13am, 04/09/2012

    I was lucky enough to have caught the Foreman-Lyle, Gonzalez-Letterlough, Muriqi-Ahmad fights on TV. It’s a shame that Gonzalez and Letterlough both died tragically outside the ring.

  5. dollarbond 06:57am, 04/09/2012

    My God, those videos make this one a keeper forever.

  6. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 06:52am, 04/09/2012

    Ted Sares-These fighters provided more excitement, drama and honest to God fury in one fight that lasted only three rounds than some big time millionaire fighters do in their whole damn careers. All of us can identify with these guys because like the rest of us they are imperfect and vulnerable. but they go on anyway.

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