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Time's right for Keene to hang 'em up for good

K enny Keene put on a show for his adoring fans Friday night at Qwest Arena, willing his way to a questionable decision for his 50th professional victory.

The next time the 37-year-old Keene enters the ring, it should be to retire his gloves to the rafters and hang his boxing robe and trunks on the wall at Qwest.

It's time to hang them up — for good. No more un-retirements. No more last stands. No more blows to the head.

No more.

Keene showed a champion's heart Friday night, in his third fight since "retiring" in 1999, somehow rallying from a fourth-round beating by Gary Gomez to win a unanimous decision in his home town.

What Keene, from Emmett, didn't show was a champion's form. He was beaten and battered, saved by a bell and perhaps some hometown cooking from the judges.

Keene, knocked down once in the fourth, was on his way to the canvas again before the bell saved him. Spurred by the capacity crowd's undying love, Keene — who has never been knocked out — steadied himself.

Gomez, understandably outraged by the decision, should have never let it get that far. Bigger and more powerful than Keene, the 31-year-old Gomez fought passively after the fourth, much to the dismay of his corner, allowing Keene to win rounds by simply being a more aggressive fighter.

Gomez, whose power shots bloodied Keene's nose in the third and left his face battered after the bout, was content to land one or two punches and retreat when three or four might have done the job.

Keene took that as evidence of his stamina and training.

He shouldn't. He should take it for what it is — an opponent who lacked a killer instinct.

Though Keene's family and some friends, especially his wife, urged him not to return to the ring for this fight, he's already talking about another bout. After the fight, Keene sounded like a man who wasn't done.

"After one like that, I'd like to say yeah (it's over), but I'm a fighter. And so I'm going to rest up for a week and I'll be ready to go again," he said.

Let's hope it was just the adrenaline talking and the great rush that comes from nearly 6,000 loving fans chanting your name round

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