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December 22, 2014

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Kelley gets win as boxing returns to Hilton

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Leila Navidi

Kevin Kelley, left, and Jaime Palma fight during a lightweight boxing match at the Las Vegas Hilton.

It wasn’t anywhere close to a night of legends at the Las Vegas Hilton on Tuesday -- although Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather Sr. were both in the audience.

It was a Tuesday night, after all. Big fights, everybody knows, happen on Saturdays.

Tuesday Night Fights

Mike Tyson poses for a photo with fan Michele Mosey before the Lynel Burton and Chris Finley welterweight boxing match at the Las Vegas Hilton. Launch slideshow »

The 41-year-old former champion Kevin Kelley, a former WBC featherweight champ, managed to win his 60th bout with a unanimous decision over an opponent the promoter flew in from Virginia. The two local reporters on press row felt it was probably closer than that.

Kelley did look sharp in the main event -– especially considering his age and that he seemingly walked out of the announcer’s booth and into the ring.

The former champ looked slow in the first three frames. But he rebounded as the fight wore on. By the middle rounds he was pushing the action, landing some decent combos.

It seemed hard for Kelley, a Las Vegas resident, to find a steady rhythm.

His opponent, Jamie Palma (13-12-1), continually ducked into Kelley’s chest, leaving the former champ -- now having fought professionally 70 times -- to land effective power punches.

In the sixth round, Kelley was able to open a cut under Palma’s right eye.

Earlier in the evening, former UFC heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez lost in a split decision. Ricco tipped the scales at 270 pounds.

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He had Xtreme Couture boxing coach Ron Frazier in his corner and wore a pair of trunks with a Throwdown logo in a homage to MMA. Mike Tyson made fun of the fight.

“Are you going to throw some punches or what?” he asked in the first round.

Ricco’s opponent, Chad Davis, from Phoenix, taunted the former UFC champ at the end of the first with a little hip gyration maneuver.

“Come on,” Tyson implored. “Try to hurt each other.”

It was the first boxing card at the Hilton in about six years.

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