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Botha, Briggs fight to draw

Shannon Briggs likely spares himself a loss with an 8th-round knockdown of Francois Botha.

A tale of two bouts ended up in a majority decision draw between heavyweights Francois Botha and Shannon Briggs in a 10-round non-title fight Saturday.

Briggs' early control gave way to Botha's rally in the second half of the bout. The fight ended with Botha hammering Briggs, who had an ugly gash above his right eye. Briggs may have saved himself by scoring a sudden eighth-round knockdown late in a round Botha had dominated.

Two judges scored it 94-94 and a third had it 95-92 in Botha's favor. The Associated Press scored it 94-94. All three judges awarded Botha a 10-8 round in the 10th.

Briggs weighed 230 pounds for the bout at the Trump Taj Mahal. Botha weighed 232. Each will get $400,000.

At Miami, former WBC super-featherweight champ Gabriel Ruelas used a seventh-round knockdown to win a unanimous decision over Miami's Jose "Cacique" Rodriguez in a 10-round bout.

Ruelas dropped Rodriguez with a left hook to the head late in the seventh.

Only the bell saved Rodriguez from a knockout as Ruelas (46-5) followed the knockdown with combinations to the head.

Although Ruelas thought his timing was off, two judges had Ruelas winning 97-92, while the third scored it 96-93.

"For most of the fight, I couldn't find that second rush that would get me going," said Ruelas of Mexico. "It was a good first test because he is a capable fighter."

A busy weekend for the Ruelas family continues today. Gabriel's brother, Rafael, a former IBF lightweight champion, fights Hicklet Lau in Las Vegas.

TWO TITLES CHANGE HANDS: At Le Cannet, France, little-known Acelino Freitas won the WBO super-featherweight title with a first-round knockout of champion Anatoly Alexandrov of Russia.

On the same card, veteran Italian Stefano Zoff won a split decision over Julien Lorcy to capture the WBA lightweight title.

Freitas, a 23-year-old Brazilian, caught Alexandrov (35-4) with an early combination and floored him in the second minute.

Freitas has won all 16 of his professional fights by knockout.

In the lightweight bout, two judges gave it to Zoff, 117-114 and 116-113, and one judge went for the Frenchman 117-114.

Zoff, 33, is the Italian champion and won the super-lightweight title in July 1998 when he beat countryman Prisco Perugino.

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