Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2003

Peninsula runners fare well in Boston

Six runners from the Kenai Peninsula achieved their goals Monday, completing the 26.2-mile 107th Boston Marathon.

In the women's race, Connie Best, 41, of Soldotna, completed the course in 3 hours, 41 minutes and 6 seconds to finish 5,384th overall. Kenda Blanning, 41, of Kenai, finished in 3:42:42 and placed 5,562nd. Kenai resident Jenni Mishler, 41, was 6,349 with a time of 3:46:25, and Mary Stenga, 51, of Soldotna, was 11,138th with a time of 4:14:20.

In the men's race, Randy Weist, 51, of Homer, was 4,467th with a time of 3:35:32 and Paul Turner, 51, of Kenai, was 12,830th in 4:29:21.

Sam Hill, 25, of Kotzebue, a standout athlete when he attended Nikiski High School, finished in 2:58:24 to place 501st.

Toney beats Jirov for IBF cruiserweight title

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. James Toney won the IBF cruiserweight title by beating Vassiliy Jirov on Saturday night, handing the former champion his first professional loss.

The judges had the fight scored 117-109, 116-110, and 117-109 in Toney's favor, though most ringside observers thought the fight was in doubt heading into the final round. Toney landed a combination that sent Jirov to the canvas with less than 10 seconds left in the final round the only knockdown of the fight.

Jirov also had a point deducted in the eighth for his second low blow.

Toney (66-4-2, 42 KOs) was the middleweight champion in the early 1990s and held the super middleweight belt before losing to Roy Jones Jr. in 1994.

A native of Kazakhstan who lives in Phoenix, Jirov (31-1, 27 KOs) won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics and was named the most outstanding boxer at the Atlanta Games. He was hoping he could use his two cruiserweight titles to tempt Jones into the ring. Now that bait belongs to Toney.

Jirov put a left below Toney's belt in the third round, sending a thud through the Fox Theater at the Foxwoods Casino. Toney took a knee to gather himself, then came out punching.

Toney tagged Jirov at the end of the fourth, drawing blood from the champion's nose. At the end of sustained two-way punching to finish the fifth, the fighters glared at each other as they went back to their corners, a routine they repeated from then on.

Toney landed some body blows early in the seventh. In the eighth, referee Steve Smoger took a point away from Jirov for another low blow, though this one wasn't nearly as blatant as the other.

Toney landed a couple of good shots to the head in the 10th. In the 11th, Jirov bullrushed him into the ropes with a series of body shots and staggered him in the middle of the ring, but Smoger ruled that Toney slipped.

Both fighters appeared out of gas as they bobbed together against the ropes while saving their energy for a big blow.

Toney caused a stir at Thursday's news conference when he upended two tables in a screaming match with Jirov's cut man. On Friday, the two fighters had separate weigh-ins.

As a co-featured fight, Antonio Tarver (21-1, 17 KOs) easily beat Montell Griffin (44-4, 29 KOs) to win the IBF and WBC light heavyweight titles vacated when Jones decided to become a heavyweight.

All three judges gave the fight to Tarver, 120-106.

Tarver, the bronze medalist at 178 pounds in the 1996 Olympics, earned the first belts of his professional career. Griffin is the only man to have beaten Jones, who last month moved up to take the WBA heavyweight belt from John Ruiz.

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