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K.J. Noons stripped of EliteXC lightweight title

EliteXC announced late Friday that K.J. Noons has been stripped of the promotion’s lightweight title. The company is citing Noons’ refusal to defend the title against Nick Diaz during CBS and EliteXC’s upcoming “Saturday Night Fights” show on Oct. 4 as the reason behind the decision.

“We are stripping K.J. of his championship belt for refusing to defend against Diaz,’’ EliteXC Head of Fight Operations Jeremy Lappen said in a statement.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation but we cannot have belt-holders who refuse to fight the top contenders. We want champions who will fight anyone, anytime, anyplace. That’s the mentality all champions should have.

“I feel very bad for K.J. because I like him a lot on a personal level and have always thought he could be a big star. He’s charismatic, has a very exciting fighting style and is a top level fighter. So I’m obviously disappointed that he has chosen to take this stance.

“I don’t understand why he would turn down a chance to be a headliner on CBS on Oct. 4. K.J. then turned down the fight again when we offered him a headlining spot on our next SHOWTIME date against Nick. From my view, it is a fight against a top-named opponent in Diaz (someone who beat the No. 1 fighter in the world in his weight class), a fighter K.J. has bad blood with and most definitely a fight the fans really wanted to see. It seemed like a great opportunity for K.J. to me.

“Personally, I do not think it was a smart career move, but I’m sure he sees it differently. K.J. has two more fights remaining on his contract, so we are still looking forward to having him fight for us again soon, but not as our world champion.’’

Noons originally won the then-vacant title when he upset Diaz during the promotion’s “Renegade” event last November 10 in Corpus Christi, Texas. After dominating Diaz in the standup portion of the fight and causing three lacerations to Diaz’s face, a doctor called a stop to the fight following round 1, declaring Noons the winner.

Diaz, who had been heavily favored to win the fight, stormed out of the main arena in protest and disputed the decision. The outcome of the fight was a source of bad blood between the Diaz and Noons camp and verbal barbs were exchanged via the media.

The bad blood manifested during the promotion’s June 14 “Return of the King” event in Hawaii following Noons’ first successful defense of the title against Yves Edwards. At the invitation of EliteXC officials, Diaz entered the cage during Noons’ post-fight interview and began to verbally antagonize the then-champion. The verbal exchange escalated to the point that Noons’ father, Karl Noons, a former professional kickboxer, lunged at the Diaz camp. A a melee between the two parties then ensued.

After Diaz put together a three fight win streak following the loss to Noons, the promotion made several attempts to capitalize on the grudge feud but could never secure a bout agreement from Noons, as both he and his manager, Mark Dion, disputed EliteXC’s assertion that Diaz was the number one contender to the title.  The Noons camp stated it felt that Eddie Alvarez, based on his undefeated streak in DREAM’s lightweight Grand Prix deserved to be the rightful top contender. However, Alvarez was recently married and was unavailable for the Oct. 4 date.

Noons would also later reveal that he was unhappy with the company over salary issues and his belief that EliteXC officials had reneged on promises to promote his professional boxing career.

Friday’s announcement stated that a fight to determine the winner of the vacant title would be determined in the near future. Opponents and a date were not given, however, sources informed earlier this week that one option on the table is a headlining match between Diaz and Alvarez for the lightweight title to be held on a tentative Nov. 8 show.

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