http://www.suntimes.com/sports/telander/91646,CST-SPT-rick11.article October 11, 2006 BY RICK TELANDER Sun-Times Columnist As I write this column, I have a TV humming softly in the background. Two men, clad only in black shorts and fingerless black gloves, are trying to kill each other. My attention is drawn. I'm a guy. They punch. They kick. They gouge. They knee. They strangle. ''Petruzelli's eye is rocked!'' says the stimulated announcer, describing one fighter's right orbital area. The eye, indeed, resembles a slice of pepperoni pizza with extra sauce. The guy, named Seth Petruzelli, whose hair is dyed like a skunk, has a deep nose cut, too. I'm thinking 15 to 20 stitches for the eye. Five for the beak. ''Can you see well enough to continue?'' the ring doctor asks. Of course he can! The guy who's winning, Matt Hamill, probably needs 10 or so stitches for his own mangled eye. This is Ultimate Fighting on Spike TV, and gore is the point! And this is boxing's competition. Brutality shows such as Ultimate Fighting Championship have taken the primitive, testosterone-steeped, deeply embarrassing impulses of us males and catered to them in a way that is nearly pornographic. This column is about boxing, specifically Nikolai Valuev, the 7-foot, 328-pound Russian giant who I watched pound Monte ''Two Gunz'' Barrett into a satisfyingly subhuman state Saturday night at Allstate Arena. But you cannot write about the sweet science anymore without noting that other forms of hurting people have seeped into the cracks opened by an entertainment-driven world, dull boxing personalities and the fact that the rules of boxing make the sport seem ever older and less relevant in this excite-me-now, up-for-grabs world. When Mike Tyson took his evil pall and left (was driven from) the heavyweight ring, there wasn't much left in boxing to keep our attention. Ali was a ghost. Lennox Lewis had a nice accent. Thus, enter the circus show. By the 11th round, Barrett's ''Two Gunz'' had been replaced by two knockdowns, and after a crushing right hook from Valuev made Barrett reel like a broken toy, his trainer jumped into the ring and stopped the fight. So boxing lurches onward, and Valuev could be its king. Meanwhile, blood enthusiasts flock to sick things such as Ultimate Fighting. I am certain that were it legal, someone would promote, and many men would watch, the Russian roulette pistol games that gave the movie ''The Deer Hunter'' its terrifying edge. Tuesday night, as folks like me waited for ''Ortiz vs. Shamrock 3 -- the Final Chapter'' on Spike TV, an earlier loser, Ed Herman, who surrendered rather than be choked to death by his foe, sadly addressed the crowd from inside the mesh fence. ''I should have gone to sleep like a man,'' he said morosely, ''but I tapped out like a little bitch.'' Hear that, boxing?