DETROIT (AP) -- With her famous father sitting at ringside, Laila Ali won her fifth straight fight, stopping Karen Bill in the third round Saturday night.
Muhammad Ali, the former three-time heavyweight champion, walked into Joe Louis Arena to a rousing cheer about five minutes before the bout. He gave his daughter a hug after the fight.
''I think he called me a warrior, but I'm not really sure,'' Laila said.
For a while, it looked like Laila (5-0) might need all the help she could get. Bill (1-4), a muscular 166-pound super middleweight out of Oklahoma City, gave her more famous opponent all she could handle.
''That was by far my toughest fight,'' Ali said.
Ali, clearly the more stylish fighter, scored with several rights in the first round, but Bill landed a solid right just before the bell that let Ali know -- for the first time in her brief career -- that she was in for a real fight.
This became very clear early in the second round when a hard right knocked Ali down.
''I was trying something I'd been working on in the gym. I wasn't boxing,'' Ali said. ''That's when I got dropped.
''I never, ever pictured myself getting knocked down.''
The fighters went toe to toe, throwing furious combinations in the final minute that left each with welts.
The third round quickly turned into an all-out slugfest with both women charging and punching furiously. Bill's nose was bloodied during one exchange before referee Frank Garza stepped in and stopped the fight with 1:40 remaining in the round.
''All I could think was, 'I've got to get her,''' Ali said.
Bill said she felt Garza acted in haste.
''I wasn't surprised that they stopped it, because of who she is,'' Bill said. ''But I was really upset. I was winning the fight, and I was still throwing punches.
''Yes, I was getting hit, but this is boxing. You're going to get hit. That's the point.''
Ali scoffed at that.
''Some people think they should never stop a fight,'' Ali said. ''Those are the people that get all beat up and punchy.''
Bill said she would welcome a rematch, but doubted she'd get one.
''She needs to learn how to box,'' Ali said. ''She would just get hurt.''
The 5-foot-10 Ali, weighing in at 168 pounds, has won all five of her professional fights by knockout.
This was the third straight bout in the Detroit area for Ali.
She knocked out April Fowler, a waitress, in 31 seconds on Oct. 8 at Verona, N.Y., and knocked out Shadina Pennybaker, an accounting student, on Nov. 10 at Chester, W.Va., with three seconds left in the fourth and final round.
She won her third bout Dec. 10 in Detroit with a second-round knockout of Nicolyn Armstrong, who was making her pro debut, and needed only 64 seconds to knock out Crystal Arcand on March 7 across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario.
Laila was too young to see her father fight in person, but she has watched tapes of his bouts. She says her favorite is Ali's famed ''rope-a-dope'' knockout of George Foreman in Zaire in 1974.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.