LAS VEGAS -- Ring history repeated itself in the most bizarre fashion at Caesars Palace last night when junior middleweight Terry Norris was disqualified -- for the second straight time -- for knocking out World Boxing Council champion Luis Santana with an illegal punch long after the bell had ended the third round.
Norris, of Campo, Calif., was a 12-1 favorite, and he dominated the first three rounds, flooring Santana in the second and third rounds.
The Dominican native had a glazed expression on his bloodied face when the bell ended the third round. And when referee Kenny Bayliss stepped aside, Norris delivered a brutal right to the side of Santana's head.
Santana quickly sagged to the canvas and did not rise for close to seven minutes, when a stretcher was summoned. He was removed from the ring, wearing an oxygen mask.
Ringside physician Flip Homansky said Santana responded well to questions while lying prone in a neutral corner. He was taken to Valley Hospital for observation. Nursing supervisor Lori Tierney reported the 35-year-old fighter was in stable condition.
After a brief conference in mid-ring, Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Marc Ratner said that Bayliss disqualified Norris "for an intentional foul" that made it impossible for Santana to continue fighting.
Incredibly, a similar incident took place in Mexico City last November when Norris lost his WBC crown to Santana, who was carried from the ring in the fifth round after being knocked out by a punch behind the head that was ruled illegal by referee Mitch Halpern.
Norris accused Santana of faking the injury in the first fight on orders from his corner men. Because of the strange circumstances, the WBC ordered a rematch.
This time, Norris could offer no excuse. It was a blatant foul, and the crowd booed lustily when he left the ring.
"I didn't know the round was over," Norris said. "I didn't hear the bell. The referee said to step back. I was ready and hit him a good shot."
Santana's handlers demanded suitable punishment for Norris.
"I think Norris should be banned for life from boxing," said manager Grant Elvis Phillips. "To win this way makes me sick. We will never fight him again."
Norris (38-6), who was in line to fight the winner of the Vincent Pettway-Simon Brown International Federation Boxing championship fight April 29 in Landover, recently fired longtime manager Joe Sayatovich over financial matters.
Also last night, Mexican ring legend Julio Cesar Chavez, counting down to his 100th professional fight and promised retirement, found a surprisingly stubborn foe in Italy's Giovanni Parisi.
Defending his WBC super-lightweight crown, Chavez (94-1-1), was a decisive winner on the officials' cards. with judge Terry Smith giving the champion all 12 rounds. Lou Filippo and Carol Castellano each voted 118-109.
But Parisi fought the 6-1 favorite every minute of every round, and even taunted Chavez in the closing rounds when he switched to a left-handed stance and dared the relentless Mexican warrior to find his chin. He even managed to cut the bridge of the champion's nose.
Chavez, who has won 30 title fights in three different weight classes -- 135, 140 and 147, losing only to Frankie Randall in January 1994 -- scored the only knockdown, flooring the Italian with a hard left jab in the second round.
In earlier bouts, heavyweight Francois Botha of South Africa, rated No. 3 by the WBC and WBA despite not having a recognizable victim on his 35-0 record, was exposed as a plodding journeyman in his preliminary bout with Willie Jake (10-6-2) of Indianapolis.
Botha, a member of promoter Don King's stable of heavyweights, had been mentioned as a possible test this year LTC for former champion Mike Tyson, who will be launching his comeback after three years in jail. But it may be difficult for even King to sell Botha as a worthy opponent after his lackluster effort.
The crowd hooted in protest when the three judges gave Botha a lopsided eight-round decision.
Unbeaten Felix Trinidad of Puerto Rico, considered one of boxing's bright young superstars, needed less than two rounds to stop Roger Turner of Indianapolis in the sixth defense of his IBF welterweight title.
Trinidad, 22, dropped Turner with a vicious left hook in the second round. Turner barely beat the 10 count and appeared wobbly.
The quick victory lifted Trinidad's record to 26-0 with 22 knockouts. Turner dropped to 29-3.