WASHINGTON - In the mixed martial arts, which incorporates wrestling, jiujitsu and boxing, Erin Toughill rates among the world's best. Her Web site depicts her knocking out and even breaking the limbs of opponents.
And at an earlier news conference, she told Laila Ali she would kick her "butt."
But after nearly three rounds in the boxing ring with Ali at MCI Center last night, a bloody and badly beaten Toughill didn't look so tough.
With her father, Muhammad Ali, looking on, Laila Ali scored a third-round knockout of Toughill (6-2-1), of Huntington Beach, Calif.
Ali bloodied her opponent's nose in the first round and nailed her with more than 20 unanswered punches in the third before Toughill turned her back in her corner to avoid further punishment, causing referee Joseph Cooper to end the fight at 1:59.
Ali ran her record to 21-0 with her 18th knockout in defense of her World Boxing Council and Women's International Boxing Association super middleweight (168 pounds) titles before 15,472 screaming fans. Muhammad Ali hugged his daughter in the ring after the fight and told her, "You're bad."
"I am the champ. It was wonderful. It adds to my fire to be fighting in front of my father," said Ali, 27, who turned pro in 1999. "People are not ready for me to hit my opponents like that. She was cowering in the corner. ... I tore her up."
Alluding to the procedure of submitting in mixed martial arts, Ali said, "You cannot tap out in boxing."
Muhammad Ali had entered the arena to the chants of "Ali, Ali, Ali" from the crowd. He acknowledged them by making a fist as he extended his left arm as if throwing one of his famed jabs.
The fight was Laila Ali's third on an undercard featuring former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who lost to Kevin McBride of Brockton, Mass., in the main event. Tyson received a visit from the senior Ali in his dressing room before the fight.
A scheduled 12-round welterweight bout between former world champion Sharmba Mitchell (56-4, 30 KOs) of Washington and North American Boxing Association champ Chris Smith (19-2, 12 KOs) of Brooklyn, N.Y., ended in controversy in the fifth round.
After an accidental head butt caused a cut under Mitchell's right eye, the result went to the judge's cards, which had him winning a unanimous decision for Smith's title.
Also on the undercard, lightweight Joey Van Daniker (5-3-1, four KOs) of Laurel lost by disqualification to Ron Boyd (1-1) of Washington.