Tonya Harding takes pounding

2004-06-26 10:42

Edmonton, Alberta - Tonya Harding's new career as a boxer took a severe beating on Friday, along with her face, as she was knocked out by Amy Johnson.

Boxing fans booed the disgraced former figure skater when she entered the ring and leapt to their feet cheering as she was pummeled by the 22-year-old Johnson.

Harding, 33, was hoping to use Friday's bout as a launching pad for a big money title fight after trading in her skates for boxing gloves two years ago. But that dream took a bruising in the third round when she was pushed up against the ropes by Johnson and punched repeatedly in the face.

The fight was stopped at 1:03 of the round and Johnson won a $25 000 purse.

Harding said before the fight she hoped to exploit her bad-girl image in the ring.

"People made money off the bad-girl image and now it's my turn," said Harding. "I'm hoping that eventually I'll be able to pay my bills and that'll last for a couple months at a time and things like that."

Harding hoped to win a date with Serbian-born Canadian boxer Jelana Mrdjenovich in a pay-per-view event that could have netted her as much as $600 000, said promoter Wayne Barry.

A title belt could mean a clean break with the sport that made Harding famous.

She remains the only American woman skater to land a triple axel in competition, and she won a US championship.

She fell from glory during the 1993-94 season. Her former husband hired a hit man to club rival skater Nancy Kerrigan on the knee with a baton at the US championships.

Harding claims she didn't know of the attack before it occurred, but she pleaded guilty in 1998 to conspiracy to hinder prosecution. She was fined $160 000 and sentenced to 500 hours of community service.

She was later stripped of her 1994 national championship and banished for life by US Figure Skating.