On Saturday, November 14, Yuri Foreman, 29, walked from his hotel to the MGM Grand Garden Arena to avoid breaking the Sabbath. After sundown, Foreman beat three-time world champion Daniel Santos for the WBA Super Welterweight title.
Foreman, a Brooklynite, Israeli citizen and rabbi-in-training, was the underdog against Santos, a southpaw with a longer reach. But Foreman scored points with quick combinations and precise jabs, and showed power when he knocked Santos down twice.
Boxing bloggers had been saying that the match-up would be a snoozer. But it was an exciting fight, at least for Foreman fans. Santos, 34, had not fought in a year, and he looked sluggish against the sprightly Israeli, whose footwork rarely seemed to lag. Foreman won by unanimous decision after twelve rounds.
As veteran announcer Michael Buffer relayed the decision, the ring was packed with the usual post-fight scrum of cornermen and promoters. But then there was the unusual sight of a champion raising his glove as his entourage unfurled an Israeli flag. The Foreman fans in evidence, who hadn’t made much noise during the fight itself, now let out a roar.
In an upset to both bookmakers and boxing experts, Yuri Foreman, 29, won a unanimous decision against the three-time world champion Daniel Santos. From Haifa, but based in Brooklyn, N.Y., Foreman was the faster and better boxer of the night and extended his unbeaten record to 28 fights. Santos, 34, who had put on significant weight since his last fight, looked sluggish against the sprightly Israeli and was down in both fourth and seventh rounds although the latter was adjudged an inadvertent clash of heads.
The announcement that the judges had unanimously chosen a new champion was greeted by elation by the few Jews in the crowd who saw the Star of David next to a world boxing belt for the first time in decades.
This story "Israeli Trainee Rabbi Wins World Boxing Title" was written by Gordon Haber.