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WBA Welterweight Title Fight : Starling Takes Breland's Crown on KO in 11th

August 23, 1987|Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A 20-year quest ended Saturday for Marlon Starling when he knocked out Mark Breland in the 11th round to win the former Olympic gold medalist's World Boxing Assn. welterweight crown.

"Out of 20 years of boxing in this cruel sport, I've been here for a long time, I can now say to my fans, my friends, I beat the system. I'm the champ of the world," Starling said.

"I'm drained," he added after the fight at the Township Auditorium. "I feel the whole 20 years are on my shoulder right now. I can take about a 20-year vacation."

The 5-foot 9-inch Starling hit Breland with three straight rights in Breland's corner and then put him to the canvas with a left hook with 1:38 left in the 11th round. Breland tried to get up but was unable to regain his feet and suffered his first professional loss in 19 fights.

"I knew I was going to get him in the late rounds," Starling said.

Starling said he couldn't remember exactly what punches he hit Breland with in the 11th round in the first title fight ever in South Carolina.

"I think I hit him with a couple of body shots. I think he did something wrong then and instead of weaving to the right he made a mistake and weaved back to the left and I caught him with the left and caught him with another left hook," Starling said. "I was hoping he didn't get back up."

Breland said he was just looking for some help after he went down for the first time in his professional career.

"There were so many punches coming, I didn't want to count them," he said. "I heard him (the referee) counting. I wanted to tell him to hold on a second, help me up."

Starling, 28, known by the nickname Magic Man, is 42-4 with 26 knockouts.

Breland, 24, was ahead on all three judges' cards when he was knocked down--97-92, 96-91 and 99-89. There were no other knockdowns and neither fighter was in serious trouble until the 11th.

"I thought I was winning the fight," Breland said. "I got hit in the side and I felt the pain."

Trainer Joe Fariello said Breland suffered cartilage damage to his left ribs eight days ago while training for the fight and reinjured himself in the sixth or seventh round.

Breland said he and Fariello discussed not going on with the fight but decided to go ahead.

"They (Starling's supporters) were talking about injuries. They said I might get injuries, that I might pull out," Breland said. "I didn't want to make any excuses. I said, 'Well, I'll fight.' "

Asked if he knew the former champion was hurt going into the fight, Starling said: "After every fight there is an injury."

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