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A boxer who fights under the nickname "The Harlem Hammer" pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he used a hammer to murder a freelance sports writer and then torched his Hollywood apartment.

James Butler, 31, was charged with murder and arson following his Wednesday arrest and was being held on $1.25 million bail.

Sam Kellerman, 29, was found dead Sunday at his apartment. His car was missing. Authorities believe he was killed on Oct. 12, according to a district attorney's statement.

Kellerman was the younger brother of Max Kellerman, host of Fox Sports Net's boxing program "I, Max," and covered professional boxing.

Butler and the sports writer were friends. The boxer had been staying at Kellerman's apartment since late September. Butler, whose professional record is 20-5, is best known for sucker-punching opponent Richard Grant in November 2001 after losing a charity match. A status hearing in Butler's case was scheduled for Oct. 28.

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